Student Life

Off Campus Student Life

Safety & Security
Saint Joseph' University Public Safety and Security ( See Related Links)

Security  Checklist

  • Keep doors and windows locked
  • Cover windows completely, blinds curtains etc.
  • Never answer the door without knowing whom it is
  • Do not give out keys, entry cards or lock combinations
  • Use a light timer or leave the radio or TV on if you are not home in the evening
  • Call 911 for emergencies
  • Park and walk in a well-lit area
  • Try not to walk or exercise alone
  • Always lock your car
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Mark and take pictures of your personal possessions

How to avoid becoming a burglary victim!
The most common threat to your home is burglary. To avoid becoming a burglary victim here are some thing you can do:
Thieves are looking for items that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash.  Favorite items are cash, jewelry, watches, laptop computers, video gaming players; other small electronic devices are high on the list.  Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process.  The burglar's selection process is simple.  Choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes.  What follows is a list of suggestions to minimize your risk by making your home unattractive to potential burglars.
The first step is to "harden the target" or make your home more difficult to enter.  Remember the burglar will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess.  Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage doors.  Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest point of entry followed by the back door.  The garage and back doors also provide the most cover.  Burglars know to look inside your car for keys and other valuables so keep it locked, even when parked inside your garage.  Use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on exterior doors to resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking attempts.  A quality deadbolt lock will have a beveled casing to inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers used to shear off lock cylinder pins.   A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a 'dead latch' mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card.
  •     Use a solid core or metal door for all entrance points
  •     Use a quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt
  •     Use a quality, heavy-duty, knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism
  •     Use a heavy-duty, four-screw, strike plate with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame
  •     Use a wide-angle 160° peephole mounted no higher than 58 inches
The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden jamb kick it open.  The weakest point is almost always the strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place.  The average door strike plate is secured with only door frame molding.  These lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the door frame and can be torn away with a firm kick.  Try to use a four-screw, heavy-duty, high security strike plate.  They are available in most quality hardware stores and home improvement centers. Install this heavy-duty strike plate using 3-inch wood screws to cut deep into the door frame stud. Use these longer screws in the knob lock strike plate as well and use at least one long screw in each door hinge.  This one step alone will deter or prevent most through-the-door forced entries. 
Sliding glass doors are vulnerable to being forced open from the outside because of inherently defective latch mechanisms. This can be easily be prevented by inserting a wooden dowel or stick into the track thus preventing or limiting movement.  Other blocking devices available are metal fold-down blocking devices called "charley bars" and various track-blockers that can be screwed down.
The blocking devices described above solve half the equation. Older sliding glass doors can be lifted off their track and defeat the latch mechanism.  To prevent lifting, you need to keep the door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted.  You can also install anti-lift devices such as a pin that extends through both the sliding and fixed portion of the door.  There are also numerous locking and blocking devices available in any good quality hardware store that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally.  Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification is in place.  Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely big barking dogs.
  •     Use a secondary blocking device on all sliding glass doors
  •    Keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted
  •    Keep sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted
  •    Use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins or upper track screws
  •    Use highly visible alarm decals, beware of dog decals or block watch decal
 An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for your home to be selected by a burglar.  Ground floor windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons.  Upper floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed from a stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies.  Windows have latches, not locks and therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside.   Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows.  For ventilation, block the window open no more than six inches. In sleeping rooms, these window blocking devices should be capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire codes.  Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally.  The least expensive and easiest method is to install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel to prevent it from being lifted out in the closed position.  As a deterrent, place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification system is in place.
  •     Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices
  •     Block accessible windows open no more than 6 inches for ventilation
  •     Make sure someone cannot reach through an open window and unlock the door
  •     Make sure someone cannot reach inside the window and remove the blocking device
  •     Use anti-lift devices to prevent window from being lifted out
  •     Use crime prevention or alarm decals on ground accessible windows
  •     Cover your windows with blinds or curtains.
Good neighbors should look out for each other.  Get to know your neighbors on each side of your home and the three directly across the street.  Communicate often, and establish trust.  Good neighbors will watch out for your home or apartment when you are away, if you ask them.  They can report suspicious activity to the police or to you while you are away.  Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing vendors to mow your lawn or remove snow.  Ask your neighbor to pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and to inspect the outside or inside of your home periodically to see that all is well.  Good neighbors will occasionally park in your driveway to give the appearance of occupancy while you are on vacation.  Allowing a neighbor to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door.   Experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge.  Get to know all your adjacent neighbors
  •    Invite them into your home and establish trust
  •    Agree to watch out for each other's home
  •    Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality
  •    While on vacation, pick up newspapers, and flyers
  •    Offer to park your car in their driveway
  •    Return the favor and communicate often
Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of life and activity inside a residence.   A darken home night after night sends the message to burglars that you are away on a trip.  Light timers are inexpensive and can be found in hardware stores.  They should be used on a daily basis, not just when you are away.  In this way you set up a routine that your neighbors can observe and will allow them to become suspicious when your normally lighted home becomes dark.  Typically, you want to use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn.  Exterior lighting is also very important.  It becomes critical if you must park in a common area parking lot or underground garage and need to walk to your front door.  
The purpose of good lighting is to allow you to see if a threat or suspicious person is lurking in your path.  If you can see a potential threat in advance then you at least have the choice and chance to avoid it.  Exterior lighting needs to bright enough for you to see 100 feet and it helps if you can identify colors.  Good lighting is definitely a deterrent to criminals because they don't want to be seen or identified.
Security lights with infra-red motion sensors are relatively inexpensive and can easily replace an exterior porch light or side door light on single family homes.  The heat-motion sensor can be adjusted to detect body heat and can be programmed to reset after one minute.  These security lights are highly recommended for single family homes.
  •     Use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy
  •     Exterior lighting should allow 100 foot visibility
  •     Use good lighting along the pathway and at your door
  •     Use light timers or photo-cells to turn on/off lights automatically
  •     Use infra-red motion sensor lights on the rear of single family homes
Alarm systems definitely have a place in a home security plan and are effective, if used properly.  Home and apartment burglars will usually bypass a property with visible alarm signs and will go to another property without such a sign.  Alarm systems need to be properly installed and maintained.  Alarms systems can monitor for fire as well as burglary for the same price.  All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective in case someone does break in.  However, these audible alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one or two minutes. Alarm systems are effective deterrents with visible signage.
  •     Alarm systems to be properly installed, programmed, and maintained
  •     Alarm systems need to have an audible horn or bell to be effective
  •     Make sure your alarm response call list is up to date
  •     Instruct your neighbor how to respond to an alarm bell
Police recommend that you engrave your driver’s license on televisions, stereos, computers, and small electronic appliances.  They suggest this so they can identify and locate you if your stolen items are recovered
You should also photograph your valuables and make a list of the make, model, and serial numbers.  You should keep this list in a safety deposit box or with a relative for safe keeping.  Keep receipts of the larger items in case you need to prove the value of the items for insurance purposes.  You should also photocopy important documents and the contents of your wallet in case your home is ever destroyed by fire or flood, is ransacked, or if your wallet is lost or stolen.
  •     Identify your valuables by engraving your driver’s license number
  •     Photograph and record the serial numbers of all valuables
  •     Photocopy the contents of your wallet and other documents
  •     Store the copies in a safe deposit box or with a relative



Fire Safety

  • Portable heaters can be dangerous if used improperly. Read instructions carefully
  • Remember that kerosene heaters are illegal in any multi-unit dwelling.
  • Don't leave your cooking unattended.
  • Don't overload electrical outlets!
  • Store flammables safely.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Never burn a candle near drafts or anything that can catch fire

Required Fire Protection Devices

The Fire Code (Title 5) requires that smoke detectors (certified by a nationally recognized fire testing laboratory) must be installed in all common areas, including basements, in combination with other required alarm systems. They must also be installed outside each sleeping area. It is the landlord's responsibility to install these devices, but the tenant must make sure that the devices are in place, and that they are tested weekly. Make sure you know how to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors! A smoke detector's early warning can provide you with the extra time essential to a successful escape.

Evacuation Plan

  • If you smell smoke or discover a fire, activate the building alarm.
  • Know where your fire alarms are located and how they operate and whether or not they actually alert the Fire Department.
  • If you hear an alarm, leave at once - do not delay. And close all doors behind you!
  • Call 911. Say "I want to report a fire" and give a complete name and address.
  • Have an escape plan. Know where the fire exits are, and have two escape routes from each room.
  • Accommodate the needs of people who may need help to escape.
  • Have a safe place where everyone can meet for a headcount.
  • Make sure all residents know the plan, and schedule fire drills at least twice a year.
  • Avoid elevators. Use the stairs.
  • Feel all doors before opening; if it feels hot, or if smoke is seeping out, DO NOT OPEN IT.
  • If you become trapped in your apartment and cannot reach a fire exit, do not panic. Close your door and seal off any cracks with wet towels. If you can, call the Fire Department, give them your name, address and location in the building.
  • Open a window for air and signal for help. Do not jump! WAIT for help.
  • If in smoke or heat, stay low, where the air is better. Take short, quick breaths through the nose until you reach safety.

Apartment Insurance

If you have items that would be costly to replace, consider getting apartment insurance.  The property owner's insurance policy for a rental property does not cover the tenant's personal belongings, nor does it offer the tenant any liability coverage.  Students can obtain tenant insurance through their parents' homeowner's insurance policy or through a reputable insurance agent.

  • Keep an inventory of all you possessions
  • Photograph the items and store photo off premises

Police & Emergency

Emergency 911
Philadelphia Police:

5th District ( Manayunk/Roxborough) 215-686-3050
19th District (City Line Neighborhoods) 215-686-3190
92nd District (East Falls) 215-686-3920

Montgomery County Police (Suburban) 610-642-4200
Bike Patrol (City Avenue Special Services District) 610-747-0311
Saint Joseph's University Security 610-660-1111

Poison Control 215-386-2100

Crime Reports

Area Hospitals

Lankenau Hospital 610-645-2000