Winthrop University Police Department

Personal Safety

If a crime is going to occur, the offender must have three things to accomplish the task: desire, ability, and opportunity. Personally, there is not much that you can do about the offender's desire and ability. However, you can take steps to control the offender's opportunity.

Credit Cards/ATM

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation, and students may be particularly vulnerable to this crime. Learn how to protect yourself !

  • Be aware of your surroundings and take notice of anyone who does not appear to be there for banking purposes.

  • When you enter your PIN, position yourself so that people around you cannot see the key pad.

  • After completing your transaction use discretion when counting money.

  • When using the machines in a low traffic area or late at night, try to bring a companion along with you.

  • Don't give out your PIN to anyone. Even if it's someone stating they are from your bank and need to verify your PIN, do not give it to them.

  • Don't lend your card to anyone, not even your roommate.

  • Report lost or stolen cards to respective banks and to the Police.

  • Don't leave credit cards or personal checks unattended.

  • When writing a check never let the sales person write down a credit card number.

  • Destroy all carbon copies from a credit card purchase.

  • Tear up unused applications, especially those received in the mail stating you have been pre-approved.

  • If you receive a letter stating that you have received a credit card in the mail and you have not received it, notify the company immediately.   

Dealing with Harassment and Stalking

Harassment can come in many forms. A person can be harassed through the postal mail, on voice mail systems, through e-mail, on the telephone, or even in person. Unfortunately, harassment often evolves into stalking. In terms of South Carolina Law, harassment and stalking are two separate offenses. If you feel that you are being harassed or stalked (even if you are not sure), you should report this to the Police Department immediately. The following are some additional tips for dealing with harassment and/or stalking:

  • Document each encounter with the alleged suspect. Record dates, times, and what happened. Keep all written communications you receive from the suspect.

  • If you receive unwanted phone calls...Hang up as soon as you hear an obscenity, inappropriate remarks or questions, or no response to your "hello?" You do not have to listen to the caller!

  • Make a note of the date and the exact time of "each" phone call. If you receive multiple calls, keep a running log of the dates and times the calls were made. Also note if the call was a hang up, what the caller said, and anything unusual about the caller.

  • If you receive harassing voice mail or e-mail messages, be sure to save the message(s) for Police evidentiary purposes.

  • If someone is harassing you in person (i.e. bothering you at your room, car, etc.), call the Police Department immediately.

General and Personal Safety

  • You should never walk alone!  However, if you must walk alone, have a plan and choose open well lighted and well traveled areas.

  • When walking you should walk facing traffic.

  • Be cautious of drivers that stop to talk to you.

  • Be aware of your surroundings! Giving the appearance of not paying attention and not being alert is what offenders look for in a victim.

  • Never hitchhike!

  • Always tell someone where you'll be and what time you are going to return.

  • Do not wear headphones while walking or jogging.

  • Do not read while walking or standing on the street.

  • Clogs, high heels, and tight skirts are hard to run and fight in. Capes, scarves, and long necklaces are easy to grab. Consider modifying your clothing.

  • Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • If you are being followed: cross the street, change directions, keep looking back so the person knows you can't be surprised. Enter a residence hall, library, etc. Look for a crowded area.

  • Trust your instincts: If something "feels wrong", something probably is wrong.

  • If you find yourself in a situation with an assailant, don't be afraid to loudly call attention to what the assailant is doing.  Yelling "Help!", "Get your hands off me", or "This man is bothering me" might be effective.

In Your Room or Apartment

  • Always lock your door, especially when you are just "going down the hall for a moment".

  • Lock doors and windows when you are alone or sleeping.

  • Keep emergency numbers near your phone.

  • Do not leave messages on your door, or voice mail, etc., indicating you are away or when you will return.

  • Be cautious of telephone surveys and never, never give out any personal information.

  • Report suspicious persons on your hall.

  • Do not prop open doors to your building. This will put everyone at risk.

  • Keep ATM cards, credit cards, etc. in a safe place. Do not leave them lying out in the open. Never leave them on a dresser near your door. It takes less than 10 seconds to look into your open room and steal items from a dresser near the door.

In Your Vehicle

Always keep your doors locked (especially at traffic signals).

  • Keep your purse, tapes, valuables, etc. out of sight when your vehicle is parked.

  • Never pick up hitch hikers.

  • Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings and have your keys ready before you get to your vehicle.

  • If someone approaches your vehicle and attempts to enter it, blow the horn and/or drive away.

  • If you are confronted with an armed assailant, the decision to comply or resist is a personal decision based on the circumstances. Remember that any property you possess is not as valuable as your life.