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28 October 2014

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An invitation for an opportunist thief

Crime in colleges, crime on campus

Ed Bolton for CUR1350
Cambridge has the 3rd highest rate of cycle theft in the country. Students are also burgled. How can you avoid becoming a victim of petty crime?

First it's worth putting some perspective on the issue. Anglia Ruskin student president Frankie Whiffen stresses that "in comparison to a lot of places, Cambridge is a very safe place to be". As a student rep, he regularly meets with the City Council to discuss "things like CCTV and lighting".

Their work gives you low odds of being attacked on the streets. In fact, should you ever feel threatened, you can get the attention of local CCTV operatives by texting 62288 with your location. They'll keep an eye on you until the police arrive.

Bike locked to itself
Always lock bikes to secure objects

So far, so good. The problem is, the more secure people feel, the more likely they are to get complacent. The Cambridgeshire Police website says that "in two out of 10 burglaries, thieves don't even have to use force". That means people, often students, are literally opening their doors for criminals.

Crime reduction officer Hilary Conner says "young people have more pressing engagements than thinking about their security". In the city's historic colleges, students "don't see that it's accessible for anyone in society to just walk in". This results in the absurd situation of students saying hello to burglars in corridors.

The good news is that it's easy to put a stop to it. Lynda Kilkelly works on community safety for the council. Her simple advice for students would be "lock your windows and doors and put valuables like laptops out of sight. Use a good quality lock on your bike and secure it to a fixed object".

Should the worst happen, is there any hope of getting your valuables back? That really depends. If you've registered your valuables with Immobilise (see link on right hand side), then the answer is yes. It's a free searchable database the police use when they recover stolen goods.

In the mean time there's the small matter of preventing crime through education. Hilary Conner says the police have "a designated officer that goes into colleges and ARU on a regular basis". So how do you avoid becoming a victim of petty crime? She says "it's just common sense really".

last updated: 21/05/07
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