5 Quick Safety Tips From Campus Police Chief Michael Phibbs

August 24, 2020

Happy to Help is a new series that offers quick tips for pesky issues—anything from how to fill out the FAFSA to what to watch during stressful times. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni will provide answers and expertise in brief listicle, visual, or video formats. All CU Denver community members can ask a question or present a solution by emailing alex.dewind@ucdenver.edu.  

This week our subject matter expert is Auraria Police Department Chief Michael Phibbs. As we look ahead to a successful semester, he’s here to remind you of a few useful safety tips if you are coming to campus—since for many us, it’s been a while! Read on to learn more about protecting yourself and your belongings on the Auraria Campus.

1. Be Mindful of Your Belongings

Most crimes on campus are simply crimes of opportunity. There are thieves that look like they could be a student wandering the campus looking for unattended property. When they see an unattended item of any value, they quickly grab the item and leave campus.

2. Always Use a U-Lock to Secure Your Bicycle

Using anything other than a U-lock to secure your bicycle is an invitation for a bike thief. Cable locks are easily defeated. Video of bike thefts on campus show an experienced thief defeating cable locks and taking a bicycle in under 12 seconds from the first time they touch the bicycle.

3. Lock Your Car

Rarely are cars on the Auraria Campus “broken into.” Almost always items stolen from vehicles are taken from unlocked cars. Thieves walk crowed parking lots pulling on door handles looking for the easy opportunity to take something. Locking your car is the easiest way to prevent property inside your vehicle from being stolen.

4. Program the Auraria Campus Police Department Numbers in Your Phone

Calling 911 from your cell phone while on campus connects you with the Denver Police Department. After you explain your emergency, the Denver Police Department will transfer your call to the Auraria Campus Police Department. This delay in a police response—even if only a few minutes—will seem like an eternity if you were worried enough about something to call 911. 

Our dispatchers are working 24/7. Calling 303-556-5000 will put you in direct contact with campus dispatchers that can get officers heading your direction while you explain why you called. You can also text in real-time and send photos to our Text-a-Tip line at 720-593-8477. 

Creating a “contact” in your phone and using a small trick will allow you to easily find these numbers when you are in a hurry. Use whatever name you want for the Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD, Campus Police, POPO, Campus 50), but use a non-alpha character as the first character in the name. This causes your phone to alphabetize the police department contact as the very first contact in your phone.  For example use an underscore: _ACPD.

5. Record Important Serial and Model Numbers of Your Valuables

Having a serial number allows law enforcement to recover your belongings from a pawnshop. It also quickly proves ownership if we catch a person leaving the scene of a crime, or if they have a lot of unexplained property on them if they get arrested for something else. A very easy way to record your serial numbers is to simply take a photograph of them and allow the photo to be stored in the cloud forever.