Crime Prevention and Tips

The City of Madison, and UW–Madison, are safe communities. But there are things you can do to help protect yourself, and reduce crime on the UW–Madison campus. It’s all about reducing the “opportunity” for crime. By limiting the opportunity for crime, you limit the ability for the criminal to commit the crime.

General Safety Tips, Navigating Campus

  • If you hear something suspicious, call 911.
  • Keep your possessions in sight at all times. It only takes a few seconds for things to disappear.
  • Lock your doors and windows at all times, even if you’re home.
  • Never leave a wallet or purse on top of your desk. Take it with you or lock it in a drawer.
  • Avoid taking wallets, money, and jewelry into athletic facilities and storing them in lockers — these are targets of thieves.
  • Mark your property; place marks inside your books.
  • Be alert to potential danger. If it doesn’t look or feel right, trust your instinct and leave.
  • Don’t leave objects plainly visible in your car; secure them in the trunk whenever possible.
  • Never walk, jog, or bike alone — especially at night. Use SAFEwalk, a taxi, or Madison Metro bus service when you can’t find someone to go with you.
  • If you must walk alone or in a small group, use well-lit, well-known areas.
  • Use common sense and don’t display phones or electronics.
  • Don’t wear headphones, especially at night.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Don’t look at your phone while walking.
  • If you’re ever confronted by an individual with a dangerous weapon looking for your valuables, never risk your safety to protect your property.
  • Report suspicious behavior or criminal activity to police IMMEDIATELY by calling 911.

Computer Safety

Cyber crime continues to be a trend that affects our community. Read more about cyber security on campus, including tips on personal and departmental information security, copyright and identity theft.

Safety While You're Away

  • Lock apartment and office doors and windows before leaving for the holidays.
  • Burglars frequently target cash, laptops, phones, bikes, jewelry, etc. Don’t leave attractive items out in plain sight. If possible, store them in a locked drawer, closet or interior room. Or try to take small valuables with when you leave.
  • Draw curtains and shades and set a timer for lamps.
  • Temporarily stop mail and newspaper delivery.
  • Let a landlord, property owner, or co-worker know how long you’ll be gone and how you can be reached in the event of a problem.
  • Record serial numbers for expensive items, cameras, bicycles, etc.
  • If you own a moped, remember that it cannot be stored inside a university residence hall. Make sure to use an external locking device around a tire to prevent theft.
  • To help prevent the risk of accidental fire, make sure to unplug large electrical appliances, including computers, stereos or microwaves.

University Housing Safety Tips

  • Never prop open a building door or allow access to a stranger. University Housing has installed security cameras and monitors in its high-rise buildings, along with exterior locking and monitoring systems that notify staff when doors are ajar or propped open.
  • Residents of University Housing are urged to keep their doors locked, especially when home or sleeping.
  • If you feel uncomfortable confronting a person who is following you into a residence hall, alert your hall staff, house fellow or UWPD.
  • Always carry your key when you leave your room.
  • Do not open the door to someone who does not carry proper identification. University Housing custodial and maintenance staff members all wear identification tags with their photos and names.
  • Report any crime or suspicion of a crime at once. If UWPD is contacted within the first five minutes, police have a better chance of finding a suspect.

Off-Campus Housing

Apartment Safety

Apartments are most secure when landlords and tenants work together. Landlords must legally provide the items below for your protection. You are responsible for using these items properly and for taking proper action if they are missing or not provided.

  • Dead bolt lock: Its your best protection against intrusion. Don’t prop your door open or leave it unlocked for friends or roommates. Your landlord might supply you with extra keys if you ask. (You may be required to pay for extra copies.)
  • Main door viewer (peep hole): On main door to unit. Don’t open door to strangers. When in doubt, ask for an ID.
  • Proper lighting: Porch, yard and parking area lights, as well as common area lighting in halls and basements. Report burned out lights to the building owner or manager.
  • Request repairs promptly so you can see and so an intruder can be seen.
  • Smoke detection and early warning fire system: Test monthly. Don’t remove batteries.
  • Window locks (sash fasteners): Lock all windows before you go to bed and when you leave for an extended period of time. If locks are missing or don’t work, immediately request repairs from the owner.
  • Ventilating sash fasteners: Allows your window to remain open one to five inches for ventilation, but locks prevent entry. Required on first/ground floor windows and any windows that can be accessed from a fire escape (in addition to regular window locks).
  • Sash fasteners prevent silent entry, but are not as effective as regular window locks.

If you are missing any of the items listed, call your landlord. If after calling your landlord, you have trouble getting security devices installed, fixed or replaced, visit the Madison Tenant Resource Center.

Additional Apartment Safety Tips

  • Keep your windows and doors locked both when occupied and unoccupied.
  • Don’t buzz people you don’t know into the building.
  • Never prop open an exterior building door.
  • Report safety concerns (non-working hallway or outside lights, locks, etc.) to your property owner or manager immediately.

When Considering Off-Campus Housing

  • Personally check out the area. Do you feel comfortable? Trust your feelings and your common sense.
  • Talk with other tenants who live in the building or in the area about how comfortable or safe they feel. Ask about any crime problems in the building or neighborhood.
  • Check out the housing unit for adequate locks on windows and doors. Are outside doors securely locked? Do doors into apartments have a deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw? If the housing unit is on the first or second floor, or if the windows are accessible by trees/fire escapes, do the windows have sash-fastener window locks? Landlords are legally required to provide certain security features. See below for details.
  • Return in the evening and check out the lighting in hallways and outside the building. Are parking areas well-lit?
  • Check out transportation availability. Is the walk to the bus stop well-lit?