Safety Tips

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

For more information or for questions, please contact Community Safety at safety@yorku.ca

General Safety Tips

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

  • Always be alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with a situation or person, leave.
  • Trust your intuition -  if something feels wrong it probably is.
  • If you work/study alone or after normal business hours, 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 obscene telephone calls, harassing behaviours or harassing e-mails or letters 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 graffiti or behaviours that are homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or racist, as well as suspicious activity, crime and property damage to Security Services.
  • Report problems with safety equipment, such as discharged fire extinguishers, damaged emergency telephones, burnt out lights and malfunctioning electronic door access systems to the appropriate areas.
  • Use the goSAFE program to get assist you in safely getting to your destination. (visit the goSAFE website for more information about the program).

Obscene & Harassing Communication

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

Strategies to deal with harassing and obscene 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?," a safe response is to ask, "What number were you dialing?"
  • Limit the amount of personal information you leave on your phone message. Never indicate 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 times, dates and content. Do not erase or delete messages received.  They may be traceable or used as evidence in a criminal proceeding.
  • Subscribe to call display if available and/or affordable so that you can ignore calls from unknown people.
  • York will issue you a new office telephone number free of charge if you are a target of obscene or 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, it may be beneficial to add a second line rather than changing your number. 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

Residence students can minimize the opportunity for crime to occur and enhance everyone's safety by:

  • Treating 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 Co-ordinator, 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 in your building.
  • If you notice a stranger in your building, don't 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 delivery person or visitor asks you to let them in the door -  instead, have them contact the student they are visiting using the intercom.
  • Do not prop open doors for convenience sake. 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.
  • In case of fire, evacuate immediately upon hearing the fire alarm. Close doors behind you, but leave them unlocked.
  • Follow guest sign-in procedures. This information will assist emergency personal in the case of evacuation.

Break and Enters

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 they should be activated when a facility is not in use.
  • If university keys are lost or stolen, a report should be made immediately to Security Services (416-650-8000 or ext. 58000). Security Officials may need to give special attention to that building in their patrols.  A risk assessment will also be made to determine if the lock should be changed or adjusted.
  • York 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, call Security Services immediately at 416-736-5333 or ext. 33333.
  • If office door locks are not working properly, or there are gaps between the door lock and the frame, please call CSBO - Facilities Maintenance at ext. 22401 for repairs.
  • Consider inexpensive upgrades such as anti-pry plates to help minimize the risk of break, enter, and theft.

What to do in Case of a Robbery

  • Remain calm and obey the robber's commands
  • Hand over anything they ask for – your life is worth more than whatever you are carrying.
  • Take note of weapons and consider all firearms to be loaded.
  • Do not try to set off any alarms, make any sudden moves, or otherwise anger the robber. Wait until they have left the area to call for help.
  • 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.
  • If the robber touched anything, it may be useful to the investigation, so avoid touching or moving anything until you have informed police.

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.
  • Find more information on the Toronto Police Services “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.

There are things that you can do to help protect your property while 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.
  • Take a photo record of all valuables, including recording the serial, make and model numbers.
  • 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 strategies on safeguarding your bike, safe riding tips, and/or to register your bicycle, visit and complete the online form on the Toronto Police website at: http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/bike

Information Security

For tips on Information Security check out the Information Security at York Website 

Sometimes by just keeping doors locked when areas are not in use can prevent a costly computer theft. An intrusion alarm may be of particular benefit for offices and suites. For student labs, card access systems may be a solution. Next we look at the computers themselves. A common complaint often heard is one from the office occupant who feels someone has used their computer during the night. The simplest and cheapest safeguard is password protection upon system start-up and for various network programs and files.

This simple procedure can reduce the opportunity for someone to fraudulently access files, personal e-mail and the Internet through your computer. Ensure that serial numbers of all components are documented in a hard copy form. Often thieves are caught red handed when trying to sell stolen merchandise. There are a number of products on the market to enhance the physical security of computer hardware. If a thief has the know-how, it is far easier to remove memory chips and disk drives from a CPU and hide them in clothing or duffel bags than it is to remove the entire computer.

This is why the importance of file back up is so critical. Most manufacturers and computer stores including Data Integrity (York Lanes) offer inexpensive security cable kits. The 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. However this may not prevent the expert thief from accessing the internal components. Monitors, CPUs and their cases can also be alarmed through the use of hardwire, fiber optics and over network theft detection systems, that can also 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, Security receives an alarm. Closed circuit television cameras are also used in some of the campus's 24-hour computer lab operations to enhance personal safety. The cameras are monitored by Security.


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.
  • Encryption programs can be used for storage and transmission of sensitive documents.
  • 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 (even if spelled backwards), nicknames, birth dates, spouses names etc. It has been estimated that up to 60% of computer passwords fall under the easily guessed category.
  • Dictionary data bases can be utilized to solve "easy" passwords and break into accounts and files.
  • Effective passwords utilize a combination of letters and numbers. Change regularly.
  • De-active dormant accounts. Password crackers look for dormant USER IDs that no one pays attention to.
  • Make regular back-ups and store disks in locked fire resistant safes.

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 rumor is an urban myth is that it seems to 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 your own I.T. support, Security Services and websites such as:


Lost or stolen laptops and/or corrupted data files are a surefire way to ruin your semester and cause undo stress and hardship. York provides many of the tools necessary to keep your information and computer safe, including required network user logins and passwords.

Make sure to follow smart computer practices to avoid breaches in the security of your data, such as:

  • Make sure that you are using your own username and password on any York computers. Do not share your username or password with anyone. Make sure to sign off when finished.
  • Use passwords and encryption programs if necessary.
  • Use smart password practices, avoiding common or easily guessed passwords. Change them regularly.
  • Beware of Email 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
  • Log out of or lock your computer when not in use.
  • Back-up your information on a regular basis and keep all sensitive materials in a secure location.
  • Consider robust external hard drives and/or Cloud based storage options to back up and protect your hard work and research.