AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the abduction and murder of 18-year-old Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk.
The loss of this beautiful and talented young woman is one that the community will never forget.
The victim of a carjacking, Lauren was shot and killed when she tried to escape her abductor, Courtney Lockhart, who has since been sentenced to death.
"We are determined here at the Auburn Police Division that her death will not be in vain. We frequently remind our officers that something like this can happen in Auburn so to be extra vigilant," explains Chief Tommy Dawson of the Auburn Police Division.
Dawson often relives that awful night in 2008, and it is one case he will never forget.
He speaks with the Burk family at least twice a year, on Lauren's birthday and the anniversary of her death.
Dawson hopes Lauren's story will continue to remind students to be cautious, even in a town like Auburn.
"The way I look at it, I have 25,000 kids over there to take care of. Their parents entrust me to do it, so we do our very best to make sure they are all safe," says Dawson, "It's something we never want to happen again, it's horrible."
News Leader 9 reached out to the Burk family this evening, who declined to speak, but offered this statement:
"We miss Lauren today more than ever. We love her very much and thank you to the community for all of your support."
Five years later AU's Department of Public Safety, along with the police division, has ramped up their efforts in order to make campus safer.
Hundreds of cameras have been installed and are monitored 24 hours a day, along with increased patrols.
Dawson encourages residents to never walk alone at night and always know what is going on around you at all times.
"Always, always be aware of your surroundings. Young ladies we ask that you don't walk around at night by yourself. If you do have to walk at night by yourself, have your phone ready to dial 911."
Take these precautions to honor Lauren's memory.