Lock me: student burglary
In Manchester more than 1,000 student homes are burgled each year.
Most burglars just want an easy life. They want to get in and out of your home as quickly as possible. Don't give them the opportunity. Follow these simple steps to protect your home and valuables.
One in three burglaries are down to people leaving their doors and windows open and unlocked. Take time to lock up properly whenever you go out and even when you are elsewhere in your property.
If you are upstairs or out in the garden, lock your windows and doors downstairs and even in hot weather, keep vulnerable windows locked at night.
Secure your doors
In many cases, criminals break into the house or flat through the door, either by forcing the lock or by kicking it in. So don't just rely on a Yale lock. Make sure your doors are strong and secure with good, solid mortice locks, preferably a five-lever mortice lock (check your insurance requirements). Look for these kinds of security features when you are choosing a property to rent and ask your landlord to upgrade them if you think they are a problem.
Secure your windows
Get locks fitted to downstairs windows and any other windows that can be easily accessed from outside. DIY shops sell reasonably priced locks that fit most windows.
Outside the house
Keep ladders and tools stored away. Don't leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home. Keep back-gates locked and wheelie bins out of the way so they can't be used to scale the wall or to transport stolen goods. Wheelie bins left out after rubbish collection can give the appearance that you are on holiday or away.
Protect your property
- Keep anything of value out of sight - do not leave laptops or other valuables on display or close to windows;
- If you buy expensive items, don't leave the empty boxes outside your house, rip them up and put them in the recycling bin or take them to a recycling centre;
- Use a light timer. They are a low cost way to make the house look occupied and you can buy these at most supermarkets and DIY stores;
- Remember to set the house alarm, if you have one;
- Keep cards and chequebooks separate. Keep a copy of your card/s details in a safe, secure place so you can cancel them quickly in the event of them being stolen;
- ID theft - people rifle through bins so invest in a shredder and use it to destroy your bank statements and other personal correspondence;
- Don't forget to insure your personal belongings. You might think it's cheaper to take the risk rather pay for insurance, but it would cost you an awful lot more to replace stolen valuables;
- Keep lists of the make, model and serial numbers of your electronic items to help Police track them down if they are stolen. Take photographs of jewellery and other small valuable items. Secure bikes at home inside a locked shed or garage or by locking them to an immovable object; and
- Mark your valuables with a UV pen and then register them for free on the Immobilise website. Both these tactics will make your valuables less attractive to thieves and increase their chances of being returned to you if they are stolen.
While you are away from your student home
Don't draw attention to the house being empty when you go away and when you are out for the night. Burglars look out for newspapers and mail in the letter-box, unlit houses after dark and other tell-tale signs, so try to make it look as though your house is occupied. Install timers, which switch lights on and off automatically.
Students and shared houses
If you share a house it's likely that you and your housemates will each have a computer, a mobile phone and other valuables. Burglars target shared houses because they know there will be more to steal. Once burgled the property is vulnerable to repeat incidents, so there's even more need to take this advice seriously.
- Make sure all your housemates follow the basic rules for home security;
- Make sure everyone gets into the habit of locking up when they go out;
- Burglars will go for properties that look insecure. Make sure your property looks well kept and tidy from the outside;
- In halls of residence, or if you live in a building that has a shared entrance, be careful who you let in or who follows you into the building. It may seem impolite but resist the temptation to hold the door open to a stranger to let them into the building - it's always best to be cautious. You can quickly explain to the person that you won't let them in as it's a house-security rule, but that they should buzz the person they've come to visit;
- In halls of residence, lock your bedroom door, even if you are only going down the corridor and never leave your keys in the outside of the door. Don't prop open external fire doors or communal doors, even in hot weather; and
- When you go home for term breaks, take all your valuables with you. If you need to leave anything in Manchester, ask your Students Union about safe storage facilities.