Most students at Iowa State can say they own a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Unfortunately, some can also say they have been in the situation where they are in a public place with these possessions, have left the objects unattended for a couple of minutes and returned to find their valuable possessions gone. 

The theft of objects such as laptops, tablets and smartphones is an unpleasant experience that no one wants to go through. However, being in a large college community, it is bound to happen.

Here at Iowa State, there were 268 thefts on campus in 2011, a number that has remained relatively steady over the past five years. In 2007, there were 269 thefts recorded.

Most of the thefts here are opportunistic, said Lt. Elliot Florer of the ISU Police Division. A thief will see the valuables unattended and take them. 

“People get up, leave their things behind without thinking, giving anybody the opportunity to take them," Florer said.

The No. 1 thing students can do to protect their valuables while they are out in public is to keep the valuables with them and do not leave them unattended, Florer said.

Inside the dorms, Florer said the best way to keep things from wandering off is to keep the door locked when people are not in the room.

"If you leave your room, lock it," Florer said.

Florer also recommended that people keep a record of the serial numbers on their valuables both here at college and at home.

“If we do locate a stolen item, having that information makes it a lot easier to get it back to people," Florer said. “Being aware of your surroundings will help prevent your things from being stolen; take a minute and look around you. Know what is going on.”

If a student's laptop, tablet, smartphone or any other valuable is stolen, he or she is encouraged to contact authorities as soon as possible. The nonemergency number for ISU Police is 515-294-3388.

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