Students heading off to university this autumn are being warned to take particular care of their possessions following indications that a huge number of them are likely to fall prey to thieves.
A study suggests that one in every four students is a victim during his or her time at university, and an estimated £25m-worth of stuff has been pinched over the past three years.
The digital age means that most students have a wealth of valuable items that prove attractive to thieves, including computers and mobile telephones.
But the research also finds that it’s not just the obvious high-value items that are going walkies – contact lenses, carpets and clocks are also amongst the things that are being stolen.
Student accommodation can provide rich pickings for thieves, although the study suggests that students at campus universities (as opposed to universities based in city centres) can rest more easily. About 80% of thefts take place at city-centre universities.
“Heading off to university is a daunting and exciting time [and] insurance is likely to be the last thing on any student’s mind as they prepare to embark on the next stage of their lives, without the safety net of their parents,” said Dan Simson, of Direct Line, which carried out the research.
“When even books often feel too expensive, should the worst happen, nobody wants to be paying a fortune to replace their stolen possessions. Insurance is a relatively small price to pay compared with the hassle and cost of buying a new phone or laptop.”
Mr Simson said taking some common-sense measures reduced the chances of becoming a theft victim at university, and he suggested investing in a proper bike lock, using timer switches on lights and radios, and keeping anything of any value away from windows.
He added that students living in houses should make sure their properties looked like other similar houses in the street.
“We all remember our time as students. Their first thought is never to keep their homes safe through uniformity with others on the street as they proudly line up their stolen traffic cones on the front lawn, or students’ union nightclub timetable centre pieces on the living-room wall,” he said.
But highlighting that a particular property is home to a bunch of students can help the burglars target their next victims.