Ensure you are not a soft target

Avoid displaying any expensive possessions in windows and remove all expensive items if you are away from your property for any great length of time especially over Easter and Christmas.

Whilst current crime rates throughout the country are showing a general downward trend, with figures showing a 20% fall in burglary, the old maxim of ‘better safe than sorry’ seems to apply to students renting private property.

A burglary can be a very upsetting and genuinely disturbing experience for anyone, let alone a student living in rented property for the first time. Students are more often than not perceived as easy pray for burglars.

It is assumed that students neither have the money or the interest to adequately protect themselves from break-ins – an assumption that in all too many cases proves to be right. Though steps taken by University schemes and initiatives to raise the standard of student accommodation mean that student properties are becoming less and less prone to burglary.

Whilst no one wants to turn their home in to an impregnable fortress of barbed wire and watch towers, it is only common sense that you should aim to reduce the risk of a break in. There are a number of simple precautionary steps that you can take to make sure that you do not invite trouble.

No matter how proud you are of your academic background, it is not always a great idea to advertise the fact that your property is a occupied by students. It may sound a little silly, but many prospective burglars will be attracted to the possibility of a ‘soft target’.

One of the best ways of assuring against this is by removing all of those Trainspotting, Robbie Williams and ‘Student Crossing’ posters (You all know the ones I am talking about) from your front window. You should also avoid displaying any expensive possessions in windows – remove all expensive items if you are going to be away from your property for any great length of time, e.g. Christmas or Easter.

Simple things like leaving lights on and closing the curtains whilst you’re out will also help. You should make sure all of the windows and doors are securely locked.

Properties that are signed up to the University’s Accreditation scheme will be fitted with a 5 lever mortice lock (BS 3621) on both the front and rear doors.If your property is not registered to such a scheme, it is advisable that you see your landlord  about fitting appropriate locks for both your front and rear doors, as well as on windows.

Burglar alarms are also an obvious deterrent, though it is worth remembering that should you forget to activate your alarm and you are burgled it may affect any insurance claims that you choose to make.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll only be burgled when you aren’t in the house or at night. A would be thief targeting a student house in Sunderland actually walked up the path the property in full view of one student who was working at her desk by the window. The thief casually walked into the house and then two minutes later left with a video recorder tucked under his arm. If it wasn’t for a couple of vigilant students who spotted him leave he may very well have got away with it.

While the publisher was a student he had everything stolen over the easter break. Everything including his undies!! It turned out to be one of the tenants who literally stripped the whole house bare (the house had a mixture of Students, DSS & Professionals).

Fortuantely for him the thieves were so tired after loading their lorry with the booty that they just left it fully loaded. An eagle eyed neighbour had taken the number plate of the van and when the police called they found it with all the stolen property still in it.

While these two stories have a happy ending – this is not always the case.

A friend who had a collection of over 200 CDs had them stolen – never to be seen again. His CDs were is pride and joy with many rare imports. He wasn’t insured. for just a few pounds he could have had the cash to replace his whole collection. You should be insured, whether you live in a high or low burglary area make sure you are covered.

There are quite a few companies offering student schemes so you can shop arround for the best deal. See what their excess is (ie the amount you have to contribute to a claim) and make sure it covers all your larger more expensive items like computers.

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