While St George’s is statistically one of the safest universities in London, student houses can still be seen as a prime target for burglars. With multiple students all living in the same building, each with their own laptop, phone and other gadgets, burglars see student accommodation as a quick win with big rewards.
This means that you have to be extra vigilant when it comes to protecting your house and your belongings - but it's not as difficult as you might think. It's said that one in three burglaries are due to doors and windows being left unlocked, so start off with the basics first - don't leave anything unlocked, even if you're in the house.
If you want to go a step further with your security precautions here are some of our top anti-burglary tips.
Make it look like you're home - even when you're not
One thing burglars know about students is that you all disappear home for Christmas, Easter and summer. Unoccupied houses are prime targets for burglars, giving them an easy way to get in and out without being discovered. However, there are things you can do to make it look like you're in the house even when you're not.
Invest in a light timer, and set it so a living room lamp comes on from around 7pm-10pm every night—much more effective than just leaving a light on for a week (plus, you won't be wasting money on electricity you're not using).
Make sure to take all your valuables with you when you go back home! Well, you might not be able to carry your flat screen TV on the train, but take as much as you can.
Get the taxi to pick you up from down the street
In the same vein, it's not a great idea to let the entire world know you're going on a night out with all your housemates. If you and your housemates pile into a taxi directly outside your house, you're alerting the driver to the fact that it's going to be empty for the next few hours.
If you get the taxi to pick you up from around the corner or down the road instead, they'll have no way of knowing which house you've just left empty.
Keep valuables away from windows
While setting your desk up in that bay window overlooking the street might look nice, leaving your laptop so obviously on display is a bad idea. Don't make it so easy for potential thieves that they don't even have to look for your stuff. If you leave it sat on a plate waiting for them, they'll look for any opportunity to quickly grab it.
It might seem a bit over the top, but it's actually best to hide your valuables when you go away or on a night out. Find a secure spot in your room, and tuck away your laptop and any expensive jewellery - just don't forget where you left them!
As tempting as it might be to open all your windows to keep cool in the heat, make sure they're all closed if nobody's home.
Get rid of packaging
Just invested in a new laptop? The worst thing you can do is dump the box outside your house for the rubbish collectors to pick up. You might as well stick up a sign saying 'Expensive new gadgets over here'. Make sure you break all packaging down and put it in the recycling bin, and cover it over with some more paper and cardboard.
Get contents insurance
We know it sounds like a drag, especially when you have so many other student bills to pay, but getting contents insurance is an investment that will pay off in the long run.
If you're in halls, you might have contents insurance thrown in with your rent, but usually this only covers limited items and they have to be in your room when they're stolen (not communal areas). It's also worth checking whether your parents' contents insurance will cover you at university too.
If you're not covered, don't panic, we know exactly how you can get cheap student contents insurance.
Register your expensive items
It's always best to prepare for the worst, and registering your valuables increases the likelihood of you being reunited with anything that gets stolen.
Head over to Immobilise to add your belongings to the UK's National Property Register. This register is used by the police to track down the owners of stolen goods - so if they recover your stolen laptop and you've logged it on the register, they'll be able to return it to you.
You'll normally have to make a note of the make, model and serial number of any electronics you have, like laptops and phones, or submit photos of things like jewellery.
If the police can't locate the owners of stolen goods they often sell them at police auctions, where you can pick up some bargains.
Invest in a sturdy bike lock
Having a bike is a great way of saving money on public transport (and saving the environment too), but they are prime targets for thieves.
Over 50,000 bikes get stolen in the UK every year, so this is security you don't really want to scrimp on. Although a good lock can be quite expensive, they work out a lot cheaper than getting your whole bike stolen!
For best protection, get a U-lock because chains and padlocks can often be easily cut with a pair of cable cutters.
When leaving your bike, lock it up inside where possible (in a garage or shed, for instance), and always chain it to an immovable object.