Neighbour Hood Support

Reducing the risk of theft from student accommodation

Crimes committed against students can result in more than the loss of possessions and cash. It may not be possible to replace personal study notes. Precautions should be taken to protect valuables and study notes. Keeping valuables secure in student accommodation can be challenging. Electronic copies of course work should be kept in separate locations from computer hardware and backed-up regularly. People expect a lot of coming and going from student accommodation and don’t necessarily recognise "new" faces simply passing through. This helps to hide the identity of potential thieves. Being aware of the risks and taking sensible precautions can reduce opportunities for crime and the amount of loss should a burglary or theft occur. Consider the following:

  • Security of student accommodation may be difficult to maintain with new people coming and going. Greet, and if confident, challenge all visitors in a friendly way. “Are you new around here? I haven’t seen you before. Where do you stay? Who are your visiting. We look after each other around here. Can I see your ID?”
  • Keys may be copied and handed from person to person without knowledge of how many keys exist. Be aware that your flat or house key may not be exclusive.
  • Make sure doors, windows and other entry and exit points from your house or flat have good quality, effective catches and locks - deadlocks if possible. You may need to discuss security with your landlord who should be interested in protecting the property from intruders. In particular, talk about deadlocks and smoke alarms.
  • Get in to the habit of always locking doors and securing windows at night and if you're out in the garden or going out or away. Don't leave a door key hidden outside - burglars know all the places to look.
  • Typical valuable belongings include televisions, laptops, MP3 players, cameras and cash that are understandably left in a convenient and ready to use locations in accommodation. Try to lock away items that can be easily located and removed.
  • Course work will disappear with the laptop if it is stolen. If the flash-drive or additional devices are close by - they will go too! Have a plan B for storage of computer information and do not keep it in the same location or have a good hiding place for the back up device. Consider the potential of a fire or flood on your plan B. This is the only way of insuring your hard work against loss.
  • Ensure that you have recorded the serial numbers of your belongings. There is a fact-sheet and guide to help with doing this. You should record the serial numbers of your hardware and proof of purchase. This makes any insurance claim process easier and in the event that the items are recovered they can be returned quickly.
  • University courses or part-time work mean a routine and there is little that can be done about that. Think about added security such as timers to turn on the radio and lights so that it looks like someone is home.
  • If you are unable to build a basic safety conscious relationship with other tenants, then minimise publicising that your are not in - for example - don't put notes on the door stating that you will be "back in 15 minutes".
  • Contact the administration of your institution or the student body for any accommodation safety guidelines and support they might have available.
  • Explore insurance options for personal belongings. There will usually be strict acceptance criteria in large student flat situations. Students can sometimes be covered by inclusion in their parents Contents policy.
  • Burglar alarms are a good burglary deterrent. They must be activated when no one is home otherwise it can prejudice any insurance claim if a premium discount has been provided for the alarm. Be very cautious about who you give the alarm code to.

If you have suffered a loss, it is still a good idea to consider your options to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.

Removing opportunity, reducing the damage and loss that can occur if you are burgled will lessen the impact. Consider the consequences of losing not just your laptop, which can be replaced, but 12 months' work or study that cannot be replaced.

Download this fact sheet as a PDF
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