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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Classically high home theft rates subside for this year

Alex McIntyre
The West University neighborhood lies directly adjacent to the University of Arizona campus on Thursday, Jan. 7.

According to a report released by State Farm Insurance, Arizona ranks No. 7 in the nation for most theft claims in 2014.

The report is based on the amount of claims that State Farm received from its customers throughout the year, according to Victor Hugo Rodriguez, a spokesman for the company.

Rodriguez said that most of those who file a claim with State Farm also file a police report.

“State Farm is the largest insurance company in the nation, so our numbers really represent what the community goes through,” he said.

Sgt. Filbert Barrera, the public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department, said that while he would want to know more about whether those claims from State Farm customers were also reported to the police, he thinks theft is “probably one of the biggest problems” on campus.

“We have a crop of new students every year and it’s usually their first time away from home, so they may not have the life experience to always try to take care of their property and make sure it’s not going to be stolen,” Barrera said.

Theft isn’t just a problem on campus. Officer Dan Lucas, the public information officer for the Tucson Police Department, said that patrol officers “deal with [theft] just about daily.”

There is a certain time when theft spikes though. January and December have the highest amount of theft claims, according to the State Farm report. People travel during the holidays to visit loved ones and sometimes leave their properties unattended, making them more subject to theft, according to Rodriguez.

It is then that people can “figure out ways to figure out if you are home or not,” according to Rodriguez. One way in particular is whether the mail being delivered to a residence is being picked up or not. The State Farm report advises people to have neighbors pick up mail so that it doesn’t pile up and alert potential thieves.

Lucas also said the holiday season usually sees an increase in theft for obvious reasons.

“Part of that is people get in the holiday spirit. They leave presents sitting in their car, and they may or may not lock them,” Lucas said. “I would encourage people to be especially aware around the holidays that valuables are out of sight, and that they’re locking their cars. Pay attention to who’s in the parking lot if they’re walking around and looking in windows — that kind of thing.”

However, there has been a decrease in the amount of theft on campus during the break, according to Barrera. It previously had been a trend for theft to increase on campus during breaks; but over the last few years, theft rates have gone down.

“I think that people are just getting smarter and they’re hearing our message that you need to lock your stuff up,” Barrera said.

Even though the amount of theft over break may be decreasing, for the incidents of theft that do happen, investigating the incident can still be difficult. Because the theft happened over break, it can be hard to tell exactly when it occurred since residents can be gone for weeks without checking on their property. According to Barrera, this can make following up on the crime more difficult.

In order to prevent theft, there are steps that people can take in order to secure their property. Barrera and Lucas strongly recommend travelers to lock their doors and windows on their homes and vehicles.

“You would be shocked, I’m sure, to find out that probably better than half of the car busts that we have, there is no force. The vehicle was unlocked,” Lucas said. “You have to lock your stuff up.”

Lucas also advises people to keep their valuables out of sight and to report suspicious activity while it is happening.

Barrera especially recommends recording the serial number of any valuables owned and taking pictures of the property. When something is reported stolen, the police can put its information into the National and the Arizona Crime Information Center’s database. If the property is found, police officers elsewhere can run the serial number of the property and identify it. If an item does not have a serial number, Barrera advises engraving it or marking it in a way that can identify it as your property.

Barrera said that UAPD tries to get these tips out in order to help people protect themselves from theft.

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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