file0001781016454Christmas is traditionally party time for students, but in the festive excitement it’s all too easy to let safety habits slip and put your home and property at risk.

Whilst crime rates have been falling over the last two decades, property crime against students remains high. For example, statistics from Knowledge Leeds show that in October 36 burglaries were reported by local students – resulting in the theft of 25 laptops with a combined value of over £9000. 50% of these break-ins took place at insecure homes and buildings where students had left windows and doors unlocked or open.

To help you avoid becoming a victim of theft this Christmas we’ve put together some useful tips.

Register with Immobilise

Immobilise is the largest free register of personal property in the world. They work very closely with the police to trace owners of lost and stolen property.  If you register your details and the unique serial numbers of your possessions, the police will be able to return recovered stolen goods to you much more quickly.

Use a UV marker

Mark your property using an engraver or ultra-violet pen and take photos of your valued possessions. This is a quick and easy way of distinguishing your belongings from other similar ones that may also have been stolen and recovered by the police.

Create the impression someone is in

A thief is less likely to break into a home if they believe someone is in. Don’t remove all of your coats and jackets from the passage door. Leave one on a door hook if it is visible from outside your home, to make thieves think you are in. Setting a light switch timer while you’re away is another great way of giving the impression your home is occupied.

Keep valuables out of sight

Think how many people may have peered through your window when they have passed by your house. Thieves are much more likely to take the risk of breaking in if they are certain there are a large amount of valuables up for grabs. Avoid leaving watches, keys, iPods, laptops etc. around your house. Store them in a safe place out of sight and choose a room other than your bedroom to hide valuable items in, since the bedroom is an obvious place to look.

Secure the doors and windows

Check all windows and doors are locked and secure before leaving your accommodation. Make this a regular habit even when going outside for just five minutes. Five minutes is more than enough time for an opportunistic passing thief to enter your home and make off with your valuable possessions.

Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions

If you get regular subscriptions or magazines delivered to your address, make sure you pause or cancel them if you are away from your home for a long period of time. Nothing says your house is empty like a stack of mail piled on the door mat so consider investing in a secure post box.

Don’t let thieves know you’re away via social media

Thieves are known to monitor social media to find out when potential victims are away from home. Keep your privacy settings locked down so that your social media accounts are not publically accessible, and if you’re away from home try not to announce it on Twitter or Facebook.

Get Insurance

Halls of residence accommodation may already be partially covered so it is best to find out beforehand and avoid spending money unnecessarily. If your accommodation isn’t covered choosing the right kind of insurance can be difficult, especially if you don’t normally insure your items. We asked Jake Butler from Save the Student for his advice on student insurance.

What type of insurance is best for covering students’ belongings?

“If students are looking to cover their belongings then they will need to get contents or gadget insurance. The main difference between the two is that gadgets insurance will only cover items such as laptops and mobile phones whereas contents insurance can include anything from clothes to jewellery.

Each company that offers contents insurance will have different terms and conditions as to what can be covered, as well as what you’re covered against (e.g. burglary, damage, loss). The most basic insurance will cover any items as long as they are within your household at the very least.” Find out more about student insurance.

Must students insure their building too?

“The answer to this is simply… no. Not under any circumstances. It is the owner of the property that is responsible for covering house insurance – which in most cases will be your landlord.”

What does the ‘excess’ mean and should students have to pay it?

Excess is the value of money that you’ll have to spend if you make a claim. As an example, if you need to replace your £500 smartphone and your excess is at £50 then the insurance company will only give you £450.

Generally a larger excess can mean cheaper insurance but it can result in forking out further down the line – so always make a careful decision when taking out insurance.”

Do you have any experience of being burgled and recovering your items? Or maybe you have some other interesting tips for student safety? Please share them in the comments below.

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