Many students think of their college campuses as safe places, and often they are. But when exhausted students are toting around a laptop, a smartphone, an armful of textbooks, and a cup of coffee, it’s not hard to see why they might become a target. In 2010, 97% of over 90,000 reported crimes on college campuses were property crimes, meaning that property was taken without force. This is a lot of computers, iPods, phones, and bikes to have stolen in just one year. Luckily, a few simple steps can prevent campus theft from happening to you.


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The majority of theft prevention is common sense. Don’t leave your valuables where just anyone can take them. Lock the door behind you and keep all of your electronics password protected. By making habits out of the above tips, you make yourself less vulnerable. Hopefully you will never have to deal with the hassle of filing a police report or contacting your credit card companies about fraud alerts. If you minimize the targets, you’ll minimize the risk.

Don’t leave your things unattended.

Go to the library with a couple of friends, even if you’re all studying different things. That way, when you urgently have to go to the bathroom, the others can look after your things instead of you having to pack it all up and take it with you.

Lock up your bike and/or car.

Leaving something unlocked or unprotected is just asking for it to be taken. Invest in a good bike lock and be sure to loop it through your tires too; you don’t want to be left with a wheelless bike. It’s not a bad idea to buy a bike lock that would be tricky to destroy with bolt cutters. Your car is even easier to lock up than your bike; just don’t forget to do it!

Don’t leave valuables in your car.

Preventing theft is all about not making yourself a target. If you leave a fancy diamond necklace or an iPad in full view in the backseat of your car, don’t be surprised if you end up with a brick through your window. Keep your car clean and clear of anything that you would be unwilling to part with.

Keep your dorm room or apartment locked when you aren’t home.

If you don’t want anyone to go through your things, lock your door. Even if you’re just going to the bathroom, keeping your room locked is a good habit to have. If you leave the door open or the room unlocked, a potential thief could get a good look at what you have to offer. It’s better not to advertise.

Keep your keys on you at all times.

If your keys are with you, it means that someone else can’t be using them to get into your car or sneak into your room. There’s the added bonus of not being able to get locked out. If you lose your keys, you should assume that your locks have been compromised, so report the loss to campus security as soon as possible.

Personalize your things.

If you want to make your laptop or phone less valuable to someone else, put hard-to-remove stickers on the top. Color on the back of your phone with a permanent marker. Make sure your name is prominently displayed.

Use complex passwords for all your electronics.

If someone hacks into your junk mailbox, it may not seem like a big deal, but if that person can get into your school email, your transcripts, or your records of online purchases, you may be susceptible to credit card or identity theft. Take care to make complex passwords (long, a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, and including numbers and special characters) for all your online memberships, your email, and your computer itself. Don’t reuse the same password for more than one website. You want to make it hard for potential hackers to find out anything about you that isn’t in the public domain. Learn more about internet safety here.

Page last updated: 12/2016