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Before signing a lease, it’s important to evaluate the safety of where you’d like to live. Like most cities, Durham is not immune from crime. Take the time to understand your neighborhood and learn ways to keep yourself safe.

Here are some options for learning about the safety of your neighborhood or apartment complex:

  • You can search crime statistics in your area by entering your potential address into the City of Durham’s Community Crime Map. Duke Police Department recommends focusing on crimes like larceny and burglary.
  • Before you sign a lease! Check for security features at the apartment complexes you’re interested in.

Questions to ask apartment staff:

  • Are staff present on-site? What hours?
  • Is there secure access to buildings via a key, fob, or code? Is there a gate surrounding the complex?
  • Are there cameras on the outside of the building, in corridors, at entrances/exits?
  • Is there on-site security?
  • Is the complex well-lit in parking areas, corridors, and on sidewalks?

Top 10 safety tips from Duke Police:

  1. Make sure your doors and windows are locked whenever you leave your home
  2. Know your Management Staff and Neighbors, build your Community Relationships
  3. Know your emergency contact numbers
  4. Be alert and aware of your surrounding (Learn your area and places you may travel to)
  5. Avoid isolated bus stops and stay in well lighted areas
  6. Whenever possible, travel with a friend, especially at night
  7. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return
  8. Do not use ATMs at night
  9. If you think you are being followed, walk or drive to a public place, police of fire station

Duke is actively working on safety initiatives with our partners in the city of Durham.

Here are some steps Duke has taken in the last 2 years to address the safety of our off-campus students:

In May 2022, Duke developed and hired a new position: Assistant Dean and Director of Off Campus & Community Housing, Elinor Landess. Since starting, Landess has engaged multiple landlords across Durham, and is in regular communication to proactively address safety and security issues. Dean Landess also advises Duke graduate and professional students and schools in navigating off campus housing options. Additionally, she is overseeing the new Off-Campus Student Advisory Committee. Interested graduate and professional students who would like to serve on this committee may contact

In spring 2022, Duke Parking and Transportation Services extended services on weeknights, and Duke Van service was expanded with an additional driver. During summer 2022, Duke Parking & Transportation created a Weekend Circulator in the LaSalle/Erwin area to provide transportation to campus during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. Duke Vans will continue to provide after-hours services Monday through Saturday to off-campus locations within a 2.5 mile radius of campus and to Lancaster Commons.

Duke staff are meeting regularly with off campus communities in Durham. Duke is partnering with apartment complexes in the LaSalle/Erwin area and the Durham and Duke Police departments to proactively address safety and security concerns and provide educational safety sessions for residents. Apartment complexes have enhanced security features such as maintaining vegetation to increase visibility, installing higher fencing around complexes, making exterior lighting upgrades, and increasing the presence of security patrols on their properties.

Duke is offering incoming graduate and professional students a virtual housing orientation session each summer to share information on the housing search and the transition to Duke and Durham.

In the summer of 2022, Duke began leasing an off-campus apartment complex that has been reserved for Duke graduate and professional students, known as Lancaster Commons. This new housing option will provide housing for over 380 students and includes a new dedicated bus route to provide transportation to and from campus.