With many students from across Avon and Somerset heading home soon for the festive period, burglars are, sadly, thinking about houses that will be left unoccupied and how they can target them this Christmas.
We’ve asked Steven Dexter, Neighbourhood Constable for the University of the West of England (UWE). for his advice on how students can avoid ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ and keep properties and belongings safe and secure, in preparation for a happy return in January.
- Doors and windows
“It might sound obvious but make sure all doors are shut and locked – bedroom door, front door, back door. Please don’t assume your mates will do it!” says Steve. “Windows need to be securely locked too, and keys removed, so they can’t be easily forced open.”
“If you can, take expensive items like laptops, tablets, and bikes with you. If you can’t, do make sure they are securely locked up and hidden away, out of sight of windows to make sure ‘The Grinch’ can’t steal Christmas this year.” Steve advises. “You can register your property for free on www.immobilise.com, which improves your chance of getting it back if burglary does take place.”
“It’s not just the cost of replacing the item; if you lose your transport to class or your latest coursework because it’s on your laptop, this is going to have an impact on your everyday life. So, your valuable items are worth keeping safe.”
“Bikes are popular with burglars, especially if high value. We suggest never leaving a bike unlocked anywhere, even if you are in the property, as it’s a quick win for opportunistic thieves who might slip into the building. It is much safer for it to be in your (locked) bedroom than a shared corridor.” Steve explains.
“Even inside, always lock up your bike securely, ideally attaching it to an immovable object, like a bedstead using a strong bike lock, or better still, two strong bike locks. A D-lock might cost a bit more (£20-£30) but it’s much harder to remove than a chain.
“If you have to leave your bike outdoors, then make sure it is securely locked up, using two D-locks to secure both the front wheel and frame to a cycle stand or solid fixing.”
“If you’re in a student house where everyone is going to be away, make it look like someone is home. Consider putting a light and/or radio on a timer, make sure post can be pushed fully through the door and put a ‘no junk mail’ sign up to reduce post left on your doorstep.” Steve suggests. “If you have good neighbours who you know and trust, you could ask them to keep an eye on the property; for example, putting out and taking in your bins whilst you’re away.”
- Social media
“Be careful what you share on social media because burglars watch social media too. Don’t tell everyone you’ve left Bristol or Bath or show your student house or road name.” Steve warns.
“And just in case there is a break-in, make sure you have phone numbers for your house mates and your landlord so you can contact them quickly if needed.”
For more student safety advice visit https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/news/2022/09/student-safety/