Theft raises safety awareness for students

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Remembering to lock your doors can be a hard lesson for some college students to learn. But it’s one they should learn sooner rather than later, because theft exists and it exists at K-State.

Harrison Penney, sophomore in psychology, was lying in bed with the back door to his apartment unlocked when the break-in occurred. An unknown individual entered Penney’s and roommate Dayton Wallonburg’s apartment last September.

The unarmed teenager rummaged through Wallonburg’s room while he was half-asleep.

“My roommate thought it was me the whole time,” Penney said. “This guy started going through his drawers and he didn’t think anything of it because he was half-asleep.”

The boy continued to search the apartment with his flashlight. Penney got out of bed and peered under the crack of his bedroom door. He recognized there was an intruder by the boy’s shoes: Jordan basketball shoes that were not his roommate’s.

Shocked, Penney opened his bedroom door.

“I froze up, it was one of the scariest moments of my life,” Penney said. “I had never seen this guy before and he didn’t even care that I saw him. It was pretty scary.”

Situations like Penney’s leave Manhattan students worried about their safety on-campus and off. For Taylor Odell, junior in psychology, purchasing a taser is her way to gain peace of mind.

“I carry (my taser) in my purse with me at all times just because if something ever were to come up and I would need it, I know it’s there,” Odell said. “Knowing that I have it in case anything ever were to happen, I have that extra sense of security with me.”

According to chapter 3770 of K-State’s Policy and Procedures Manual, the university doesn’t permit use or possession of a stun gun while on campus. However, the manual does share the exception that “personal self-defense items containing mace or pepper spray shall not be deemed to be a weapon for the purposes of this policy.”

Capt. Don Stubbings of the K-State University Police Department said he cautions students who choose to carry pepper spray.

“It is often not just the intended person that gets sprayed, but those in the area including the person using it,” Stubbings said. “Pepper spray does have an expiration date, (so) when carrying the spray, it is important to check that the product you carry is within the expiration date.”

K-State has several programs put in place by campus police to protect students while on campus.

Blue emergency telephone poles can be spotted throughout campus that, when activated, summon immediate help. The telephones are connected directly with the University Police Office.

Wildcat Walk has been available for students to utilize for nearly 20 years as well. The program allows students to call 395-SAFE for a student escort to walk with them from different campus locations at night, and even for a short distance off-campus.

“Even if you follow all of the reasonable behaviors that are suggested sometimes bad things happen,” Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, said.

According to Stubbings, security cameras, which are installed inside and outside several campus buildings, have helped catch persons committing theft in the past and are useful for police to monitor areas if necessary.

“Safety is a shared responsibility,” Stubbings said. “Taking the time to secure your valuables, locking your doors and using the free services that K-State provides will go a long way to theft prevention and personal safety.”

For Penney, locking his apartment door is something he said he will never forget.

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