Marquette’s Department of Public Safety offers the Vacant House Watch Program for students during extended academic breaks while students are away from campus during the school year.
Students can sign up for the free house watch by going online or simply going to the DPS office and filling out a hard copy form. This will enroll them for the specific dates they know their home will be vacant. On the sheet, students will list a primary contact for DPS to use if there is any suspicious activity on a student’s property.
Joseph Secanky, a crime prevention officer for DPS, said the DPS officers do not actually go into the homes, but rather conduct exterior observations.
“If there is anything that we notice, such as a front door being left open, maybe a window being left open, or any type of physical damage to the property that might alert us to any type of entry or attempted entry, we look for, or maybe people loitering or trespassing on a property they do not belong,” Secanky said.
Students are also encouraged to keep all items that they plan on keeping in their residences while they are away secured.
Officers request a notification if a student is to come home early.
“If students come home early or come home in between the break because they are going to spend a day at the residence, we would want them to contact us to let us know they will be home and what specific time frame as well,” Secanky said.
Secanky also said DPS gets a majority of these requests for their homes to be watched over winter break because students will be gone for a longer period of time. He said break-ins are rare on campus, but DPS provides the service anyway.
Capt. Russell Shaw said that while it is a helpful service, students must take initiative in order for the program to be effective.
“The Home Watch Program is a great service that’s provided to the students over breaks, but it’s a shared effort and can only work if students participate,” Shaw said.
The program is able to work in large part because DPS is on duty every day throughout the year.
“We are staffed 24 hours a day, every single day of the year including academic breaks, during holidays (and) days students are given off,” Secanky said. “Even if it is a day where the university gets closed down to weather, we are still out there.”
Clare McNamara, a freshman is the College of Business, said DPS has many efficient programs that are always available to students, which make her feel safer.
“DPS makes Marquette a safer campus with their patrolling of grounds and notifications of criminal activity, which is needed for this city campus,” McNamara said.