Winter Break '98 Safety: Special Checks of Residences

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Winter Break '98 (December 23, 1998 through January 10, 1999) is approaching quickly. Traditionally, this is a time of lower occupancy and greater opportunity for crime. Therefore, we need to be more safety and security conscious.

In order to reduce the opportunity for crime (i.e., criminal mischief, burglaries, etc.), the Division of Public Safety is again offering to conduct Special Checks of Residential Properties during the following time frame:

5 p.m. Tuesday, December 22 to 7 a.m. Monday, January 11.

Students, faculty and staff who live within the following geographical boundaries--Schuylkill River to 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue to Market Street--may list their residence with the Penn Police Department for Special Checks during the period it will be vacant.

Penn Police officers will periodically check the exterior of the property for signs of criminal activity or security breaches. If any are discovered, the officers will take appropriate action ranging from arresting the perpetrator to conducting an interior check of the property with subsequent notification to the listed occupant.

If you would like to list your residence for Special Checks during Winter Break '98, please pick up an application at the Penn Police Headquarters, 4040 Chestnut Street or the Special Services Department, 4026 Chestnut Street. You need to complete and return the application to either location prior to vacating the premises. Or, you may request "Special Checks" via the web. Complete the application form on the Public Safety website at and follow the instructions to submit. Below, you will find Safety and Security Tips to help keep your time away from Penn a safe and happy one. For more extensive safety tips, we also have an excellent pamphlet by J.J. Bittenbinder, Tough Target: Street Guide to Staying Safe. Stop by the Special Services Department for a copy.

The Division of Public Safety wishes you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.

-Susan A. Hawkins, Special Services Department, Division of Public Safety

Safety and Security Tips:

If You are Leaving Penn for Winter Break:

  • Register your residence with Public Safety for Special Checks during the Break.
  • Secure or remove all valuables (i.e., jewelry, computers, stereos, televisions, etc.). All valuables should already be engraved with your Social Security or other identifying number. Engravers are available at the Special Services Department, 4026 Chestnut Street, 898-4481. (Refundable deposit of $10 required).
  • Close and lock all windows; close all shades, drapes and blinds. Lock and bolt entrance doors to rooms or apartments.
  • Use timers on lights and on a radio or television to give your residence the appearance of being occupied.
  • Your answering device message should never indicate that you are not at home. Always use plural nouns even if you live alone (e.g., "we're not available to take your call right now"). Don't use your name.
  • Make sure that your exterior lighting works and turn all lights on. Preferably, exterior lights should be on a timer or photoelectric cell. If not, contact your landlord regarding these security devices before you leave for Break!

If You are Remaining at Penn During Winter Break:

  • Use one of the interior automated teller machines (ATMs). (Contact Special Services, 898-4481, for locations of interior ATMs). Avoid withdrawing money at night. Check the amount withdrawn only after you are safely inside your residence or office. Never display money in a crowd.
  • Carry only necessary credit cards and money. Carry your wallet in an inside coat pocket or side trouser pocket. Carry your handbag tightly under your arm with the clasp toward your body. Never let it dangle by the handle. Keep your wallet or handbag closed and with you at all times. Never place it on the seat beside you, on the counter next to you or under a seat when dining.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you, trust your instincts. Stay in well-lighted and well-traveled areas.
  • Walk with your head up, shoulders back and your eyes scanning the people around you.
  • Use the "buddy" system or the Penn Transit System when traveling at night.
  • From non-University exchanges, dial 898-RIDE (7433) for the vehicular escort service or 898-WALK (9255) for the walking escort service between the hours of 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., daily.
  • If you are expecting guests or workers, do not open your door until you know it is the right person(s). Always ask to see identification of visitors you don't know.
  • If accosted, don't resist! Don't panic! Get a good description, direction traveled, etc.- and report the incident to the police as soon as possible.
  • Know the locations of Penn's blue-light emergency telephones. Open the box, lift the receiver or push the button to talk.
  • Report any suspicious activities to the police as soon as you can: Where, What, Who, When and How.

--Division of Public Safety

Know Your Emergency Numbers:

Division of Public Safety,
Penn Police Department,
4040 Chestnut Street
On Campus: 511
Off Campus: 573-3333
Non-Emergencies: 898-7297/7298
Special Services: 898-4481/6600
Penn Detectives: 898-4485
Philadelphia Police Department
Emergencies: 911
18th Police District,
5510 Pine Street
General Business: 686-3180
SEPTA Police Department
Emergencies: 580-4131

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 15, December 15, 1998