Home burglaries spike during each winter break, EPD says

When students leave for winter break Eugene becomes a ghost town in areas populated mostly by students, like the West University area near 13th Avenue. Entire blocks can be abandoned for three whole weeks, and these abandoned houses are perfect targets for burglars. Every year the rates of theft and burglary skyrocket over winter break.

Last year in the West University area, the blocks from Kincaid to High and 13th to 19th, there were 11 burglaries and 19 thefts between the Saturday after finals week and the Sunday before classes begin. In the 2013-2014 school year, there were ten burglaries and 16 thefts in the same area and time frame.

“Statistically, the Eugene Police Department is aware that property crime spikes during the weeks of winter break when many take the opportunity to visit family, friends and warmer weather,” the EPD said in a news release. EPD acknowledges that students are particular targets during the break.

EPD warns students not to advertise that they’re leaving. Burglars often scope out potential houses in student populated areas right before break, looking for people packing up. Any indication that students are leaving or will leave should be hidden.

“One suspect advised that they would case their targets in advance and would look for mailboxes that were full,” said Debbie Janecek, the acting supervisor of EPD’s Crime Prevention program. “They would knock at doors first to see if anyone was home.”

Two cases last year stuck out to Janecek. Both happened in the West University area in houses with multiple roommates, all of whom had left for the break.

“In both situations, entry was forced,” Janecek said. “In one case pry marks were found on the back door and was likely the point of entry. in the other, pry marks were also found on the back door but entry was ultimately gained by smashing a window pane of the door.” The burglars stole an eclectic mix of items, from jewelry and checks to video games and a passport, she said.

While dorm rooms are generally secure, students who park their bikes on campus over break leave them at risk.

“It’s best to not leave a bike locked up in a rack, unused and unmonitored, for long stretches,” UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver said. He suggested storing bikes in the caged bike rack areas on campus. “If a person has no choice but to leave a bike locked up outdoors, choose an area with good lighting and visibility that would deter thieves,” he said. Removing easily detached sections like wheels and seats decreases the chance of a bike being targeted.

While EPD will patrol and respond to most burglary reports in off-campus areas, UOPD is also patrolling the edges of campus and University of Oregon owned housing. The Spencer View Apartments will continue to be monitored during winter break.

“The Community Assistants at Spencer View walk around the community each evening,” UO Housing Communications Director Leah Andrews said. “When they see items that may have been left on patios our lawns they knock on resident’s doors and encourage them to place those items in secure areas.”

If you see any suspicious activity, call UOPD at 541-346-2919, EPD at 541-682-5111, or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

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Noah Mcgraw

Noah Mcgraw