Safety Tips

Everyone has a role to play in safety. Below are examples of things that you can do to support safety on York University campuses.

If you have any additional questions or require further clarification, then please contact the Community Safety Department at safety@yorku.ca.

General Safety Tips

York University is located in one of the safest cities in Canada and York University's campuses are very safe. In fact, they are safer than many other parts of the city. Nevertheless, safety incidents can happen anywhere and it is important to take all the same safety precautions:

  • Always be alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with a situation or person, then leave.
  • Trust your intuition -  if something feels wrong , then it probably is.
  • If you work/study alone or after normal business hours, then ensure doors and windows are properly closed and locked.
  • Keep your purse or wallet with you or locked in a secure drawer or cabinet.
  • Report any harassing behaviour or communications (e.g. obscene emails, letters or telephone calls) to Security Services.
  • Never assume that an individual wandering through a building is a member of the York community.
    • Asking simple questions such as, "May I help you?" or "Who are you here to see?" will discourage the dishonest, without intimidating the legitimate visitor.
  • Never leave visitors alone in an office, work or reception area. Never disclose confidential information to a stranger, whether over the phone or in person.
  • Report suspicious activities, criminal behaviour, property damage (e.g. graffiti) and discriminatory actions (e.g. actions that discriminate based on age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, sex or sexual orientation) to Security Services.
  • Report problems with safety equipment, such as discharged fire extinguishers, damaged emergency telephones, burned-out lights and malfunctioning electronic door access systems to the appropriate areas.
  • Use the goSAFE program for help getting to your destination safely. For more information about the program, visit the goSAFE website.

Harassing Communication

Dealing with indecent, harassing, or threatening telephone calls or email messages can be both frightening and confusing. They are also criminal offences and should be reported to Security Services and/or Police.

Strategies to deal with harassing telephone calls:

  • Hang up immediately.
  • Do not engage in conversation with the caller. This only encourages the caller to call again.
  • Do not inform the caller that you are upset or angry. These types of callers want to hear the anxiety and fear in your voice, as this is the purpose for them calling.
  • If a caller asks, "Who is this?" or "What number have I reached?," then a safe response is to ask, "What number were you dialing?".
  • Limit the amount of personal information that you leave on your phone message. Never indicate that you are away. You may be setting yourself up for a break-in.
  • Do not be fooled into giving out personal information under false pretenses. Verify the caller's identity and organization if solicited for surveys, products or services.
  • Keep a record of re-occurring obscene calls noting the date, time of call and content of a call. Do not erase or delete messages received. They may be traceable or used as evidence in a criminal proceeding.
  • If available and affordable, subscribe to call display so that you can ignore calls from unknown numbers.
  • York University will issue you a new office telephone number free of charge if you are a target of harassing phone calls. In order for Telecom York to change your number, you will be required to file a report, and they will require a recommendation and investigation by the Security Services.
  • In stalking cases, rather than changing your number, it may be beneficial to add a second line. Access to the second line would be restricted to only those who need to know this number. Messages should be monitored to assess risks and to gather evidence.
  • Report to Security Services immediately when the messages are of a threatening nature. Additional measures may be implemented to ensure your safety.

Undergraduate Residences

Strategies for students living in residence to enhance safety:

  • Treat the residence as you would your own home.
    • When you live at home, you are cautious about who enters your home and who has access to your personal property. Living on campus, you should be just as cautious.
  • Report any problems to a Residence Don, Residence Life Coordinator, Night Porter or Security Official. This includes broken safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and electronic door systems, or lights that are not working. Also, let them know if you notice any suspicious persons or activities in your building.
  • If you notice a stranger in your building, then do not hesitate to ask them who they are and who they are visiting - just as you would in your own home.
  • Do not leave doors open and do not let strangers in with you. If a stranger (e.g. delivery person or visitor) asks you to let them in the door, then, have the person contact the student they are visiting using the intercom.
  • Do not prop doors open for the sake of convenience. You may be unwittingly placing fellow residence students at risk.
  • Keep your doors and windows locked at all times. Making this a habit decreases the risk that you will forget to lock them.
  • When you hear the fire alarm, evacuate immediately. Close doors behind you, but leave them unlocked.
  • Follow guest sign-in procedures. This information will assist emergency personnel in the case of evacuation.

Break and Enters

Strategies to help minimize the risk of thefts in office areas:

  • Faculty and staff are asked to be proactive and minimize risk by ensuring office doors are properly closed and locked when leaving an area, especially after-hours.
  • If a facility is equipped with security systems, then they should be activated when the facility is not in use.
  • If university keys are lost or stolen, then immediately notify Security Services (416-650-8000 or ext. 58000). Security Officials may need to give special attention to that building in their patrols. Also, a risk assessment will be made to determine if the lock should be changed or adjusted.
  • York University staff should exercise caution when discussing/retrieving/handling sensitive or valuable information and/or equipment in front of visitors or strangers. If you observe a suspicious person loitering in an office area, then call Security Services immediately at 416-736-5333 or extension 33333.
  • For repairs (e.g. office door locks are not working properly or there are gaps between a door lock and frame), then please call Campus Services and Business Operations, Facilities Maintenance at extension 22401.
  • Consider inexpensive upgrades, such as anti-pry plates to help minimize the risk of break in and theft.

Robberies

During a robbery:

  • Remain calm.
  • Obey the robber's commands (e.g. hand over anything that the robber asks for – your life is worth more than whatever you are carrying).
  • Do not antagonize the robber (e.g. do not try to set off any alarms, make sudden moves, or otherwise anger the robber).
  • Consider all firearms to be loaded.
  • Take note of the weapon.
  • Take note of the robber (e.g. details to aid in describing any robbers and their mannerisms, such as age, weight, height, clothing, tattoos or scars).
  • Wait until the robbers have left the area to call for help.
  • Watch the direction the robbers take - if they use a vehicle, try to not the license plate number.

After a robbery:

  • As soon as you can, call the police at 911, and then Security Services.
  • Wait to speak to a police officer or security official about the incident, and try to write down as much as you can recall about it.
  • Protect the crime scene (e.g. avoid touching or moving anything until the police arrive).

Robbery Prevention Tips:

  • Avoid counting cash where others can see you.
  • Avoid making large withdrawals from the cash machine.
  • Avoid keeping large amounts of money on your person.
  • Call Security Services immediately if you feel threatened or unsafe, or to report any suspicious behaviour.
  • For more information on robbery prevention, read the Toronto Police Service's “Streetwise" fact sheet.

Personal Property

Your property is important to you, and having your belongings stolen can mean major hassles that should be avoided. Whether it is property in your dorm room, the library, or lecture halls, you always need to be conscious of the potential for someone to steal your things. Theft can be a problem no matter where you are.

Strategies to help protect property on campus:

  • Do not leave your valuables, such as your wallet, purse, or laptop, unattended at ANY time.
  • Do not lend your smartphone, tablet or laptop to a stranger. There have been incidents where the stranger has made off with the property once it has been freely handed over.
  • Consider marking up or personalizing your property in some unique way. This makes the item less saleable and therefore unattractive to thieves.
  • Create a property record (an inventory) of your valuables by photographing and taking notes on the description of your items, their serial numbers, make and model numbers and their value. Keep copies of your inventory forms and photographs in a very safe place and update the information at least once a year.
  • Lock your car at all times and do not leave valuables openly visible in the car.

Bicycle Thefts

Registering your bicycle will greatly assist in its recovery if stolen. For information on protecting your bicycle and bicycle registration, visit the Toronto Police website at http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/bike.

Information Security

For more information on online/cyber security, computing and information technology policies, guidelines and procedures, and information and computing products and services, visit the Information Security at York Website.

There are things that you can do to help deter computer theft:

  • Do not leave an unsecured computer unattended.
  • Keep doors locked when an area is not in use. Intrusion alarms and card access systems may be particularly beneficial for offices, labs and suites.
  • Ensure that the serial numbers of all components are documented in a hard copy form. Often, thieves are caught when trying to sell stolen merchandise.
  • Where possible, learn about and use products on the market to enhance the physical security of computer hardware. For a thief with expertise, it is far easier to remove memory chips and disk drives from a central processing unit (CPU) and hide them (e.g. in clothing or duffel bags) than it is to remove the entire computer.
  • Use cable locks as visual deterrents. Most manufacturers and computer stores (e.g. Data Integrity at York Lanes) offer inexpensive security cable kits. These kits contain connectors that are attached to the CPU and monitor and are interconnected by a steel cable, which in turn is padlocked to a desk.
  • Monitors, CPUs and their cases can also be alarmed using hardwire, fiber optics and theft detection systems, which can be monitored by a central alarm station.

Fiber optic theft detection alarms are used in campus labs and monitored by Security Services. If the fiber cable is crimped or severed by someone trying to remove the computer, then Security Services receives an alarm. To enhance personal safety, some of the York University computer labs, which are open 24-hours, are also monitored by Security Services using closed-circuit television cameras.


Strategies to Safeguard Information:

  • All users on a network should have their own USER ID and password.
  • Signed-on workstations should never be left unattended. They should be shut down overnight/weekends. Utilize lock utility software when you are temporarily away from your workstation. Log out of or lock your computer when not in use.
  • Encryption programs can be used for storage and transmission of sensitive documents.
  • Make sure that you use your own username and password on any York University computer. Do not share your username or password with anyone. Make sure to sign off when finished.
  • Do not lend anyone computing user IDs and password.
  • Do not let anyone watch you type in your password.
  • Do not use the same password for all accounts.
  • Do not pick obvious passwords (e.g. family names, nicknames and birth dates), even if spelled backwards. It has been estimated that up to 60% of computer passwords fall under the easily guessed category. Dictionary databases can be utilized to solve "easy" passwords and break into accounts and files.
  • Change passwords regularly. Effective passwords utilize a combination of letters and numbers.
  • Deactive dormant accounts. Password crackers look for dormant USER IDs that no one pays attention to.
  • Beware of emails and attachments from unknown people. Do not click random links in emails, or on web pages, that you are not familiar with.
  • Do not download unfamiliar software from the internet.
  • Backup your data on a regular basis and keep all sensitive materials in a secure location (e.g. disks in locked fire resistant safes).
  • Consider robust external hard drives and/or cloud-based storage options to back up your data.
  • Keep your antivirus and firewall software in order.

ELECTRONIC MYTHS AND LEGENDS

Urban legends, myths, hoaxes and netlore are simply electronic versions of tales traditionally told around campfires designed to horrify, entertain, sadden, and inform us. They can include computer virus hoaxes, chain letters, and stories of criminal incidents.The information or story attempts to pass itself off as credible and legitimate by listing impressive sounding organizations, or names and titles of supposed authority figures or even friends, and friends of friends. When one attempts to verify the authority or source, the result found is that they are non-existent. A sign that a story or rumour is an urban myth is that it seems too good to be true. From time to time, concerned community members inquire with Security Services and other campus departments as to the validity of the story or information. Some acting in good faith and looking out for the well-being of others, pass it along to colleagues. Unfortunately, some of the myths can cause undue anxiety. Before forwarding on these types of messages, please verify the information so as not to spread misinformation and fear. A variety of resources are available, such as Security Services or the York University Information Technology Support and Service, which can be contacted at: askit@yorku.ca