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February 22, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Do you lock your doors at night?

Crime never takes a holiday, even in Bowling Green.

In recent years, the Bowling Green Police Division has seen sporadic changes in burglary rates, and in many cases off-campus students have been the target.

In 2006, there were 14 burglary arrests in Bowling Green, down 10 from 2005. But just a few years before, from 2002 to 2003, burglary arrests jumped from 13 to an all-time high of 34.

So far in 2007 the division has made just four arrests, compared with seven at this time last year.

According to Bowling Green Police Lt. Tony Hetrick, these fluctuations follow no real pattern.

‘I wouldn’t say that these changes are significant,’ Hetrick said. ‘You’re going to have years where things are lower or where things are higher.’

There are a number of factors that can influence overall burglary rates, Hetrick said.

In a town as small as Bowling Green, the presence of a pair of serial burglars several years ago managed to single-handedly increase the overall rates.

‘After we caught these two guys we saw the number of burglaries drop right away,’ Hetrick said.

Another factor can be the weather. Hetrick said recent snow and frigid temperatures may explain why numbers have been lower so far.

‘Nobody likes to go out when it’s nasty – even burglars,’ he said.

But the most dependable influence on burglary rates is whether or not the University is in session.

‘We tend to see a spike during vacations,’ Hetrick said. ‘Students leave their stuff in their apartments and burglars know this.’

Students are often prime targets because they tend to own expensive electronic devices like stereos and computers. And because many live in large apartment complexes, it is difficult to tell who lives there and who is a stranger.

When the University goes on vacation and many students leave for home, their deserted apartments become prime targets.

As a result, the police usually increase patrols when school is not in session.

‘While the University is on break, we will step up surveillance in areas of student housing,’ Hetrick said. ‘But unfortunately we never know when we’ve prevented a burglary. So it’s one of those things where you never know how effective it’s going to be.’

Because of the increased risk for apartment dwellers, many local landlords and property managers place a high priority on security.

‘You’re always concerned about the safety of your tenants,’ said Chris Ostrowski, president of the Wood County Apartment Association and leasing agent for Winthrop Terrace apartments.

He said vigilance is the key. In addition to having secure doors and windows and making sure parking lots and sidewalks are well lit, he said some of his employees live in the apartments to keep an eye on things.

Ostrowski also advises his tenants to keep their eyes open.

‘Students should just be on the lookout and make sure they get to know their neighbors so they know who they can trust,’ he said.

Some students who do live off campus say burglary is not a major concern.

‘We never really worry about it,’ said senior Jacob Miley. ‘We keep our doors unlocked a lot of the time.’

But Hetrick said this is not a good idea.

‘Often times students come from towns where it’s customary to leave doors unlocked,’ he said. ‘But that’s how a lot of break-ins occur.’

In addition to keeping doors and windows secure, Hetrick also advises students leaving town on vacation to use automatic timers on their lights, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things and to take any expensive electronics with them.

Taking these preventative measures is important because many burglaries will frequently go unsolved.

Hetrick said there is usually little physical evidence left at the crime scene, and unless there are eyewitnesses to identify the culprit, the police are often unable to make an arrest.

‘Probably in a majority of cases no one is ever arrested or identified,’ Hetrick said. ‘That’s why prevention is necessary.’

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