Prevention, Tips, Information and Resources

Modus Operandi of Thieves on Campus: Being aware of your surroundings is the best thing you can do to to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of crime. Our campus is open to the public and as such professional thieves have access to many areas.

  • Most frequented areas thieves target: Libraries, cafeterias, lockers and lounges. (But anywhere that is open to the public is a possible target of theft)
  • Behaviour to look out for: Someone coming in who looks at the floor. Most of us look for our friends or for a table where we can sit. Our thief is looking for knapsacks that are on the floor.
    • Targeting knapsacks or bags on the floor A very common target for thieves. For this reason always keep your bag or backpack where you can actually see it.
    • Kicking or pulling the bag: The perpetrator might come along and "kick" the backpack to see if you notice. If you don't, he will probably see if he can move your backpack to get at your laptop.
    • Targeting distracted groups or individuals: He may also sit down close to a group of people who are distracted in conversation and slowly move out an unattended bag on the floor while you are talking to your friends.
    • Targeting someone who has left their laptop: Even if you have asked a friend to look after your stuff, your friend is distracted too. 
    • Targeting someone who gets a call on their cell: This trend is on the rise. Even if we are inclined to bring our laptop when we go to the stacks or washroom, the ring of the phone has an urgency that makes us rush out to the nearest exit or stairwell.
    • In terms of dress, tries to "fit" in as a student: They often have a backpack and casual attire like baseball caps etc. so that they don't stand out.
    • They use their cell as a prop or communications tool: Some thieves work in pairs so this can simply be a useful strategy to communicate. It can also be a way to look like their busy with legitimate business so you take less notice of them.



This video is a good example of the type of theft we see on campus. Here, in a restaurant, we see a group of people who are completely unaware of  a theft in progress right in front of their very noses! Take a look and try to figure out when the thief enters.

In the mean time here are some observations you can make:

Does anyone in the restaurant seem to notice anything strange? In terms of physical appearance is their anything out of the ordinary? Once he gets the laptop does he hang around? Once you become aware of your surroundings, you will notice how it is behaviour that is noticeable, not necessarily how someone looks that stands out.


Report a Theft or Crime 

If you have been the victim of or have witnessed a theft, crime or other incident in the downtown campus, dial 514-398-3000. To report a theft, crime or other incident at the Macdonald campus, dial 514-398-7777. 

Report a Theft or Crime online with the Montreal Police (SPVM)

Report a Missing Person

We recommend that concerned individuals contact the police to report a missing person. When members of the McGill community have reason to believe that a McGill student is missing, they can also contact Security Services to report it.


McGill Security Services, in collaboration with the McGill community, security experts and University partners, has developed protocols to assist students, staff and faculty members deal with the possibility of hostile individuals causing harm to others in the community. Follow the links below for more information.

Behaviours Requiring Intervention

The Student Behaviours Requiring Intervention Protocol was developed to help the McGill community report violent, threatening and worrisome behaviours.

Active Shooter Protocol

The McGill Active Shooter Emergency Protocol was devised in consultation with security experts for the protection of McGill students, faculty, staff and visitors.