In light of the nine reports of trespassing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last month, the UNL Police Department shared tips for the UNL community.
John Backer, police operations captain for UNLPD, said under Nebraska state law, trespassing is when a person enters or remains inside a place or building knowing they are not allowed either by signage, fencing or direct communication.
Backer said the best thing to do in trespassing incidents is to alert UNLPD of the situation. Backer said a person may be wandering through a building looking for unoccupied offices to steal personal property, or the person may be lost.
“If a person seems lost or appears to be wandering, we encourage faculty and staff to ask the person if they can help them,” Backer said. “This is a non-confrontational method to alert the person they have been noticed, but also assist those with legitimate reasons to be in the building.”
Backer said to help UNLPD officers prevent trespassing, UNL community members should ensure doors close and latch behind them when entering or exiting a building, and UNL community members should not let unfamiliar people into a building. Backer said this includes holding a door open for someone unless certain they have permission or access.
This is especially true in the residence halls, Backer said, which should be a place a resident feels safe and secure from strangers in the building.
“We encourage residents to resist holding doors open for people they don’t know, only invite guests they know personally and are comfortable with and to sign in all guests at the front desk, so housing and UNLPD can verify they are allowed to be in the building if it were to come into question,” Backer said.
Sgt. Margot Nason said UNL students should make sure their cars are locked, and that students should not give out their NCard, door keys or any personal property of that sort to anyone else.
Nason said one common way UNLPD officers find people trespassing is by someone propping a door open or holding a door open for someone.
“When we ask someone, ‘How did you get here?,’ a lot of times they answer by saying, ‘Because someone was trying to be polite and they held the door open,’ so don’t open or prop doors,” Nason said. “They’re locked for a reason.”
Nason said UNL students can call UNLPD anytime if they think someone is trespassing on campus. Nason said they can explain why they feel like that person does not belong there, whether the person is causing some sort of disturbance or going somewhere where they are not supposed to be.
“We’re happy to come check it out and figure out if that person is supposed to be there or not and what the circumstances are,” Nason said.