RUPD offers tips for remaining safe during holiday season

With the holiday season approaching, the Rice University Police Department (RUPD) issued a campuswide email Nov. 18 to caution students, faculty and staff about becoming victims of thieves and robbers. That risk has become more apparent in just the past week, as the Houston Police Department investigated several robberies in neighborhoods south and west of campus.

Johnny Whitehead

“RUPD would like to remind students, staff and faculty to remain vigilant about personal safety and security and to take steps to prevent becoming a target of crime,” Police Chief Johnny Whitehead wrote in his email last week. Below are some of the common sense tips RUPD shared to improve personal safety:

•    Be aware of your surroundings and alert to any signs that something may be wrong or out of place. Pay attention to your instincts.

•    Do not leave valuables in plain view in your car – especially gifts after you return from holiday shopping. And don’t leave your laptop, backpack, purse and other valuables unattended in a classroom, at the library, in the locker room, in the dining hall or at a sporting event, lecture or other campus activity.

•    Have your car keys ready to unlock your car door so that you don’t become a victim while fumbling through your purse or backpack.

•    Avoid distractions that decrease your awareness level, such as talking on a cellphone or wearing headphones.

•    Travel with family and friends. Walking in a group decreases your chances of becoming a victim.

•    Ask for a police escort if you have to travel alone at night across campus or to the Rice Village Apartments or the Rice Graduate Apartments by calling 713-348-6000.

•    Report any suspicious activity or emergencies on or near Rice property immediately to RUPD at 713-348-6000. If you’re off campus, call 911.

•    Program RUPD’s number into your cellphone for quick access.

Avoid leaving holiday gifts and other valuables on car seats, where they might attract the attention of potential thieves.

•    Use the emergency blue light phones located around campus that ring directly to RUPD to get help during an emergency, to request a police escort or to report suspicious activity.

•    If you are attacked, don’t fight back. Cooperate with the assailant and then contact the police as soon as it is safe to do so. Defend yourself only as a last resort if you are being physically assaulted.

•    Park in highly visible areas and check for lighting in case you’ll be leaving when it is dark.

•    Keep your bike locked up, and register it with RUPD.

“Our purpose is to help you achieve your research, teaching and learning goals in a safe and orderly environment,” Whitehead said. “We believe these strategies will assist you, family and friends on or off campus.”


About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.