Dorm Theft Prevention – 7 Tips to Protect Your Stuff

dorm safetyLast week we reported on a recent series of dorm room burglaries at the University of Pennsylvania. It was the second string of burglaries to occur at the famed Quadrangle dormitory since December, and it resulted in the theft of cash, laptops and other valuables. Dorm life already has enough pitfalls of its own: cramped spaces, constant sleep deprivation, and roommates who perhaps don’t shower as often as they should. You shouldn’t also have to worry about losing your MacBook to a sticky-fingered thief. Heed the following tips to prevent becoming the unwitting victim of another dorm room bandit.

1. Lock Your Doors

Don’t roll your eyes at this one. Yeah, it might seem a bit overly simplistic or obvious, but most dorm prowlers will go from door to door in search of those easy marks. Case in point: the recent UPenn burglaries. All 5 victims had reportedly left their doors unlocked prior to the robberies. When you get caught up in the communal buzz of dorm living, it’s easy to become complacent and assume that you’re constantly among friends. But it only takes one sinister sneak to ruin your whole day. We’re not saying that you should be cynical about dorm life, but you shouldn’t be naïve about it, either.

2. Install an Alarm System  

Very few dorm dwellers actually stop to consider the merits of a reliable alarm system, because on paper it sounds like overkill. But you don’t need complicated wiring and invasive installations to secure your space. Even a compact wireless alarm system, like the iSmartAlarm, can protect your dorm room as effectively as any hardwired system, and it’s no more difficult to configure than an X-Box. It can even communicate with your smartphone, sending you instant alerts whenever your security is breached.

dorm theft

It looks like an ordinary book, but it’s actually a clever hiding spot for your valuables.

3. Get Creative

Even without an alarm system, you can still take steps to discourage thieves from pilfering your valuables. For instance, no college student can function without a laptop in today’s academic environment, so secure your workstation with a simple laptop lock. If you have cash, jewelry or other valuables lying around, you can conceal them discreetly in a clever diversion safe. And with a simple decal on your door, you can deter would-be filchers before they even step foot into you room. You have a wealth of creative options at your disposal, so don’t be afraid to use the full arsenal.

4. Claim What’s Yours

While we’re on the subject of laptops, have you engraved your name onto yours? Many universities recommend that you engrave your portable electronic devices and other valuables. A simple personalized etching can act as a powerful deterrent to potential crooks, and in the event that someone does make off with your hot new tablet, your chiseled signature will greatly increase the likelihood that your stolen property is returned to you when the thief is inevitably discovered.

5. Consider Renters Insurance

Insurance isn’t just for cars, houses and lives. Many major insurance companies offer renters insurance packages designed specifically for college students. These affordable plans offer protection not only against theft, but also against the damages that occur as a result of water, fire and vandalism. It’s a great way to secure your peace of mind and establish an invaluable safety net for this unpredictable period in your life.

6. Empty Out your Car

If you’re using your car as a storage unit (as so many college students are inclined to do), it’s time for a bit of spring cleaning. Don’t leave any valuables in your car, because opportunistic criminals can and will seize upon the opportunity. It’s also a good idea to protect the vehicle itself, using an alarm system and/or steering wheel lock. A skilled car thief can bypass any deterrent, but the vast majority of car thieves are amateurs in search of an easy target. So don’t make it easy for them.

7. Familiarize Yourself with the Dorm Rules and Security Procedures

Last (but certainly not least), take some time to study and learn the rules and procedures. Get acquainted with the RAs and other dorm representatives, express with them any concerns that you may have, and be mindful of any safety recommendations made by your dorm or university. Securing your property is actually quite simple, but it does require you to be proactive. So lock up that laptop, secure your dorm room, and make some college memories.

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