There has been an increase in thefts and burglaries on campus according to PC Gary Wynne, the officer responsible for the policing of Lancaster University. The spike was particularly evident in May of the last academic year.
A spate of bike thefts were recorded, as well as the theft of laundry from the on-campus laundrettes, both crimes which had never been documented before. In addition, there was also a rise in the number of burglaries on campus, where property was appropriated from student accommodation which was not properly secured. PC Wynne has informed the University that a 17-year-old male from Galgate has been arrested and charged with a burglary in a dwelling at Graduate College and is awaiting conviction, however he stresses that this individual was not a university student, but an everyday citizen who came on campus and reached through a ground-floor window to steal the goods.
Whilst PC Wynne states that Lancaster University as an institution has very low crime rates, with an average of five crimes being reported each month, this sudden rise in thefts and burglaries should urge students to take the appropriate security measures when protecting their property.
Endsleigh, the number one student insurance provider and the only insurance provider recommended by the National Union of Students (NUS), issued a new survey on August 3, 2010 which stated that students bring approximately £4,000 worth of belongings to university with them. Endsleigh stated that the most expensive item owned by a university student is a musical instrument, averaging at £778, followed by the most common item, the laptop, at approximately £574 of which 94% of students bring to university.
Popular possessions students take to university
Portable music players
The survey also indicates that students are carrying over a third of their possessions with them at any one time, equating to around £1,300. Other popular items of value are iPods, digital cameras, hair straighteners and games consoles.
Aaron Porter, NUS President, said “modern higher education makes it necessary for students to have access to range of expensive technology and moving away from home for the first time can mean taking a lot of valuable items with you. Taking precautions against theft and damage can provide you with valuable peace of mind and ensure that you are not left out of pocket at a time when money can be particularly tight.”
Vicki O’Connell, Endsleigh spokesperson, said “students are more tech savvy than ever before. Compared to just a few years ago we are seeing a much greater number of smartphones, games consoles and laptops filling students’ rooms. As lifestyles become more mobile the ‘must have’ items become more portable”, and therefore easier to lose or steal.
As a result of the increase in thefts, PC Wynne stated, “police patrols were increased on campus to deter this crime trend. From a peak in June this minor crime wave now appears to be dissipating”. Despite this, there has been a call for students, staff and visitors alike to take stricter security measures. Therefore, it is recommended the following precautions are taken:
- Keep the doors to flats and offices locked. Do not keep them open so your friends can get in easily, as then thieves can too.
- If you are leaving your room, even for a short time, shut your window and lock your door. Do not leave mobile phones on window ledges, even though it may be the only place you get signal.
- If you have a bike, buy a good lock for it. Secure it by the frame and not the wheels. Try to get your bike into one of the secure bike sheds on campus.
- Do not leave property on display in your car.
- When moving out or into accommodation, get people to watch your car or flat door as you bring items in and out.
- Do not leave property unattended. This is particularly important in the library, learning zone, cafes, bars and the gym. Laptops and other expensive items have been taken from these locations in the past.
- Do not leave laundry in washing machines and then leave the launderette. I’d recommend taking a book with you to pass the time.
- Do not leave expensive electronic items, such as sound systems, TVs, games consoles and mobile phones in flat kitchens or communal areas. You can’t control who your flat mates bring into the flat and somebody may decide to take the equipment. This has happened in the past.
Endsleigh also suggests that students should ensure they are covered by contents insurance that is specially tailored to students’ needs, so that in the event of a theft, they are protected.
In the future, to avoid the theft of property PC Wynne says: “I and other officers will be taking any property found insecure in public places and delivering it to Lancaster Police station’s ‘found property’ for safe keeping”.