Before students dash off to Mom and Dad’s holiday bash this season, the UCSB Community Housing Office advises everyone who is heading home to take safety precautions to protect their belongings that will remain behind in Isla Vista.

The CHO offers advice for students living off-campus, including help with lease signings, dealing with roommate problems and disputes between tenant and rental companies. CHO Program Coordinator Maya Salmon said most students who live in I.V. leave town for Winter Break and do not always lock all their doors and put away their valuable possessions, making them a prime target for local burglars.

“They’re casual about locking things up, and many of them do leave,” Salmon said. “There’s less of a chance of someone seeing a crime like that happen, and it takes a while for them to notice something’s missing. It’s a popular time for break-ins. There are people who live here permanently who know this is a population that doesn’t leave their doors locked.”

The CHO is funded by student registration fees and aims to provide students with information for Isla Vista tenants, CHO Administrative Assistant Jennifer Birchim said. Right now, Birchim said, one of the main concerns of the office is the crime rate in Isla Vista over Winter Break.

“[CHO] is interested in doing something for December about giving students more information about securing their homes,” Birchim said.

On its MySpace page,, students can access information on how to protect their homes during the winter vacation. According to the CHO MySpace blog, “Winter Safety Tips for Your Home” the I.V. Foot Patrol recommend that students take a few precautions to prevent a potential Grinch from sacking their stuff.

The blog said traveling tenants should label valuable items in their residences and cars with their name and telephone number in order to make those assets more identifiable, in case of theft. Students should also take all expensive items home for the break. The blog also said residents should close all blinds and curtains, and leave spare keys with close friends, instead of under doormats.

Although Birchim said very few students take advantage of the office, the group offers advice, counseling, and guidance to students searching for homes in Isla Vista, and hosts various workshops and educational programs related to off-campus housing.

“We have a listing service so students can look on there for housing,” Birchim said. “We also have mediation and conflict resolution services. We’re a neutral party between management companies and the student. We do video taping services to help students secure their deposits, for when they move in and move out.”

Salmon said that because January and February are prime times for students to sign leases for the next school year, the office will focus on lease counseling after Winter Break.

“[Landlords] give leases in January and February,” said Salmon. “We have workshops coming up in January about teaching students in the residence halls about how to be responsible renters.”

CHO will host several events in the upcoming months to help students choose off-campushousing. More information is available on CHO’s MySpace page or in its office in the University Center.