Theft Prevention

Download the Theft Prevention and Recovery overview

The Harvard University Police Department is committed to providing the Harvard community with a safe and secure environment. Although reported crime at Harvard is low, more than 90% of it is property crime, it is important for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to remember that we are located in an urban setting. Therefore, we share many of the crime and safety issues that exist in any city. The safety and security of the University is the shared responsibility of the entire community.

Theft is a crime of opportunity. If you do not take precautions to protect your property you increase the risk that it could be stolen. Theft is the most difficult crime for the HUPD to stop, but the easiest crime for you to prevent.

You should take the following precautions to safeguard your property:

  • When you leave your room or office, even for a moment, always keep your doors and windows locked. Do not prop open or disengage the locking system on the door or windows.
  • Never leave your purse, wallet, book bag, laptop, cell phone, iPod, or other property unattended even for a moment in a public setting. If you must leave your property, leave it with someone you know, not a person studying or working in the area. Before you walk away from your property: “stop, think and secure.”
  • Never allow anyone you do not know to enter a locked building when you are entering or exiting. Do not let people “piggyback” with you! If someone does enter that you don’t recognize please call the HUPD at 617-495-1212 immediately. Do not confront them or ignore them.
  • Do not hang your pocketbook or bag over the back of your chair while you are in a dining establishment or other public place. Do not place your pocketbook or bag under the table out of sight.
  • Keep an updated list of all personal property that have serial numbers, especially your personal electronics and bicycles. Please note the MAC addresses on any technology that has access to the internet. This information may help detectives with their investigation.
  • Download the “Find my iPhone” (works for Macs and iPods as well) app.
  • Register your bicycle with HUPD's Bicycle Registration Form
  • Register your laptop with HUPD's Laptop Registration Form
  • When locking your bicycle, use a steel "U" lock rather than a cable lock. Lock the frame and tire together to a stationary object. If the bike has an easily removable seat, we recommend you remove the seat and take it with you.
  • If you are the victim of a theft, report it immediately to the HUPD at 617-495-1212. We are available 24 hours a day. No crime is too small to report to us.

Response: What to Do If You Have Been the Victim of a Theft
The Harvard University Police Department regrets that you have been the victim of a theft while working, going to school, or visiting Harvard University. The HUPD realizes that this may be a difficult time for you. In an effort to mitigate further risk to your personal accounts we have created the following checklist of personal and financial security. When your financial institutions receive timely notification regarding the loss of your property, they are in a better position to prevent fraudulent activity on your accounts. If you have any further questions regarding next steps to take, please do not hesitate to contact the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212.

  • File a police report with the Harvard University Police Department. The HUPD can be reached at 617-495-1212.
  • If you have any physical keys that were also stolen, inform the owner of that property so that the lock(s) may be rekeyed.
  • Call your financial institutions and cancel all applicable credit and debit cards. Request new cards with new numbers to ensure the protection of your accounts.
  • If your wallet contained checks, call your banking institution to receive further instructions to protect your account.
  • If your health insurance card was in your wallet, call your health insurance provider and request a new card.
  • Consider all of the accounts that may automatically deduct money from your accounts. Remember to update those accounts where appropriate.
  • If you have any membership cards in your wallet, (i.e. gym, supermarket, etc.) notify the applicable companies and request replacement cards.
  • Call the appropriate department or registry of motor vehicles and request a new license or identification card with a new number.
  • Replace any applicable government issued cards such as your social security card, military identification card, or passport.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. If you are not applying for a job or new credit, ask them to place a freeze. They will give you a personal identification number that will be needed to lift it. After 60 days, you should run a free credit report to verify your account.For more information, please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov.
  • To request a copy of your incident report for insurance purposes please email hupdreportrequest@harvard.edu.