KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University roommates Alex Baetens and Jack Miskulin know what it’s like to have a stranger walk into your house.
“It wasn’t a break-in our anything, just a drunk student walked in at 2 a.m. and we all woke up and saw it,” Miskulin said.
That unexpected visit provided a good lesson.
“Now we kind of shut down the open-door policy. We make sure we lock it every night,” Miskulin said.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said the latest increase in calls goes beyond an alcohol-fueled mistake.
“We’ve seen an uptick in home invasions, larcenies from vehicles in the campus area,” Werkema said.
Police in Kalamazoo said they’re seeing an increase in crime in neighborhoods and around the WMU campus. Investigators said they are typically crimes of opportunity. Both residences and vehicles are the targets. Valuables get left out in the open and are an easy take for thieves, especially if a door or window is left unlocked.
So KDPS officers are putting the word out, telling residents to make sure doors and windows are locked. It’s a problem common in college towns, with students who may not recognize the importance of putting things away and locking doors.
“This could be your first time living away from home and maybe that wasn’t a responsibility at home,” Werkema said.
Call logs from WMU Campus Public Safety also show a large volume of calls for burglaries and larcenies. KDPS has added extra patrols in the area.
There are also more ways residents can do to prevent crimes. KDPS investigators say they know their audience is mostly students, so they’ve taken to social media to get their message out.
“With our younger population, they’re always on social media. So that’s a quicker and easier way to make contact with them,“ Werkema said.
They’re posting tips, like keeping doors and windows locked and not leaving valuables sitting in the open, drawing the blinds on your windows and placing a wooden or metal bar in the track of sliding doors and windows, installing camera doorbells and simply being aware of your surroundings.
“So pay attention to who’s around you, what’s going on around you. With the new technology, we’re on our phones a lot.” Werkema said. “So put the phone down every once in a while, and just see what’s going on around you.”