Personal safety begins with you! You are responsible for your actions and behaviors. Exercise common sense in your daily life. Statistics show theft is the most common crime on university campuses today. These crimes are mainly due to carelessness. Most thefts on campus occur when rooms are left unlocked and personal property is left unattended.

1. Familiarize yourself with your school’s Campus Safety office.

Every school has a Campus Safety or security office, and part of your tuition funds it. Please make the most of this resource by utilizing its services. Your college’s website likely provides information like office hours and phone numbers, but you can also visit in person when you arrive on campus.

Next Step: Call or visit the Campus Safety office and request information about their programs. Find out if your campus has the following services and how you can take advantage of them:

• Campus escort services

• Safety maps with suggested secure routes

• Support for a safety app like Campus Safe

2. Take extra precautions at night.

On average, sexual assaults and other crimes are more likely to occur at night. And while you shouldn’t scare yourself into assuming danger is around every corner, you shouldn’t take unnecessary risks, such as walking alone at night. Instead, use the buddy system or call campus security for a ride.

3. Always lock up.

Just as you wouldn’t leave your house without locking the front door, don’t leave your dorm or apartment without locking up — even if you plan on only being gone a few minutes. If you live on the first floor, close your windows, shut the blinds, or hide your valuables in drawers whenever you leave.

Next Step:

  1. Purchase a small safe or dedicate a drawer for storing your laptop, iPad, and other valuables away from your room.
  2. If you use a secure, keep it hidden in a closet.
  3. If you live on the first floor of a building, make sure your windows lock. You can purchase a sliding window lock (Amazon) or security bar (Amazon) if they don’t.

4. Maintain privacy on social media.

Social media is an excellent platform for connecting with friends and family worldwide or sharing updates about your life. However, with everything you post, stay aware of who else could be viewing your profile. Avoid geotagging your photos, as it reveals your location to strangers, and don’t publicly announce when you’re alone or leaving your home unattended.

Next Step: Review the settings on each of your social media profiles. Disable location services, make your accounts private and think twice before sharing anything. Remember: once something gets posted on the Internet, it’s tough to remove it entirely.

For more information on keeping your accounts secure, please read through our Social Media Safety Guide.

5. Be careful when getting into your car.

Most people don’t think to look in their backseat or under the car before getting behind the wheel. However, A predator could hide in one of those locations, especially if you tend to leave your vehicle unlocked or keep your windows rolled down. When walking to your car, approach at an angle that allows you to see around the vehicle and check the back seat before opening the door.

Next Step: Lock your car doors and engage your car alarm every time you leave your car, even if you’re running just a quick errand. If your vehicle doesn’t have an alarm feature, our Aftermarket Car Alarm Comparison can help you find a reliable alarm option.

6. Know where you’re going.

Whenever you set out to town or class, know where you’re heading and how to get there. Walk confidently and avoid looking confused, even when trying to navigate a new location. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, don’t use headphones, let your phone distract you, and focus on finding your destination.

Next Step: Download your campus map onto your phone and use your GPS to find popular, highly trafficked routes to get to your destination. Apps like Campus Maps can also help you navigate your school campus. Always try to avoid walking along deserted paths, and when in doubt, stick to the routes with which you’re most familiar — even if they take a little longer.

7. Understand your campus’s and city’s crime.

The more you know about the crime in your local area, the better you can prevent similar incidents from happening to you. Most colleges and universities provide on-campus crime statistics, and several websites offer a thorough overview of a city’s crime rates, including the type of offense and specific locations where the crime occurred.

Next Step:

  1. Research your college’s reported on-campus crime by visiting the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. If you have specific concerns or questions not addressed by the site, contact your school’s Campus Safety office for more information.
  3. Use a site like to learn more about crime within a particular city.

8. Learn how to defend yourself.

There’s nothing more empowering than knowing how to protect yourself physically. You’ll feel safer and more confident, especially if you live or travel alone. You don’t need a black belt in karate to master self-defense; you only need a few classes and tips from a professional instructor. Depending on your interests, there are several types and styles of courses from which to choose.

Next Step: Sign up for a self-defense class in your area, such as Krav Maga or jiujitsu. These classes are often available at colleges and gyms. If you’re shy or nervous, ask a few friends to take the course.

9. Have safety and security supplies readily accessible.

Keeping a few safety supplies on hand can help you feel more protected. While stun guns aren’t legal in all states, less drastic self-defense products like pepper spray and mace are easier to obtain and can be as helpful. Many colleges also provide new students with whistles, which you can use to alert those nearby when you require assistance or are in danger.

Next Step: Pack your safety supplies into a small kit, and fasten the equipment on a key ring, lanyard, or backpack. These items should be easy to grab anytime, as they will only do you a little good if they’re buried at the bottom of your bag.

College is an incredible and rewarding experience. But as busy as you’ll be adjusting to independence, new classes, and new friends, remember to stay safe and maintain awareness. These nine simple steps can significantly increase your chances of having a safe and successful school year.


The above safety tips are provided by the Department of Public Safety and are intended to help ensure your safety while a member of our campus community.

Department of Public Safety
5050 East State Street
Rockford, IL 61108

Jason Mallo, Director of Public Safety | Burpee Student Center | (815) 226-4116 |

Tom Henn, Assistant Director of Public Safety Officer | Burpee Student Center | (815) 226-4114 |

Joab Irwin, Senior Public Safety Officer | Burpee Student Center | (815) 226-4110