Theft Prevention Tips

Theft is the most common crime on the Berkeley campus. Most thefts occur during the daylight hours, and in 80% of reported thefts and burglaries, thieves enter the structure without forced entry. This means our collective awareness and responsibility can really make a difference.

Bicycle Theft Prevention

Bicycle theft has become a tremendous problem on college campuses, and the Berkeley campus is no exception. Bicycles and bicycle parts, including seats and "quick release" wheels, are in big demand, and thieves are well-equipped and well-organized.

Some campus buildings allow bicycles to be stored in individual offices or designated bike storage rooms. The safest place to store a bicycle is indoors, in a locked room. However, indoor bike parking is never allowed in corridors, stairwells, exit pathways. Outside, bike parking is not permitted on trees, metal poles or anywhere else where it may impede emergency exit from a building. This applies even if there is no signage specifically prohibiting bicycle parking.

You may want to consider using an inexpensive and/or used bike to ride to campus to make it less attractive to thieves.

Make It Hard To Steal

We have found that in the vast majority of bicycle thefts, bicycles were either unlocked, improperly locked, or locked with inadequate locking devices, such as lightweight cables or chains, or low-quality U-lock devices. You should always carry a secure lock whenever you plan to leave your bicycle unattended. The "U"- shaped locks have proven to be the most effective, but like all locks or chains, they can be defeated. Use a high-end "U"- shaped lock to reduce the chances of the lock being defeated. You should also exercise care in where and how you lock your bicycle.You should always lock your bicycle through the frame and both wheels to a bicycle parking rack, preferably a rack with a thicker frame. Lock all free parts of the bicycle as well or take them with you. If you lock only the front wheel you may return to find only the front wheel. Leave your bicycle in a visible, well-lighted area. Avoid leaving your bicycle locked outside overnight.

Bikers Beware

Thieves are often creative in their approach-if they are unable to steal the bike, they may try to take any valuable parts. If left unattended for long periods (overnight), secured bicycles may get their unsecured parts stolen. The thief will secure his/her older bike to a more expensive bike that is parked in a rack or other area. The thief will wait until later in the evening when the area is clear and the victim has grown tired of waiting and has exhausted all ideas on how to locate the owner of the other bike or remove the lock. When the victim leaves in exasperation, the thief will then take all that is unsecured, tires, pedals, lights, speedometer, etc. Missing parts can average between $300-$500 or more depending on type of bike and parts taken.

If this should happen to you:

  • Remove all parts possible that may be subject to theft before leaving the area for the evening or an extended period of time.
  • Notify UCPD or P&T to ascertain whether assistance is available to you. UCPD or P&T can remove the lock for you if you can provide proof of purchase and/or bicycle registration in your name.

Licensing And Engraving

Licensing discourages theft and aids in identification, should a stolen bicycle be recovered. In addition, UCPD recommends that all major components be engraved with a driver's license number or state-issued identification number. This information should be recorded and saved along with purchase receipts, manufacturer's information, and a photograph of the bicycle. Do not use Social Security numbers for engraving, as they are very difficult for the police to research.

UCPD offers free Bicycle Licensing & Registration.

Reporting Theft

If your bicycle is stolen on campus, you should report the theft immediately to the UC Police Department. Providing the police with descriptive information, such as the serial number and license number, increases the chance of recovery. To report the theft of a bicycle, contact UCPD at (510) 642-6760. For more information on locking a bike, campus bike riding regulations, and a link to resources at Parking and Transportation.

Laptop Theft Prevention

Learn more about ways to protect your laptop and information at Information Security Office website.

If you have valuable or sensitive data on your laptop, we hope you take these security measures.

  • Personal property should be marked with your Driver License number preceded by state abbreviation. 
  • Keep record of the serial number of your property.
  • There are many laptop tracking software programs available

You can also further secure your items by keeping laptops and other peripherals locked down with quality hardware (cable locks, lockdown devices, storage cabinets).

Although no office or home is completely safe from theft, you can improve the chances of recovering stolen property. 

Make it Easier to Recover if it is Stolen

You may borrow an engraver from UCPD to engrave identifying information on your laptop and other peripherals on the top or front side.

  • Keep an updated inventory of all office, lab, and home equipment.
  • Identify your personal property by engraving your Driver's License number followed by the abbreviation for the state of issue.
  • Use an engraver to identify University property.

If you would like to check out an engraver, contact the UCPD - Records Division at (510) 642-6760.

Commercial software products are available which can track a laptop's location through its connections to the Internet. Install and activate the software when the laptop is in your control, and it will be useful if a theft occurs.

Some laptop models purchased from Dell, Lenovo (IBM), HP, and other manufacturers may have Absolute Software's Computrace, which embeds a tracking agent in the BIOS. The tamper-resistant agent remains active even if the hard drive is reformatted or replaced.

Protect data

If a laptop is stolen, the loss of control of data could be just as disruptive as the loss of property. UCPD offers these recommendations to prevent laptop thefts, aid in the recovery of lost or stolen laptops, and control access to sensitive data.

The first line of defense in safeguarding sensitive data is to remove all unessential data from the laptop. If you must store sensitive data on your laptop, use encryption techniques to protect it. Many vendors offer encryption solutions. Utimaco Inc. and Absolute Software (Computrace) have partnered so their security solutions are compatible.

Computrace™ can further assure security by making it possible to remotely delete data on a protected laptop that has left your control. This data removal can be targeted at the file, directory and operating system levels. Computrace meets U.S. Department of Defense (short) standards for data removal.

Chancellor Birgneau's Message on Personal Data Security initiated an effort to define the method for appropriately encrypting data. The work to establish procedures is ongoing by UCOP.

For when you are campus for class, work, research, or other reason, follow these simple guidelines to keep your laptop or computer safe.

Library or Cafe

  • Pack up and carry your laptop with you wherever you go, even the bathroom.
  • Have someone you really trust watch it.
  • If you must sleep, sleep on your computer.

Dorm, Lab, or Office

  • Don't leave valuables in the open. If thieves see it, they'll do more to get it.
  • Lock your door when you leave, even if you are gone for a short time.
  • If you can lock up valuables in desks, cabinets, remember to lock it up every time.

Auto Burglary Prevention


If you want to be in control of where your valuables are at all times, the surest way is to carry them with you wherever you go. For items you can't afford to lose, don't leave them unattended in a vehicle.


Don't leave any of your belongings uncovered on the seat or floor of the vehicle, or anywhere they may be visible to someone looking in a window. Thieves are less motivated to break and enter if they are unable to see an item of value. Put them in the trunk. If you don't have a trunk, hide valuables under the seats, in the glove box, or other compartments within the vehicle.


This seems obvious, but unless you intend for the items in your vehicle to soon belong to someone else, you should remember to close all the windows and doors and lock up before you leave. Thieves may still attempt to get in, but at least you will have made at least one obstacle for them.


Here are the basics for protecting yourself and your belongings when parking your vehicle. Personal responsibility is the best prevention to safeguard personal property and to prevent becoming a victim.

  • Do not leave valuable items visible in your car.
  • Close all windows and lock all doors before leaving your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit, heavily populated areas.
  • Trust your instincts.  If something doesn’t feel right, find another place to park.
  • Avoid parking next to occupied vehicles.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Make a copy of your registration and insurance, and keep them in your wallet or purse.  Then remove all forms of identification from your vehicle.  Anyone with permission to drive your vehicle should also have a copy of the registration and insurance with them to furnish to the police if necessary.
  • Do not leave garage door openers in parked vehicles.
  • Take note of emergency/pay phones near where you have parked, in case you need to use them.
  • If you see any suspicious activity or individuals, please contact UCPD immediately when you feel safe to do so by dialing 911 or (510)642-3333 (from cell phones).
  • Don’t think your dark tinted windows will hide your valuables. Thieves often use flashlights to see through tint.
  • If you are parking your vehicle for several days check on it periodically.

Apartment Theft Prevention

  • Make sure your home has dead bolt locks on all doors leading to the outside.
  • Make sure all hallways, entrances, garages, and grounds are well lit.
  • Leave spare keys with friends—not under the doormat, in mailboxes, or other easily-guessed hiding places.

Coordinate with those with whom you share space. Exchange information about your schedules and watch your neighbors' houses, rooms, and work areas. Report suspicious activities to one another and to the police.

Because theft is largely a crime of opportunity, you can discourage would-be thieves by making theft a little more difficult. These tips are good for res halls, apartments, co-ops or offices.

Monitor access

  • Keep outside doors to your building or facility locked.
  • Don't let unidentified people float in behind you.
  • Ask strangers to wait in common areas while their hosts are summoned.
  • Politely offer assistance to persons in your building or residence whom you do not recognize. If they have legitimate business, they will appreciate your help. If they do not, you can ask them to leave.

If it's visible, thieves will do more to get it

  • Do not leave coats, books, or other valuable items in common areas. Keep them in your room.
  • Even in your room, keep small valuable items out of plain sight, such as in a closed drawer.

Keep things locked

  • When you are out, make a habit of keeping doors and windows closed and locked, and closing blinds or drapes. 
  • Lock up even if you're leaving only for a minute, and take your keys with you.

Suspicious Persons and Behaviors

Each of us, yourself and other residents/employees, must take responsiblity for making the campus a safer environment. Reporting suspicious persons and behaviors is an important action you can take to help the police keep the campus safe.

If you hear or see something suspicious, call the police immediately. Dial (510) 642-6760 24-hours a day direct to UCPD. In case of imminent threat to life or property, dial 9-1-1 or (510) 642-3333 from a cell phone on or near campus for emergency response.

The following are examples of behaviors that could be considered suspicious:

  • A person or persons you do not recognize going from room to room or office to office
  • A person or persons standing in a hallway for a long period of time
  • A person or persons waiting outside of the building near the time that the building will be closing
  • A person who seems to be wandering and scanning for unattended property

When you call the police be prepared to describe the person, and stay on the phone until the dispatcher tells you it is okay to hang up.