Among the large crowds and chaos during football games in the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, UT Police Department says students and fans can take precautions to avoid theft of their personal belongings.
According to UTPD reports obtained through an open records request, three thefts were reported by game attendees during football games in 2017. Seven were reported in 2018, and seven have been reported so far in 2019, according to the reports.
UTPD officer Brandon Larner said theft is a crime of opportunity that occurs at football games because people think they can get away with it. Larner said thefts are not widely reported at football games, because people often assume they simply lost or dropped their belongings.
“It’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and be aware of who’s around you, what’s around you (and) where your stuff is set,” Larner said. “The stadium has a clear bag policy, but the less you bring, the less that can get taken. So if you have an expensive watch, maybe don’t wear the watch, or an expensive clutch or small bag, don’t bring the bag.”
Approved stadium bags include clear plastic bags not exceeding 12-by-6-by-12 inches, one-gallon resealable storage bags and small purses not exceeding 4.5-by-6.5 inches, according to the Clear Bag Policy on the Texas Athletics website.
According to the weekly UTPD Campus Watch report, during the Oklahoma State game last month, an attendee was approached by a man claiming to be an employee who offered to watch their bag for $20. The attendee observed that bag was then left behind a brick pillar, but after the game, they found the bag and noticed that a $400 bracelet was gone from it, according to the report. Larner said impersonation of event staff is less common when it comes to theft.
Corporate communications senior Jayda Lallana said protecting your belongings is up to the personal responsibility of students, not security personnel.
“At crowded events like a football game, it’s hard because there are so many people who are doing a bunch of things and moving around a lot and not paying close attention,” Lallana said. “I don’t think it’s something UTPD can really prevent.”
Lallana said lowered awareness can be a factor in theft as many students and fans drink alcohol before and during games.
“A lot of people consume alcohol at football games, so it makes being aware of yourself and your surroundings a little more difficult,” Larner said. “If you can drink less alcohol, that would be one way of protecting yourself.”
Larner also said game attendees should know the serial numbers of electronics brought to games, since stolen items are usually taken to pawn shops, which is where UTPD can find them.
“It sucks that’s there’s people out there that want to take your stuff, but that’s just kind of how it is,” business junior Courtney SoRelle said. “So you need to use common sense and be smart.”
Larner said in the event of an emergency, officers are in the stadium, but patrons can call or text 911 immediately.