Student Safety Guide – Avoid Burglary over the Christmas Holidays

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Student properties are a real target for criminals looking for a property to burgle. Partner this with the fact that almost 70% of student accommodation is empty during the festive season and it’s a no brainer that security needs to be thought about over this time. There are easy yet effective ways to ensure that your belongings are there for you to come back to after your Christmas break, so you can enjoy your turkey in peace!

Some areas are known to be at higher risk of burglaries and require higher safety measures and care. A ‘safety league table’ created by the Safe Shop shows which university cities are higher at risk than others. The top 5 at risk are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Wolverhampton
  • Walsall
  • Huddersfield
  • Birmingham

Of course when in any city safety measures should be taken when away over Christmas. Initiatives are run by most police constabularies and councils to assist in safety for the area. For example, the Greater Manchester police run a team of ‘Crime Reduction Specialists’ that are available to be contacted for expert advice for Manchester areas. Take a look at your local police website for any similar initiatives.

Michaels Fraser is an ex-burglar turned BBC presenter for ‘Beat the Burglar’. Speaking to him he was able to provide tips at what the risks and tips for students are…

Remember to check your locks – Are they safe enough?

It’s all well and good having a lock on the front and back door of the house, though if this lock isn’t more than just a single Yale lock then there’s no guarantee burglars are going to be kept out. On both front and back doors it is recommended that any landlord fits you with a five lever mortice deadlock to stop break-ins.

Make sure that windows are sufficiently secured as well. A single lock on a window can easily be prised open by someone who knows how; consider asking for a second security measure such as a ‘security jammer’. Of course no amount of locks are going to stop a burglar entering through a door or window that has been left open. Even if just popping round the corner doors and windows should be locked.

Your valuables should be in a safe place and out of sight

Ensure that valuables aren’t left in sight of the ground floor windows or through the letterbox. This is only giving a reason for a burglar to enter the house. If your window looks like it might be vulnerable to unwanted people looking through and there are no curtains, ask the landlord to provide them or blinds. You can register your valuables with Immobilise – ‘the UK national property register’ for no charge. This will match you up with any items found by police in the case of a burglary. Well worth doing!

Personal information is valuable – don’t make it available on social media

A burglar will use whatever information that they have to hand to determine who they can target. Now social media has become a tool for the burglar to see who lives in the area and whether they’re in the house or not. If your account isn’t sufficiently protected and you advertise ‘home for the holidays!’ it’s a clear signal to anyone looking to enter a house that they have a window of opportunity. Use the security settings on your social media accounts.

Make the house look lived in

The first thing that a burglar will look for in a house is whether it is being lived in. The last thing that they’re looking for is being confronted by someone in a house so will shy away from houses they are unsure about. Although you won’t be saving on your electricity bills in doing so, a plug timer can be a wise investment if away for a long period of time to turn lights on at a certain time. Any post should be cancelled where possible to avoid a backlog of post in the letter box. Of course if you know your friendly student neighbours are sticking around for the holidays you could always ask them to keep the house looking tidy – though you probably shouldn’t pin your hope on them!

Use alarms provided

A Burglar alarm should always be used if one is fitted for the house. They are the best form of defence against burglaries yet it has been found that less than half of the students in rented accommodation who have a burglar alarms use it. If you have an alarm but no code simply ask your landlord and they should be able to provide one.

Police research shows that students are the most targeted section of society by criminals – a statistic which shows the real danger of theft if precautions aren’t taken. Start with the five tips provided and you and your belongings should be safe and sound this Christmas.

Matthew Foster

Search Laboratory