Burglaries in UK Student Towns & Cities
After strategically procrastinating and over-indulging over Christmas, students have returned to their respective universities with a few concerns. With the most obvious anxiety being exams and coursework, students have to contend with the decision of choosing where to live in the next academic year. Whilst some may choose to stay in university or private student accommodation, many others will opt to live in a shared house. With one in every eight groups of students choosing the first house they come across, students should not rush into the decision. Instead, consider a range of factors and then make an informed choice. One overlooked factor which should weight monumentally high on the criteria is burglaries and safety and security.
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Why Student Houses Are Easy Targets For Burglaries
According to Crime Stoppers UK statistics, one in every three students unfortunately becomes a victim of crime. For some this is hardly surprising, as many students often have a relaxed attitude towards safety and security. Their attitude generally stems from a lack of responsibility from living independently and getting caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle that university encapsulates. Furthermore, with students possessing a plethora of valuable technological devices such as the latest smartphones and laptops, their houses become highly attractive propositions for burglars.
Utilising data/information from UKCrimeStats.com, locksmithservice.co.uk found out the precise number of burglaries in UK student towns and cities that had occurred within a one-mile radius of 25 different universities outside of London in 2016. The total number of burglaries for each of the represented universities accounts for the time period between January to November 2016.
The perimeter was set to a one-mile radius because the majority of students choose to live in a house which is within a manageable proximity to their university. In addition, the one-mile radius also beneficially captures all the popular student streets in each of the university towns and cities.
It should be noted that with no official data for crimes affecting students specifically available, the figures are not entirely exclusive to just students. They are relative to all victims affected by burglaries. Nonetheless, the figures provide an interesting insight into the risk that students face and the need to take precautions to protect themselves.
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Our research astoundingly found that the University of Manchester had the highest number of burglaries, with an alarming 822 within a one-mile radius. Followed closely second was The University of Leeds, which had 799 burglaries within a one-mile radius. In third place, was the University of Sheffield, which had just over 700 burglaries within a one-mile radius last year.
The University of Durham had the lowest number of burglaries, with only 96 within a one-mile radius. Comparatively, the University of Swansea and Liverpool had slightly more burglaries with 129 and 135 incidences.
Victor Baron Managing Director of locksmithservice.co.uk commented: “Moving into a house is undoubtedly a wonderful phase in any student’s life. With the freedom that a student house encompasses also come a range of responsibilities including maintaining safety and security. As research like this shows, it can become easy for students to become complacent and make their house a target for opportunist intruders. We therefore urge students amongst the fun and enjoyment of living with housemates, to safeguard their property and own personal wellbeing by consistently remaining cautious”.
Not content with just relying on existing data, locksmithservice.co.uk carried out a survey to find out how careful current students really are with respect to maintaining the security and safety of their student house. We surveyed 2000 students and found that:
The results from the survey revealed that:
“I live in a shared student house close to the university and had no idea that so many burglaries occurred within a one-mile radius. I am guilty of leaving windows open and not always locking the door when I go out. Research like this is truly shocking and has made me realise the importance of taking more caution to stop myself from becoming a target.”
– Richard, The University of Manchester
“I have heard of burglary stories from my course mates but I have never imagined myself becoming a victim. This research demonstrates that I need to be more serious about the risk of burglary happening to me; which appears to be very high. I have a tendency to leave my valuable electronic items out everywhere and it’s the little habits like this I need to eradicate to secure my possessions. This research is certainly eye-opening.”
– Lucas, The University of Leeds
“When your living with your friends, security among other things comes secondary to having a great time. Thinking about my behaviour and that of my housemates, we’re not really making our property burglar proof. We don’t lock the main door when we are asleep nor do we leave the lights on when no one is at home at night. Until seeing the figures, I didn’t really realise that burglaries were that prevalent. I am definitely going to talk to my housemates about taking more steps and actions to secure our property from uninvited visitors.”
– Mia, The University of Bristol
“Living in a shared house means you become overwhelmed by the freedom you get. With the independence you often end up forgetting the basic responsibilities that were naturally routine back home. That’s certainly been the case for me, as at home I was responsible for ensuring the safety of our house. Now at university, I find myself forgetting the basics such as not locking the door when going out or leaving all my possessions scattered across the house. Research like this reinforces the necessity to protect my belongings and not make my house a treasure chest for burglars.”
– Olivia, The University of Hull
How Students Can Safeguard Against Burglary
To avoid the loss of cherished possessions and the emotional distress caused in the aftermath of a burglary, there are numerous sensible precautions that students can take to safeguard themselves from opportunist criminals.
Remember To Lock Doors
It’s very obvious, but people have a tendency to forget about their doors. Doors are the primary path for burglars to get in, therefore everyone in the house must get into the routine of locking the door each time they go out. Similarly, ensuring the door is always locked before everyone goes to sleep at night.
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Change Old Locks
If a lock is visibly old and worn out, then request your landlord to change it. Old and worn out locks are more vulnerable to break-in’s because they are easier to tamper with. Keep in mind that in some cases, landlords may state they have changed the locks but in-fact they have just recycled them from other properties they own/manage.
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Leave Lights On
With earlier nights in winter, the darkness provides the perfect opportunity for burglars to pry out potential homes. One simple way to prevent this is by leaving lights on. Lights create the impression that someone is at home, therefore usually deterrents burglars from entering. Moreover, with every student in a shared house having different timetables, there is the opportunity to install low-cost timers to schedule when the lights come on.
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Maintain The Front of The Property
For students it can be very easy to neglect the front of the property because there is no justification for them to keep it clean. For a burglar though it can be an indication of whether someone is or isn’t occupying a property. Consequently, the recommendation would be to regularly discard any litter, cut grass and pick up newspapers/letters from outside of the house.
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It sounds like a joke but many student houses are culprit to having just net curtains. Since it’s easy to see through net curtains, especially when the lights are on, why provide burglars a free exhibition into the house? Either buy or ask the landlord for curtains to be fitted, to stop unwanted eyes from finding out what valuable items you own.
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Hide Belongings Out of Plain Sight
Students, like most people, are guilty of leaving expensive items such as laptops, smartphones, tablets and jewellery around the house. In doing so, they are leaving a goldmine of items for burglars to take without a struggle. To break out of this costly habit, after using or when going out, store items away in any secure wardrobes or cupboards. For reference, also aim to keep a record of the make, model and serial number of all owned electronic items to assist police in tracing them – should they get stolen.
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Should burglars be unsuccessful in their attempts to gain entry through the door, windows on the ground floor can provide them with the alternative access needed to get in. Alongside making sure windows are closed, fitting sturdy locks on them will enhance their ability to withstand any external attempts to loosen or open them.
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