Merry Christmas from the Student Advice Service!
The Christmas vacation will soon be upon us and most of you will likely be away from your uni accommodation.
If you live in a privately rented property your home could be a target for burglaries over the festive period – not very Christmas-y! There are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of this happening:
- Think about where you store/display presents and expensive, easily nickable equipment (e.g. wireless speakers, tablets, laptops) and don’t leave things on display in windows or where they can be easily seen. 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.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked before leaving the house – particularly if you are the last one to leave. Make this a regular habit even when going outside for just five minutes now so you have a routine in place. Five minutes is more than enough time for an opportunistic passing thief to enter your home and make off with your valuable possessions.
- Avoid leaving watches, keys, phones, tablets, 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. Try to take any valuables with you if you can carry them.
- If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, ask them to keep an eye on your house over the holidays and provide a contact number in case of any emergencies. If you don’t know your neighbours, perhaps now is the perfect time to make friends?
- Create the impression someone is in if you can. 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.
- Don’t announce you’re away from home on social media like Facebook and Twitter. 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.
- Get insurance in place before you go! There are lots of comparison websites you can use to get the best deals but also get some advice from student-specific pages such as Save the Student. Check with your parents to see if you might be covered by their insurance.
- Register with Immobilise – www.immobilise.com – 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.
- If you have a bike make sure you have a good bike lock and lock it up inside where possible (in a garage or shed, for instance)
In the unlikely event that the worst does happen and you do get burgled here’s your step-by-step guide of what you need to do:
- Call the police immediately on 101 – only use 999 for an emergency, for instance if the intruder is still in the property. If you live in halls of residence, it might be best to call university security first, as they might call the police on your behalf. Don’t wait around to do this – do it as soon as you realise the burglary has taken place.
- Don’t touch anything! The area is now a crime scene, and there will likely be forensic and other evidence which could help police solve the crime, so you don’t want to tamper with it.
- Make a list of everything you think has been damaged or stolen. This is for both the police and the insurance company for when you make your claim.
- Contact your landlord to notify them of what has happened, but also to get them to make the property secure again. For example, if a window has been broken, they’ll need to send someone round to fix it as soon as possible. Your landlord should have an out of hours emergency number for this – if you can’t get in touch with them, the police should be able to help instead.
- If your bank cards have been stolen (or a device such as a laptop or phone which stores personal financial information), contact your bank immediately to let them know. They’ll block your cards to stop someone from using them, and also add extra security precautions to your account.
- Get a Crime Reference Number from the police – you’ll need this to submit your insurance claim.
- Complete your insurance claim as soon as possible. If you can track down any receipts or invoices which prove how much the stolen items cost, this will help.
- Being the victim of a burglary can be quite a traumatising incident. The police will likely direct you towards Victim Support – www.victimsupport.org.uk – a charity which helps people deal with impact of crime. You can also contact the university Community Liaison Team, Students Union or Student Advice for further advice and support.
With thanks for all these ‘top tips’ to Save the Student and the University of Portsmouth Student Housing team! 🙂
Have a lovely break
Student Advice Service