Crime Prevention

Crime Prevention

TC Public Safety provides crime prevention information and seminars to members of the Teachers College community. During orientation week, crime prevention presentations and information is made available to incoming students. Throughout the year, TC PS in collaboration with CU PS, provides lectures on personal safety, the safeguarding of personal property as well as other informative information.  A PS manager is available for presentations to campus organizations, student groups and TC departments.

Bicycle Safety and Protection

  • Use a bike light when riding a bicycle at night.
  • Wear a helmet at all times when riding a bicycle.
  • Obey all traffic laws; you must stop at intersections; pedestrians have the right of way.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings; warn pedestrians when you are passing them.
  • Take extra care when passing parking lot exits or driving through parking lots.
  • Give proper hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Before leaving a lane, give a hand signal. Leave the lane only when safe to do so.
  • Secure your bicycle with a heavy duty U-lock or chain. When possible, lock at least your front wheel and frame to a bike rack or other stationary object.
  • Do not park your bicycle in a doorway, on stairs, or blocking any handicapped access. Use a bike rack.
  • Engrave or permanently mark your bicycle with an identifying number and record that number with Public Safety or the Police.

Blue Light Emergency Call

There are several Blue Emergency Lights stragetically located throughout the Columbia, TC and Barnard affiliated campuses to provide immediate response to you if you need of help or if you feel threatened in any way.  
To Operate:
  • Open door (pull handle) and depress red button to speak, release the red button to hear response.
  • Provide your location and details of incident.
  • Public Safety personnel will be dispatched.
The locations are listed below:
  • For the Teachers College campus, the blue light is located on 120th St. Between Broadway and Amtersdam Aves., adjacent to Russell Library and the  Zankel Building.
  • The Columbia University Public Safety Department maintains several emergency call boxes with blue lights on top throughout the greater Columbia University campus area.


Campus emergency call boxes are located at the following locations:

Teachers College Campus - 120th Street (see info above)  

  • Columbia University Campus
    • Southeast corner of Mathematics building (lamp post)
    • Pupin Plaza
    • Revson Plaza
    • Uris/Fairchild area
    • Outside John Jay Tennis Courts
    • Dodge Hall-upper campus entry
    • Sundial-College Walk
    • Wien Hall (gate)
    • Kent Hall (front)
    • 415 W 118th St. (Amsterdam-Broadway)
    • 514 West 114th Street
    • 614 West 114th Street (River Hall)
    • Furnald Lawn
    • 460 Riverside Drive
    • 411 West 115th Street
    • 140 Morningside Drive at West 122nd Street (parking Lot)
    • Front of 448 Riverside Drive 
  • Additional emergency call-box locations:
    • Columbia Soccer Stadium (218th St)
    • Andy Coakley Field (baseball 218th St)
    • 50 Haven Ave (on the fence in front of Bard Hall)
    • 169th Street and Fort Washington Ave (near Hammer Center side entrance)
    • 171st and Haven Ave (Towers 1 and 2)
    • 611 West 113th Street (Parking Lot)
    • West 120th Street and Amsterdam Ave
  • Destroy credit card statements, solicitations, and other documents that contain any private information. Shred this paperwork using a "cross-cut" shredder so thieves can't find your data.
  • Never leave ATM, credit card, or gas station receipts behind.
  • Secure your mail. Empty your mailbox quickly, lock it, or get a P.O. Box so criminals don't have a chance to steal credit card offers. Mail outgoing bill payments, checks, and other items from a mailbox, post office, or another secure location.
  • Safeguard your Social Security Number (SSN). Avoid carrying your card with you, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Never put your SSN on your checks; your SSN is the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts. Generally, only governmental entities will actually request to physically see your social security card.  
  • Safeguard your computer. Protect your computer from viruses and spies. Use complicated passwords and frequently update antivirus software and spyware. 
  • Know who you're dealing with. Never give personal or financial information either by phone or email to individuals identifying themselves as banks, credit cards or e-commerce companies that you don't know.
  • Legitimate companies do not contact you and ask you to provide personal data such as PINs, user names and passwords or bank account information over the phone or the Internet. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself.  
  • Guard your personal information. Ask questions whenever anyone asks you for personal data. How will the information be used? Why must I provide this data?
  • Ask anyone who does require your Social Security number, for instance, cell phone providers, what their privacy policy is and whether you can arrange for the organization not to share your information with anyone else. 
  • Review your bank and credit card statements carefully. Look for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations, and purchases listed before paying the bill. 
  • Keep track of your billing dates/cycles and follow up with creditors if you don’t receive bills/statements on time.
  • Use random letters and numbers for passwords; don’t use your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your graduation date, your social security number, or any other familiar letters or numbers that can be associated with you as passwords.

If your identity is stolen

Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, along with a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.

  1. Equifax To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285 (P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241),
  2. Experian To report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) (P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013), and
  3. TransUnion To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289 (Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634)

Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security/fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter.

If your Social Security number has been used illegally, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

File a report with Public Safety or the Police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit card company or others need proof of the crime.

Keep records of everything involved in your efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.  

Safe Havens

Safe Haven logoLocal businesses have partnered and registered with the CU Department of Public Safety and pledge to assist Columbia affiliates in distress by contacting Public Safety or the NYPD. These businesses display a distinctive logo on their storefronts as part of the safety program called "SAFE HAVEN".  Safe Haven locations are throughout the Morningside  Heights Community and offer a safe area for students, faculty, or their guests if they feel threatened while walking on the city streets.   

If you suspect you are being followed, indicate your suspicion by looking behind you.  If you are on foot, cross the street, change direction, or vary your speed.  Walk to a location where there are other people, to the nearest open store, or to a Columbia University "SAFE HAVEN" location (RED LION DECAL ON WINDOW).

Safeguarding your Personal Property 

Programs to help safeguard your personal property. 

Property Identification Programs to Safeguard Property - provided by the Columbia University Department of Public Safety, and available to TC community members:


Operation ID

Columbia participates in this nationwide program that aims to deter theft by permanently identifying valuables. The Department will mark valuable property with an indelible, inconspicuous, specially assigned number. It is recommended that you retain a photograph of anything that cannot be engraved and an up-to-date property inventory with model and serial numbers.


Operation Blue Light

This program allows Public Safety personnel to mark property with an invisible ink discernible under a special light.

PC Phone Home This innovative program is available to all members of the Columbia community. It allows authorities to locate a lost or stolen computer by identifying its location when the machine is connected to the Internet. This program is effective in any location, worldwide.


Stop Theft Tags

These tags possess a unique ID number that is entered into the STOPTHEFT database. This allows lost or stolen property to be reunited with its owner.


Bicycle Registration

The Department of Public Safety provides free registration for all bicycles. A unique ID number is applied to the bicycle and registered with the NYPD. A permanent decal is affixed to the bicycle.


Auto VIN Etching

Unique vehicle identification numbers (VIN) are etched into a car’s windows. This program reduces the risk of the vehicle’s being stolen by making the window glass traceable. It also aids police in recovering stolen vehicles by making them identifiable and can result in reduced insurance premiums.

Avoiding Theft of Personal Property

Theft is the unlawful taking of personal property and is the single most common crime on most college campuses. What can you do to prevent THEFT? Simply remove the opportunity by following the suggestions below:



  • Lock your doors/windows whenever you leave your room or apartment.
  • Do not allow unescorted strangers inside your room/apartment.
  • Be suspicious of unknown persons loitering in the area.
  • Never leave an exterior door propped open.
  • Keep a record of your valuables.



  • Avoid keeping handbags under your desk or classroom work table.
  • Lock your office door if the office is left unattended, even for short periods.
  • Do not bring large sums of cash to work or school. Carry only the credit cards and identification required.
  • If you must leave your purse or wallet in your work area, lock it in a locker or desk. In a classroom, keep it in front of you where you can see it at all times.



  • Do not leave personal property unattended even for a minute.
  • Report any suspicious persons/activities to library personnel or to the Office of Public Safety.
  • Keep personal property in view at all times.
  • Try not to bring valuables with you to the library.

Safety  Classes

Training can be scheduled on various topics including:
Situational Awareness - A presentation about everyday safety risks and how to mitigate them.  On-demand here: 

TC Situational Awareness Training Video

Emergency Evacuation Procedures -   How to properly evacuate an academic or residential building during a time of emergency. 
Subway Safety - How to stay safe around the city while using mass transportation.
Personal Safety  - How to keep yourself safe while traveling in the city.  
Crime Prevention Seminars
These interactive presentations are given during student and employee orientations and are also available to any group upon request. They provide vital information on how to reduce the likelihood of being a crime victim.  

Self-Defense Seminars

Several times each year, self-defense instructors provide hands-on training at the CU campuses. These events are extremely popular, and reservations are required.  Check the Announcement area for upcoming dates.  

If you would like more information on any of the listed topics or if you would like to schedule a class, contact PS at 212-678-3340.   


Dear TC Community,

There has been an uptick in frauds and scams directed at members of the TC
community, especially our international students. Protect yourself by becoming aware
of the latest scams.

FAKE APARTMENT SCAM: The online fraudster will pretend to be a legitimate real
estate agent and offer the victim a “too good to be true” apartment rental. They will say
the apartment may not be visited and will solicit payment via cell phone apps. The
apartment will never be delivered, and the victim’s funds are forever gone.
Warning signs: 1. The broker says the apartment cannot be inspected
2. The broker is not available to meet in person
3. The broker solicits funds via payment apps

FAKE JOB SCAM: The online fraudster will post a job using a fake .edu email, and in
the body of the listing will request that the victim email them at a different email address
because they are traveling. The fraudster will then mail a check to the victim and have
the victim cash it with the promise that a portion of the check is for pay. The fraudster
then requests the remaining funds be used to buy gift cards and asks for the serial
numbers. Several days later, the victim’s bank rejects the check and the victim is
responsible for the entire amount.
Warning signs: 1. The job posting directs to a different email

2. The person offering the job is never available to meet
3. The person sends a check and requests gift cards in return

FAKE DEPORTATION/ARREST WARRANT SCAM: The fraudster will call the victim
from a telephone number that displays Washington D.C. or another government hub city

as the location. The caller will claim to be from a government agency (DHS, USCIS,
IRS, etc.) and will say there is a warrant or deportation order and that the victim is in
serious and imminent legal trouble. The caller will know many personal details about
the victim. At some point, the caller will say the matter can be resolved through the
payment of fines and/or legal fees and will demand payment be sent via payment apps,
cryptocurrency, or gift cards. The victim does as instructed only to discover it was all a
ruse and their funds are gone forever.

Warning signs: 1. Calls from the “government” requesting payment over the phone
2. Demands for payment by cryptocurrency, gift cards, or apps
3. Unheard of fines or legal costs

UPDATE: A new variation of this scam is targeting the International Student
Community. The caller will pretend to be with a government agency from the student’s
country of origin.

FAKE CHECK CASHING SCAM: The fraudster will approach the victim with a check
that needs to be cashed, claiming that they themselves are unable to cash it because
they don’t have a bank account. The fraudster will offer the victim a small portion of the
proceeds in return. The victim deposits the check and immediately withdraws cash for
the fraudster. Several days later the check bounces and the victim is responsible for the
entire amount of the fake check.

Warning: Do not cash a check for someone you do not personally know and trust.

TEXT PHISHING SCAM: The victim receives a text message advising that the
password to their bank account has been compromised. The text message directs the
victim to click on a hyperlink to change their password. The victim clicks on the link
and logs into the bank account, but this is a fake login page and the scammers now
have the victim’s login credentials and thus proceed to drain the victim's bank account.
Warning sign: Any text message that directs the receiver to click on a hyperlink to sign
into their financial accounts is a phishing scam.

*No government agency will ever demand payment over the phone or via Zelle,
Cashapp, Venmo, etc.

*Telephone numbers are easily spoofed and may have nothing to do with the reality of
who is calling you.

*Email name headings and addresses can easily be made to look official. Anyone can
purchase an internet domain for a relatively low cost.

*In the digital age, unfortunately, all of our personal information is on sale for cheap,
both on the web and dark web, so fraudulent callers may seem to know a lot about you.

*Apartment listings that are well under market rents are usually frauds. Use a NYS
Licensed Real Estate Broker with a physical office to avoid scams.

*Once the money is sent by wire, or via Venmo, Cashapp, Zelle, or any similar electronic
payment app, it cannot be recouped.

The Office of Public Safety is here to help prevent you from becoming the victim of fraud or scams. 
If you have any doubts about a transaction, please feel free to consult with us before you
hit “Send”.

For additional information or questions please contact the Office of Public Safety at

Walking and Jogging Around Campus

  • Familiarize yourself with the layout of the campus. Survey the campus while classes are in session and after dark to see that academic buildings, walkways, facilities, and parking lots are adequately secured and well-lighted.
  • Plan the safest route to your destination; choose well-lighted, busy pathways and streets.  Avoid walking through area parks at night when you are by yourself.  
  • Share your class schedule with your parents and trusted friends and give them your telephone numbers.
  • At night, stick to well-lighted areas whenever possible and avoid alleyways or “short cuts” through isolated areas.
  • Travel in groups and avoid going out alone at night.
  • Use the campus escort or shuttle services at night. Know where the emergency call boxes are located on campus and learn how to use them.
  • If you are being followed, change direction and go to the nearest business or home; knock on the door, and request that someone call the Police. Note the description of the person following you.
  • Walk near the curb and avoid shrubbery or other places of potential concealment.
  • Tell a friend or roommate where you are going and what time you expect to return.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it; carry your wallet in an inside coat pocket or your front pant pocket.
  • Keep your keys separate from your purse or backpack.
  • Don’t overload yourself with bags or packages and avoid wearing shoes that restrict your movements.
  • Walk with a confident stride; keep your head up and look around.
  • If a motorist stops and asks for directions, keep your distance from the car.
Back to skip to quick links