TCU Police Chief Steven McGee said, "if you walk confidently with a purpose, you can avoid something [bad happening]."

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With many in the TCU community feeling uneasy after recent crime alerts — namely the home invasion robbery of a student and the arrest of a mentally ill man near campus — TCU police chief Steven McGee shared some safety tips for students living on and off campus.

Be aware of your surroundings.

“At TCU, we have a nice campus. We rarely have crime in the interior of campus. Students get lulled into a false sense of security. We typically see a lot of students walking with their cell phone in their hands, texting people… Don’t let anybody get close to you. Don’t put yourself in a position where you go around a blind corner. If you’re in a parking lot, have your keys in your hand… finger on the alarm. Criminals will take advantage of people that aren’t being aware of their surroundings. If you walk confidently with a purpose, you can avoid something.

“Be very cognizant if you’re living off campus in like a small fourplex or a single house. Have your keys ready, make sure you leave outside lights on so you can get in [and] see if anybody’s hiding nearby. If you see anybody, don’t go in. Call us, call Fort Worth [police]. We don’t have jurisdiction off campus, but we do want to make sure that you’re safe. Or, just stay in your car and drive to our police station; we’ll go back with you.”

Don’t be afraid to report suspicious activity or avoid suspicious people.

“We’d rather check out a suspicious person who is supposed to be here than have a suspicious person harm one of our students. A lot of cases are solved in every major city or university because of the citizens or the students who observe things and call the police and report.

“A lot of people, they’ll become a victim of a crime. They’ll tell the police, ‘I felt really uneasy, but i didn’t want to hurt their feelings [and make them think] I was going around avoiding them.’ It’s better to be safe.”

Be a good witness.

“If you see something suspicious, try to get the person’s height, weight, hair style, [race], clothing description, what their car is, license plate number… Make a conscious effort because that can be the difference. A lot of times people see somebody suspicious and they want to avoid eye contact, and they don’t even look at the person.

“Make sure you look at them. You don’t have to make eye contact, but you can look at their clothing, see if they have a beard or mustache or glasses… don’t just look down. Now, I don’t want anybody trying to jump in front of a car trying to get a license plate number or anything. But even the first couple letters is great, or the last couple.”

Lock your doors.

“We reported several burglaries last year on our Clery report. I think every burglary that occurred was because the doors were unlocked. No door pried open or forced open. if you lock your door, the chances of being burglarized in a residence hall are slim to none. That’s including if you’re in a suite with a joint bathroom, lock that door.

“[Off campus], check your doors and windows constantly, especially if you’re in a very old rental property. In the past, people have worked on prying open windows that are just painted shut. Don’t assume that [your doors and windows] still locked, especially if you have a lot of people you don’t know come into your residence. “

Other safety tips:

  • Add the TCU police phone number into your contacts: 817-257-7777.
  • Don’t be afraid to call for an escort, such as Froggy 5-O or TCU police.
  • Before signing a lease off campus, check with the Fort Worth police crime log to see any previous criminal activity in the area.

This story originally appeared in the Jan. 14 edition of the Skiffx360.