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For many students, coming to West Philadelphia where crime is a constant threat can be a culture shock. Thrust into an environment where crimes occur with alarming frequency, students are forced to develop street smarts under fire. But campus crime officials say there's no need to panic. Members of the University's Safety and Security Committee and the University Police say there are several basic steps students can take to protect themselves and their friends. And College junior Jeffrey Jacobson, the Safety and Security Committee co-chairperson, said he has found that most victims of crimes in and around campus have not taken precautions. Students who use common sense, he said, are much safer. University Police Captain John Richardson said in a recent letter to the community that students and faculty must learn street wisdom along with book wisdom while at the University. "You don't have to be a victim simply because you live or work on campus," he said. "Street wisdom works on the campus just as it does beyond the boundaries of the campus." Richardson also outlined several ways students could be safer in dormitories. He advised students: · Not to prop doors open · Not to lend out their PENNcards · To lock door when sleeping and when out of their rooms · To always to escort guests in and out of building · To avoid allowing people who are not your guests to enter residence hall · To contact University Police upon receiving obscene or harassing phone calls · To report all security-related maintenance problems to residence hall staff · To be careful about leaving windows open on first-floor rooms · To attend all residence hall security programs · To report all suspicious persons in building to University Police immediately. Richardson said reporting suspicious behavior is especially important so that police will be able to respond before crime occurs. "Disinterest and complacency are the prime contributions to the success of crime," he said. "The burden of crime prevention rests not only with the University Police Department but also with each member of the Penn community. Safety is everyone's business." The police captain also said reporting crimes is crucial for future crime prevention. "University Police Officers are not omnipresent, and therefore are dependent upon you to recognize and report suspicious incidents and criminal activity," Richardson said. "Remember that unreported crimes cannot be solved. By not reporting crimes, you allow the perpetrators an opportunity to commit additional and perhaps more serious crimes." Students with security problems can call University Police by dialing 511 from any University phone. The telephone system will automatically tell police where the call is coming from. Richardson said students who live off campus can improve their safety by making an effort to be a part of their neighborhood. Introducing yourself to neighbors is a good start, he said, because neighbors will be more likely to watch out for students safety or come to the aid of a student they know.

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