As Isla Vista prepares for the Winter Break student exodus, the I.V. Foot Patrol has a few suggestions to keep personal belongings from ending up under someone else’s tree.

The number of burglaries in Isla Vista, which typically increases over the holiday season, has already shown a drastic jump from the same time period in 1999. Five residential and zero automobile burglaries have been reported over the past two weeks, as compared to eight residential and seven vehicle burglaries over an eight-week period last year.

I.V. Foot Patrol Lt. Butch Arnoldi said last year’s statistics during the eight-week tracking period, which begins Thanksgiving weekend, were unusually low, and he expected an increase in 2000.

“Last year over the eight-week period, there were eight residential burglaries and seven vehicle. [In 1998] there were 18 residential and 23 vehicle. There were a lot of factors that played into last year’s stats … I have never seen the town as empty. I don’t see it happening again,” he said. “We’re already at half of last year’s statistics and there’s six weeks to go. [The statistics] will go up, but hopefully we won’t revert to the numbers from 1998.”

Arnoldi said he recommends I.V. residents take a number of precautions in order to avoid becoming the victim of a break-in over vacation. Residents can fill out a vacation check form, which informs the IVFP of the dates a house will be vacant, so they can patrol that area more carefully, and lets the residents leave an emergency contact number.

“Number one, fill out a residential vacation form – call or come in. It’s a four by five paper, with who to contact, dates you’ll be gone. Normally, IVFP officers don’t walk in non-normal walkways, but if you fill one out, deputies will check your apartment,” he said. “If they find an unlocked window or door, they’ll secure the apartment and leave a business card. We don’t know if there was a laptop or something on the coffee table, so you can call us if anything was disturbed or a burglary occurred.”

As additional precautions, the IVFP suggests residents leave lights on a timer, secure all doors and windows, and hide or remove all valuables in sight.

“Put lights on a timer and dowels in the windows. If you know your neighbors, have them watch over the place and take in the mail. If you have an actual mailbox, don’t let all the mail accumulate,” he said. “If you have something super valuable – a laptop, or stereo – take it home with you. Don’t leave it there for someone to rip off.”

Residents leaving for an extended period of time should unplug all unnecessary electrical appliances in order to avoid fire hazards, according to Santa Barbara Fire Dept. Station 17 Captain Wess Herman.

“Any nonessential electrical devices – toasters, coffee makers, microwaves – that don’t need to be plugged in, pull the plug. There are always a number of things that can lead to an electrical fire,” he said. “If you know a friend who is going to stay in your apartment complex or dorm, let them know you’re going out of town and leave an emergency number so we can contact them if there’s smoke or it looks like its been broken into.”

Herman also said residents should leave their thermostats on a low setting and check ovens and stoves before vacating their homes.

“If you have a portable heater, leave it unplugged and if you have a thermostat, set it low. If you have a stove or oven that’s been acting up, get it checked out before you leave, or shut off the gas to your home completely,” he said. “Go to the valve on the gas line, turn it from in line with the flow, to across, or barring the flow.”

Arnoldi said residents staying in town for the vacation should take a proactive stance if they see anyone suspicious in their neighborhood.

“By all means, if you’re here for the holidays and you see someone suspicious, call the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station,” he said. “We’ve had people who looked like they were collecting cans and were checking for open doors and windows.”

The IVFP can be contacted at 681-4179.