After spending the weekend with his parents, LSA senior Dave Hull returned home to find an unfamiliar man leaving his room via the third-floor fire escape. His 11 unsuspecting housemates were downstairs. The stranger told Hull he had been over to see a friend and was leaving.

The stranger was leaving, but he wasn’t there to see a friend.

The man had stolen Hull’s laptop and carried it out in a backpack, which was also Hull’s.

Because the doors and windows of Hull’s apartment were unlocked, the thief was able to walk easily in and out with his computer, despite the people downstairs.

“Everyone was home,” Hull said. “They happened to be on the first floor, and my room was on the third.”

The Ann Arbor Police Department, along with the Department of Public Safety, Michigan Student Assembly and the Washtenaw Area Apartment Association, have come together to combat local theft like Hull experienced.

Their message: Lock your doors and windows.

Fifty-five percent of theft in Ann Arbor involves unlocked doors and windows, according to police. Police and area landlords say that simply keeping doors and windows locked – even when it seems safe – greatly reduces property crime.

The groups are instituting a “Lock Out Crime” campaign to educate new and returning students about protecting their homes in the Ann Arbor area.

“Students think they live in a small university community and they can have an open-door policy,” said AAPD Deputy Chief Greg O’Dell. “But you can’t.”

The campaign was launched in the fall of 2005. Since then, robberies went down 36 percent from Jan. 1 to Sept. 2 compared to the same time period the year before. In addition to area landlords stepping up tenant education, the AAPD has been hand-delivering flyers to houses in student neighborhoods and working with MSA to reach students.

The campaign also reminds students to immediately call the police, rather than landlords, if they discover any suspicious activity.

“Often students will call the landlord the next day,” landlord Lelahni Wessinger said. “If you call the next day, the trail will be cold.”

For information on how to lock out crime, visit www.a2gov.org/goblue.

By the numbers

– Since Jan. 1, 150 laptops have been stolen in Ann Arbor.
– 90 percent of crime in Ann Arbor is property-related.
– 55 percent of thefts in Ann Arbor involved unlocked doors.
– 45 percent of thefts occurred in student areas.

Source: Ann Arbor Police Department

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