With Christmas fast approaching, most of you will be preparing to head home to celebrate with your families. But with 70% of student homes being left empty throughout the festive period, this really is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for burglars looking to strike it lucky.

It is estimated that the average person takes £1,000 worth of equipment to university. With 70% of students owning a computer or laptop, and 86% of you with mobile phones, unprotected student housing presents a veritable goldmine for any opportunistic thief. So it’s no surprise that 1 in 3 students will become the victim of crime at some point during their time at university.

So what’s the good news, you may ask. Well, there are some very simple but effective steps you can take to ensure your property doesn’t get targeted this Christmas.

Out of sight, out of mind

A large front window allows burglars to scan what’s inside your property, so store valuable items away from view to avoid tempting burglars inside. Don’t leave cash lying around and keep house and car keys out of sight. Make use of curtains or blinds to keep prying eyes away or, if you don’t have any, speak to your landlord to have some fitted.

Secure doors

Twice as many burglaries occur in private homes/flats than in halls, so it’s vital to ensure your doors are secure – a single Yale lock on your front door isn’t necessarily enough to prevent burglaries. It is recommended that both front and back doors have a five lever mortice deadlock and, if these aren’t in place, you can speak to your landlord about having these fitted.

Last but not least, don’t leave spare keys outside and remember to lock your doors if you’re going out – that goes for your bedroom door as well.

Windows of opportunity

Make sure your windows are sufficiently secured as well, particularly on the ground floor. A single lock can easily be prised open, so consider asking for a second security measure such as a ‘security jammer’.

Don’t advertise an empty property

Be careful if broadcasting details on social media about going ‘home for the holidays’ – make sure your accounts are sufficiently protected to stop the wrong people getting hold of this information.

Make your property look lived in

Before you go home for Christmas, prepare your property so it doesn’t look empty. An overflowing letterbox can be a classic tell-tale sign to any experienced burglar, so place a notice on your door requesting that no flyers are left outside. A dark house at night can also alert burglars to an empty property – you can purchase timer plugs for your lights which turn lights on at certain times of day to give the impression someone is inside. You can also ask a friend to check on the property while you are away.

Take valuables with you

If possible, take your most valuable items home with you for the holidays. Alternatively, arrange for these to be held in storage or kept with a friend.

Password protect your mobile phone/laptop etc. You are more likely to get electrical items back if they are secured, tracked and registered with Immobilise. You can download a mobile tracker app to track the location of your mobile after a burglary.

Make your mark

Mark valuables with your university name and student ID number in UV pen.

Make use of burglar alarms

Less than half of students in private rented accommodation who have alarms fitted use them, but they are the best defence against burglaries!

Insurance

The average cost of a student burglary is £900, so it’s well worth insuring your most valuable items. Don’t forget – we’ve teamed up with Endsleigh  to offer you the best deal on student insurance. Also remember to keep a list of the make, model and serial number of electrical items to help police track these.

More advice and useful contacts