Staying safe on campus: tips for summer at CWRU

CWRU Police Officer Mark Chavis instructing passersby
Officer Mark Chavis is one of many police officers working to ensure the safety of the Case Western Reserve campus.

At Case Western Reserve University, campus safety is a top priority. With its own dedicated police department—and support from neighboring safety forces—plus a late-night shuttle service, regular shuttle bus service and daily 24-hour walking escorts, the university’s Office of Campus Services is committed to ensuring the community’s safety and well-being.

In fact, during the last academic year, the Case Western Reserve Police Department reported the lowest serious-crime numbers in recent years, said Richard Jamieson, vice president of campus services.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that incidents don’t occur. Just last week, members of the campus community received three security alerts related to crimes in the area.

And although many crimes cannot be prevented, there are ways to protect yourself. Jamieson and Art Hardee, the university’s chief of police and director of security, explained recent trends and provided tips on how to discourage some crimes.

Cellphone Theft

In recent months, one crime especially common around Cleveland—and nationally—is stealing cellphones (a trend called “Apple picking” when iPhones are stolen). According to a recent survey, Cleveland ranks in the top 10 cities across the country for such theft.

Having a phone stolen can be costly—not to mention devastating, as many people store all contacts, photos and other personal information in their smartphones.

Cellphone theft has increased for several reasons, according to Jamieson and Hardee.

First, they said, people are less attentive to their surroundings when they talk on their cellphones, making it easier for thieves to snatch the phone.

Cellphones can also be resold for cash. The more expensive smartphones become, Jamieson said, the higher the resale price thieves can recoup.

Often, Jamieson noted, this crime occurs while riding public transportation. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has responded to the increase by adding more security forces on buses and trains and encouraging riders to store their cellphones when not in use.

Prevention Tips

  • As in all other situations, remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t be distracted by your phone conversation; in fact, it’s better if you stay off your phone all together, they said. This also means keeping an eye on who is around you…
  • …Including those on two wheels. More frequently, individuals riding bikes grab phones out of walkers’ hands—and make a quick getaway.
  • Limit how much you talk or text on your cellphone while walking or riding public transportation. If your phone isn’t out, they can’t grab it.
  • If your phone is stolen, don’t resist. Call police (216.368.3333) immediately and give a description of the suspect.
  • Make sure your phone is password protected, so no one can access your information without first entering the correct passcode.
  • Register your phone’s serial number with its manufacturer in case it gets stolen.
  • Install apps on your phone (such as Find My iPhone) that can use GPS technology to track your phone if it is stolen or missing.

Other Prevalent Crimes

A number of other types of theft have been reported on campus in recent years. Highly sought-after items include purses, laptops and, especially in the summer months, bicycles.

Prevention Tips

  • Never leave belongings unattended.
  • When parking your car, always hide valuables from sight (ideally in the trunk) or remove them from the vehicle.
  • Use proper locking systems on bikes.
  • Take advantage of Safe Ride, the university’s free transportation service from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
  • Walk in pairs or groups; if you don’t have someone to walk with, the university offers 24/7 walking escorts, which can be requested by calling 216.368.3333.

In any situation, Hardee and Jamieson cautioned, always be aware of your surroundings. Although it remains lighter outside in the summer, there are fewer people on campus, so it is especially important to remain vigilant.

This means, Hardee and Jamieson said:

  • removing your headphones while walking or jogging,
  • walking with others whenever possible and
  • noticing people approaching you.

“The downward trend in crime is good,” Jamieson said, “but we continue to work to improve and expand our safety forces to monitor the campus and maintain a safe campus.”

The police department offers crime prevention presentations for departments and organizations. To schedule a time to have a police officer present, contact Sgt. Jeffrey Daberko at 216.368.1243 or

To request Safe Ride transportation, visit or call 216.368.3000. For information on shuttle bus service in the area, call 216.791.6226 or visit

In case of an emergency, contact Case Western Reserve University police at 216.368.3333.