Sobie Maduka didn't think twice about letting a stranger who appeared to be in need borrow her iPhone.Maduka 23, was walking out of the University of Texas at Arlington library when a man she didn't know approached."Can I use your phone?" she said he asked. "Someone stole my bag in the library."That was a mistake. He took off with her iPhone 4 and its case."It was horrible, horrible, horrible," Maduka said. "I let people use my phone all the time and nothing like this has ever happened."The theft on Aug. 29 triggered a "campus crime advisory" to students. UT Arlington police gave students the description of a potential suspect and used the incident to remind them to guard their belongings."With cellphones becoming more popular and more expensive, they are increasingly becoming more liable to theft," the police alert said.Theft of property is described as a major problem at many college campuses, including UTA and the University of North Texas. Campus police routinely warn students they must keep an eye on their cellphones, laptops, iPods, iPads and other electronic devices."Theft is a crime of opportunity," UTA Assistant Police Chief Ricardo Gomez said. "We try to educate students and tell them the best thing to do is take your property everywhere you go."From Aug. 23 to Sept. 5, there were 17 thefts at UTA, six involving cellphones, Gomez said.Gomez said unattended cellphones are a common target -- especially at the library and the Maverick Activity Center, where students work out. Students often place cellphones on the bleachers while participating in a sport. Later, it's missing.At UNT, 80 property thefts reported from January to Aug. 31. Most involved cellphones and bikes, UNT police Cpl. John DeLong said."Most of them seem to be an iPhone," he said.Security experts have some words of caution. Jeff Chovan, owner of Signal 88 Security in Dallas, said students should use passwords on cellphones, laptops, game consoles and other electronic devices that might be linked to a bank account or credit card.He also suggested that students use electronic protection for their must-do college lists."Have a plan before you leave to school," Chovan said. "Stick to your plan and constantly revisit your plan to see if you need to revise it."UTA student Kersasp Cawasji, 17, said he uses fingerprint protection on his laptop."It's a portal for them to get important information else," Cawasji said. "Through your laptop he can be doing a lot more stuff."Maduka, an Arlington resident who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, had to buy a new cellphone with money saved from her last job.She said the theft was frustrating and made her feel vulnerable despite being a careful person."I want people to be a little more careful and mindful," she said.Diane Smith,817-390-7675Twitter: @dianeasmith1
Check whether schools have programs that register possessions. UNT students can register belongings on Immobilize.net. TCU urges students to engrave valuables through Operation Identification.
Lock your dorm room door even if you are stepping out for only a few minutes. Keep the door locked while you are sleeping.
Use passwords on electronic devices including cellphones, laptops, iPads, etc.
Insure valuable devices such as iPhones and computers.
Use cable locks to secure laptops to a desk.
If lockers are available, put cellphones and laptops in one during workouts.
Sources: UNT Police Department, UTA Police Department, TCU and Signal 88 Security
In no particular order, the items stolen most at college.
Credit and debit cards
Materials used for identity theft