Educating people on good security when going to university
SENDING your child off to university is a taxing time for any parent. With concerns for their safety and happiness weighing on your mind as they move from the family home this autumn, it is important to look at all the potential pitfalls they could face.
Whether moving into halls of residence or privately-rented accommodation, you want to be sure that the fundamental security of the property is up to scratch.
Students are one of the highest at-risk groups of crime in the country, often targeted for high-value laptops, TV’s and entertainment equipment, which are frequently left in plain view and unsecured against intruders.
It is all too easy to assume that previous residents have handed in their keys, and while this may well be the case, it does not mean that extra copies have not been made by either former residents, employees or even rogue tradesmen.
It is important for students and parents to question what locking systems are in place, when they were last replaced and how the copying of keys is kept under control.
Responsible landlords or universities should install quality locks with patented keys, which can’t be copied without proof of ownership, or restricted keys which can’t be easily copied due to their design. This protects against the risk of criminals who may be in possession of a copied key and can gain access to the property with no noticeable sign of entry, creating difficulty in claiming on the insurance.
It is landlords’ duty to act in a responsible manner by rightfully positioning the safety of their tenants at the top of their agenda. With the following advice, the Master Locksmiths Association hopes to ease the concerns of parents and students alike and ensure university is the best experience possible:
Walk around the exterior of the property making sure to note any areas of potential weakness and discuss any issues with a landlord – after all you are paying them a lot of money every month. Inspect locks on doors and windows are appropriate, in good condition and meet the requirements of insurance.
Be sure to keep valuable items out of sight, away from doors or windows.
Consider taking full details of any valuables you have and for electronic items make a note of the serial number and consider identity marking them.
Put an end to any bad habits. For instance don’t leave your keys in the door or in view, set alarm codes and lock any doors, windows and side gates, and remember to use all the locks, including individual room locks and front doors.
A large proportion of student theft is down to “walk in”, gaining access through open doors so be vigilant and don’t forget that simply closing a door doesn’t necessarily mean it’s locked.
Avoid the temptation to hide a key under the doormat or flower pot, criminals are very aware of the method, particularly in student areas and will often check in the first instance, giving them unrestricted access to your property and possessions.
Be aware also of any “tailgating” where people can enter a front door with or immediately after you.
Ensure the property is in line with Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) regulations which apply to homes with at least three tenants who share the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.
And finally, take note of the number of your nearest MLA licensed locksmith by visiting www.locksmiths.co.uk or store the MLA’s freephone number, tel: 0800 783 1498 in your mobile phone.
Such security tips may seem like common sense, however with the amount of activity during the first weeks of term it is easy for an issue like security to slip to the back of your mind.
Dr Steffan George is development director of the Master Locksmiths Association. www.locksmiths.co.uk