South Yorkshire Police constantly monitor crime trends and these show that we have certain crimes committed dependent upon external factors. One of the biggest spikes in crime in the area is when students leave or returns to University.
A student house or flat often contains many more possessions than an average family home with several occupants often having a TV, laptop, camera mobile phone etc... As a result, student houses are very desirable for burglars.
By following the below steps you can make your property less of a target.
If you are living in Halls of Residence…
- Close and lock windows and doors even if you are only going out for a short time - The majority of burglaries in halls of residence are through insecure windows or doors, and most of them occur during the evening when students have returned from lectures, and leave their rooms unlocked/windows open when they go out of their rooms for short periods of time (e.g. to go to the kitchen, bathroom or a mate’s room)
- Don’t leave anything on display particularly if you live on the ground floor - Think of your room as a tempting shop window - when you leave your room hide/lock things away, or shut curtains/blinds. If your desk is next to the window, particularly avoid leaving items (e.g. laptops) lying on the desk when you go out of the room: if someone can reach into the room, they can grab it!
- Don’t rely on access control systems on the main flat doors -Access controlled doors obviously only work if they are shut and are too often wedged open. Avoid letting people into the halls that you do not know, and avoid giving out the door codes to anyone. Do not allow anyone to 'tailgate' you through any access controlled gates or doors.
- Looking for accommodation in the private rented sector? Download a copy of the Housing Security Checklist or pick a copy up from the advice center in your student union. This checklist is designed for students to take with them when viewing prospective private sector rented accommodation. If you are a student, looking to live in the Sheffield area you should also check out the Universities Landlord Accreditation Scheme to see if your prospective landlord/letting agent is accredited.
If you are living in the private rented accommodation…
- Don’t leave anything on display – particularly anything that can be seen from outside the house. Ask your landlord if you or they can put up blinds particularly on the ground floor windows.
- If you have a side alleyway make sure that it is fitted with a secure locking gate that cannot be easily climbed over.
- If you have a burglar, alarm remember to set it when you go out.
- Use a timer switch to switch lights on, this will make it appear that you are in when you are not (at least two per household). You can get these from most DIY or electrical shops.
- Get to know the neighbours, particularly if they are full time residents, because if you are on good terms with them they are likely to look to out for your property whilst you are away during the vacation periods.
- If you are unhappy about the condition of your house, your student’s union advice centre will be able to help and advise you. You can report your house to your local council who will inspect it for a number of health and safety hazards and can assist to enforce the landlord to improve the standards if necessary.
No matter where you are living.
- Ensure that you have suitable insurance - get a specialist policy that matches your needs. Remember, your parents policy may not protect you.
- Ensure your policy protects you against sneak in thefts. Some policies will only cover you where entry has been forced.
- Take your valuables home during vacation periods. During term times most burglaries are committed through insecure doors and windows, and a burglar will prefer to use this method of entry, as it is both quiet and quick. During the vacation, however, they are more prepared to use force to gain entry, as there are very few people around to see or hear them.
- Remember that you can replace possessions but how do you replace your dissertation? Make sure that your coursework is backed up and stored separately to your computer.
- Use an UV pen to mark your property with your postcode. We advise that you use a permanent residence (e.g. family home address) rather than a university residence as this may change quite frequently. Alternatively, you can write the name of your university along with your student ID number.
You can also register your items free on the national property database, Immobilise, and use details of various electrical goods such as mobile phones and laptops – in fact any item with a serial number. You can also register pedal cycles.
Students are asked to follow their local Policing teams via Facebook and Twitter
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