York police have launched an initiative to educate students about the dangers of leaving their properties insecure.
There has been a small rise over the past month in the number of burglaries and thefts from student houses and officers are keen to avoid any further incidents.
The crimes have largely been committed in the Heslington area, where the main University of York campus is located, and Fishergate which has a high population of student residents.
The crimes are affecting second and third year students who have left the secure university accommodation to move into their own rented houses.
Since 1 October 2011 there have been eight theft offences in the Heslington ward and nine thefts in Fishergate. Most of the thefts have involved bicycles which have been left out in rear yards.
Officers say that the number of alleyways in those areas make it easy for thieves to climb over walls un-noticed and are appealing to students to make life as difficult as possible for criminals.
Chief Inspector Dave Hannan, of York Safer Neighbourhood Command, warned students that leaving doors, windows and gates insecure is an invitation that criminals will not turn down.
Thieves are lazy and opportunistic, they like an easy ride. If you make life difficult for them they are much less likely to target your home and belongings.
If a thief sees an opportunity he will be in, so make sure you do everything you can to secure your property. Ensure the last one out locks the door, keep laptops, phones and MP3 players hidden from view and leave a light on when you go out at night.
Leave the television or radio on to give the impression someone is in, the cost of the electric will be far less than the cost of replacing stolen goods. It is also worth bearing in mind that it may be difficult to claim stolen items back through your insurance company if you leave your house unlocked.
The local Safer Neighbourhood Team, which covers Heslington and Fishergate, have been working hard to raise awareness at the University of York over the past few months, beginning with PCSOs giving crime prevention presentations during Freshers’ Week.
Officers have also been conducting high-visibility evening patrols and letters have been delivered to properties in the areas, urging people to take the necessary steps to protect their homes and belongings.
Despite the recent spike in thefts, Crime in the Heslington ward is down by 50% compared to this time last year, with theft offences alone dropping by 64%. Fishergate ward has also enjoyed a 16% reduction with theft down by 4%.
Chief Inspector Hannan urged all members of the public to join the fight against crime and take responsibility for protecting their own possessions.
I encourage all residents, not just students, to take home security seriously. By just taking a few simple crime prevention steps you can greatly reduce the chances of falling victim to theft.
Local officers are working hard to raise awareness of theft and house burglaries and I urge people to take their advice on board and ensure your home is properly protected from thieves.