Student homes are the perfect target for burglars. Every student will have their own tech, which means up to nine or ten laptops, smart phones, speakers, even TVs in each student home. Typically, students aren’t the most security conscious and student houses are not always finished to the highest quality, which means that basic security principles may be disregarded. Whether you are a concerned parent or a student with home security on your mind, there are lots of tips and tricks to help prevent a burglary.
Most students live in halls in their first year of university, usually in shared buildings or gated communities. It’s a fun time of meeting lots of new people, but it’s also a time when doors are left open for people to come and go. The most important thing that you can do to prevent burglary is to make sure that you’re conscious of who you’re letting in the building. It’s a simple trick for a burglar to use, but sneaking in behind you as you’re walking in, or telling you that they’re so-and-so’s friend is a well-known method of gaining entry. Be aware of who you’re giving out building codes to. On a more personal level, locking your bedroom door every time you leave it will ensure that if anyone does gain access to the building, they can’t get access to your belongings.
Private rental properties are perfect for second and third year – you’ve found some friends you trust and are happy to live with. You’re confident that you can do the living-away-from-home thing and can handle bills and other life admin. Student properties can be cheaply fitted out, which leads to security issues. Before you settle on a property, try to think the same way that an intruder might. Is there a burglar alarm? Only 22% of student homes have them fitted, making a burglar alarm a bonus! Make sure you ask the estate agent or landlord about them. Do the external doors or windows look like they could be easily forced? If corners have been cut in terms of quality, this makes it easy for burglars to use weak entry points to get inside. Once you’re all moved in, make an effort to get to know the neighbours. Not only will it help smooth things over when the occasional party gets too loud, but they will be able to help spot any suspicious behaviour.
The Basic Home Security Principles
There are some things that you can do as a student to make sure – even if your house isn’t the most secure – that the risk of your items being burgled is reduced. Lots of burglaries occur because doors or windows are left open, so double check that everything is locked before you leave the house, and always lock your bedroom door. Keep valuables hidden away, so any burglars looking for an excuse to break in will struggle to find anything of value! When it comes to new tech, be discreet. Don’t shove all your packaging and boxes outside, because it’ll alert everyone else to your new laptop. Instead, break the box up before recycling or put it out just before it’s due to get collected. Keep the outside of the property looking tidy. The more obvious it is that it’s a student house, the more likely it is that it’ll be targeted. If the house is completely empty for a period of time, perhaps over Christmas or reading week, set the lights on a timer, and make sure anything valuable is stored safely.
Protecting Your Belongings
While it’s important to do everything you can to prevent burglary, you should think about what might happen if you do get burgled. The first thing you should do is get contents insurance. It might seem like an unnecessary cost – especially if you’re living on a student budget – but think about whether you’d be able to afford a new laptop, phone or TV if it got stolen. You could see whether your parents’ home contents policy could be extended to cover your belongings too. You should also security mark your valuable items using a UV security pen, and register them with Immobilise. This means that if your belongings get stolen, they’re more likely to be returned to you if they fall into police hands. Make sure that you back up any files on a separate hard drive or on cloud storage so if your laptop is stolen, that essay you were working on is still available, and you don’t have to resort to all-nighters in the library.
If You’re Concerned
If you’re feeling vulnerable, then there are several products in particular that could help put your mind at rest. A smart home alarm system is a great way for the security conscious to feel more at ease. It’s expensive, but it’s worth the investment, especially if you take it with you when you move. They can be paired with door sensors, so you know when someone is in your room. A Wi-Fi camera does something similar, and has less of a cost attached. It would be perfect to set up in your room to catch any unsuspecting burglars (or sneaky housemates!). Finally, if you’re still not happy, consider checking in with your Police University Liaison Officer for more information and advice on keeping your property safe.
Sally Morgan blogs about home security on Safe Zone for security specialists Safe.co.uk.
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