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'Checking out' your neighbor means looking out for crime

MIT Police are looking for volunteers to serve as campus coordinators in the Campus Crime Watch program starting this fall.

The program, designed to encourage community members to become more involved in the reduction of theft by watching for and reporting suspicious activity, will work like a neighborhood watch program, with signs alerting people that they have entered a campus crime watch area. Volunteer coordinators will serve as liasions to the Campus Police and will be trained to spot a suspicious person or activity and instructed on what information to report to the police.

"The goal of the new program is to cut down on larceny by creating a community network of people who are keeping their eyes open," said Chief John DiFava. MIT joins other Massachusetts colleges that are instituting the crime watch program this fall, including the University of Massachusetts, Boston University and Bentley College.

Crime watch coordinators will attend a luncheon and a brief training session presented by Caileen Fitzgerald of the Massachuestts Neighborhood Crime Watch Commission on Sept. 17. The police hope to have at least one volunteer participating from every department, center, lab and dormitory.

There were 541 larcenies reported on campus during 2001 and 539 in 2000. Laptop computers, digital cameras and other small electronic items, wallets and backpacks were the most frequently stolen items. Most were taken from unsecured areas, rather than the result of a break-in, according to campus police records.

Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer of the Campus Police Crime Prevention Unit will coordinate the program. Community members who have questions or who are interested in volunteering should contact her at 253-9755 or no later than Sept. 12.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 28, 2002.

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