Leaving D.C. for Winter Break? Here’s What You Should Know

GW students should exercise caution as they prepare to leave campus at the end of the semester.

The GW Police Department
December 06, 2018

Before leaving the George Washington University at the end of fall semester, students should take steps to protect themselves and their possessions while they are away. The GW Police Department has some safety tips and advice for students as they leave campus or navigate Washington, D.C., leading up to winter break.

Tip #1: Lock your doors
All students living in residence halls should make sure their rooms are secure to ward off potential thieves. Lock your doors and windows, and either secure or take any expensive items, like laptops or iPads, with you. Don’t leave anything valuable out in the open where someone might be able to see it.

Although there are safety measures in place to assist with securing residence halls, these measures are only effective if they are implemented.

Tip #2: Watch your wallet
A wallet stuffed with cash and gift cards can make you a target during the holiday season. With holiday shopping in full swing, opportunists often assume people are carrying more in their wallet this time of the year. Only bring what you need when you go shopping and carry your valuables where you can see them, like in front of your body or in a zipped bag.

Students should add gift cards and credit cards to a virtual wallet if possible and reduce the need to carry cash. Use reputable sites such as Google Wallet, which has 24/7 fraud monitoring and a fraud protection guarantee.

If you can’t avoid carrying cash, only carry small amounts and keep your money in a separate place or pocket.

Tip #3: Travel with a buddy
If you are leaving campus to do holiday shopping around the city or to participate in any seasonal activities, go with a friend and let others know where you will be and what time to expect you back.

If you are still new to D.C. during the holidays, stay alert. Never follow someone into a dark area or closed-off space. Expect that criminals will take advantage of your politeness and limited knowledge of the city. Switch out your designer sunglasses, bags or book bags for less expensive items.

Tip #4: Let GW know if you are staying on campus
If you are staying in your residence hall during the extended break, let GW Housing know. This helps GWPD keep track of who should be on campus and will give officers a heads up to pay more attention to your residence hall.

Informing GWPD of your stay allows for more effective and efficient notifications and for increased patrols in those areas. Informing GWPD of your presence helps to quickly identifying persons who should not be on campus during the break.

Tip #5: Stay informed
To stay informed on what is going on around campus, download the GW PAL app on your smartphone. With the app you can check recent GW alerts, submit crime tips and use the “Arm” feature to call for help.

The student-run free EMT service EMeRG will have limited service during the break, but GWPD will still be operating 24/7. For emergency police assistance members of the GW community can call 202-994-6111.

Staying safe on campus is a year-round exercise so visit the Division of Safety and Security website for additional safety tips and videos.


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