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Friday, 5 October 2012

Protecting your belongings

If you've saved up or worked hard to be able to buy a computer or an MP3 player, make sure that no-one else can get their hands on it. By taking a few simple security steps, you can keep your belongings extra safe.

Property at home

Whether you're still living at home or you're at university, the chances are that you have a lot of expensive stuff in your bedroom. If you do get burgled, computers, stereos and TVs are not cheap to replace so it's important to do everything you can to protect them.

First off, get insured against theft. If you're at home, your parents' insurance policy will cover you, but if you live away from home you'll have to take out your own. Insurance companies often have special deals for students, so shop around for the best offer.

If you're going out and there's no-one else around, close and lock all the windows and doors. It may sound obvious, but it is tempting not to bother if you're just popping out for a few minutes.

If you are at university, take all your valuables home for the holidays. Student houses and halls of residence are more likely to be targeted out of term time as criminals know they will probably be empty. It might be a pain moving your belongings around all the time, but it's the best way to protect them.

Marking and registering your property

Marking your property with your postcode increases the chance of recovering it if you are the victim of a burglary. You can do this by using an ultra-violet (UV) marker pen. You won't be able to see the mark that you make unless you shine a UV light over it. You can get a pen from most hardware stores and they're not expensive.

Alternatively, your local police force may run an event at your school, college or university where they'll mark your property for free.

You can also register some of your more expensive items with the National Mobile Property Register. This is the database that the police use to match stolen goods with an owner.

You can register items like:

  • laptops
  • cameras
  • musical instruments
  • video games consoles

Once you’ve created an account, you can register as many items on the database as you want. Registration is completely free and the database lets you flag if any of your registered items have been stolen.

Carrying your belongings around

When you're out and about, there are a few things to remember that will reduce the chances of getting your things stolen.

It's a lot easier for a pickpocket to take your wallet or purse out of a back pocket, so always carry it in a front one. When you need to pay for something or use a cash machine, only take your wallet out when you need to and don't flash your cash about. This just lets criminals know you’re carrying something around that’s worth stealing.

If you're carrying a bag, try to have it around your front with your hand over the fastening. This makes it easier for you to tell if someone is attempting to snatch it.

Finally, if you like listening to music on the move, carry your MP3 player in an inside pocket and your headphone wires are hidden beneath your clothes.

Protecting your bike

Keep your bike safe in the same way as you would protect a car. Always lock it up when you leave it unattended.

Buy a strong and reliable lock that you can use to secure your bike to a fence, or remove a wheel whenever you park it. You can also mark the frame of your bike with an ultraviolet marker.

To increase the chances of recovering your bike if it is stolen:

  • mark it in a way that identifies you as the owner
  • ask the police for a recorded cycle form

Once you've filled in the form, the details will be added to a national database which can help match recovered bikes to their owners.

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