Most college students head off to college with lots of “stuff”. Students need to furnish their rooms, take the items that they need for daily living, take study aids, clothing, recreational items, and sentimental items that may remind them of home, family and friends. Increasingly, many of the items that students need to take to college are expensive. Students come to college armed with cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, blackberries, bikes and cars. All of these items are enticing: potentially easily stolen, and easily sold.
When it comes to theft on campus, many incidents are crimes of opportunity or convenience. Some awareness, forethought, and careful actions on the part of your college student can help him decrease his chances of becoming a victim of theft.
Take some time to talk to your student before she heads off to school about campus safety. She’ll want to be aware of how to take care of her personal safety, but she’ll also need to think about how to protect her belongings from theft. There are some relatively simple things that your student can do to help her keep track of her belongings.
- Make sure that important and expensive items are covered by insurance. This is not actually a prevention measure, but it is important. Your homeowner’s policy may cover your student’s belongings while he is at college. Read your policy carefully. Call your agent if you are unsure. If certain items are not covered, consider a separate policy or rider to cover your student while at school. Hopefully, your student will never need it, but if something happens, he will be glad to know that the items can be replaced.
- Don’t bring expensive items to school if they aren’t necessary. One of the best ways to prevent something from being stolen at college is to leave it home.
- Personalize items as much as possible. Engrave them with name, personalize with hard-to-remove stickers, use permanent marker.
- Keep a list of all serial numbers in a safe place.
- Remind your student to lock his dorm room door whenever he is not in his room. This may be the single most important rule. Your student’s dorm becomes his home, but it is a home in which he lives with many strangers. Even if he is going down the hall to the bathroom, or visiting another student’s room, he should lock his room. An open door with a laptop or other items sitting out on a desk is an open invitation. Unfortunately, many thefts that occur in dorms are not committed by strangers or outsiders.
- Get to know other students on the floor and in the dorm. Recognize and report strangers and encourage other students to do the same.
- Don’t let strangers into the building. Don’t prop security or outer doors open.
- Don’t flaunt or draw attention to expensive items.
- Invest in a good bike lock and lock car doors.
- Don’t leave expensive items out in the open – especially in a car.
- Keep track of backpacks or laptop bags. Don’t leave a bag unattended in a classroom or while you go to the bathroom or get food.
Much of theft prevention at college is common sense and awareness. Students need to feel comfortable and safe at school – and in most cases they are in a safe environment. However, your student also needs to be aware that there are many different types of people on a campus and not everyone will have similar values. Being vigilant and careful will prevent possible difficulties and hardship later.