Hello! It’s been a couple of quiet weeks while you all were away for the holidays! After a wonderful trip home with lots of food, family, friends and more food, you’re back and ready to dive into that stockpile of Top Ramen and mac ‘n’ cheese while memories of turkey and stuffing linger in the air. Unfortunately for a few, some have returned to school to find the Grinch mistook their apartment for Whoville and jacked the Xbox and other assorted necessities of college life. That really bites.

Someone broke into our apartment and we got ripped off last night. What do I do?

This question is unfortunately way too common in Isla Vista and the residence halls. You go out to party on a Friday night and after a few drinks – soda, of course – you come home to find that someone has gone through the apartment and taken your collection of Doors, Led Zeppelin and Bette Midler records. (The last one will be our secret.)

First of all, call the police. This is what 911 was made for! Get the cops there right away. If there is a chance the crook is still there, get out of the apartment and call from a neighbor’s house or use a cell phone. Your health and safety are not worth trading for some replaceable items.

Next, don’t touch anything. A big part of our investigation is to check for fingerprints on anything that the crook may have touched. This is also true for auto burglaries. Even if we don’t get a match on the prints we collect right away, we can compare the fingerprints to any suspects we catch later and hopefully make the crook pay restitution for your stolen goods too!

Also check with your parents’ insurance. Some policies will cover students away from home.

Your prized CD or DVD collection is also a major target of opportunistic leeches. CDs are easily traded in at some stores for a few quick bucks and are not traceable. To protect yourself, and get a better chance of getting them back, write your driver’s license number in permanent ink on the disc face – the side with the graphics and words on it. I can’t tell you how many times we have contacted somebody walking down Del Playa who just took a stack of CDs from a party, but we can’t prove it. If there’s a driver’s license number on the CD, we can identify who it belongs to and get it back to you.

I got a fix-it ticket for a broken taillight. I was given 30 days to take care of it, but I got another ticket a week later. Is that really fair?

When you get a fix-it ticket for your car, you are given about 30 days to take care of the ticket. However, getting the ticket does not allow you to continue driving the car for the next 30 days with the broken light. Each time you drive again without fixing the light, you have committed another traffic violation and you could get pulled over again and cited. Is it fair? Well, I guess you need to balance the fairness with the increased hazards to the other drivers on the road.

Speaking of fair, I received some good questions last quarter from a few students who felt that they were treated unfairly by the cops. What I have found out by talking with all of you is that there are still lots of misunderstandings going on between the police and the community. If you have an issue or problem with something that happened to you, ask me about it and I can try to give some insight. Don’t pass up your chance to Question Authority.

To ask UCPD Crime Prevention Officer Mark Signa a question, e-mail him at or call him at 893-4063.