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Back to School Safety: Tips to Help Prevent Theft at College

It is that time of year again! Universities and Colleges across the United States are welcoming students to their campuses, some as seasoned veterans and others for the first time. Heading back to school can be an exhilarating yet chaotic time in the lives of young adults beginning this journey as well as for their parents. Between buying books, moving into a dorm room and meeting new people, theft is the last thing on student’s minds. However, it is important to know that according to the U.S. Department of Education College campuses reported approximately 14,000 burglaries in 2014. Crime is certainly present, but open conversation and some common sense guidelines can help! To keep the turbulence that burglary could cause in the lives of parents and young adults, here are some tips from Nationwide that will aid in keeping your property safe while away at school.

Residence Safety

Hopefully, as students become settled in their new living quarters, it will begin to feel like home. However it is important that they remain vigilant, as it is very easy for criminals to go unnoticed in variouscampus areas. Nationwide encourages your child to:

  • Get to know your Resident Assistant
  • Report lost or stolen keys immediately
  • Lock doors at all times, even if you are only stepping out for a moment
  • Lock doors while inside the room, especially while you are sleeping
  • Lock windows
  • Verify the unit has functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Keep all valuables out of sight and secure as possible
  • Do not keep large sums of cash on site and regularly inspect checkbooks for missing checks
  • Do not loan keys or have personal identifiers such as name and address on keys
  • Never hide a key outside of the room
  • Replace locks if keys are lost or stolen
  • Report suspicious activity and thefts to the campus safety department

Property Safety

Many of the items students bring to school can be extremely valuable; for example, laptops, iPhones, and televisions. Nationwide encourages your child to:

  • Never leave purses, back-packs or other valuable items unattended in common areas like the dining hall or the library
  • Use a high quality lock for bikes and make sure they are locked through the frame and the wheels. If possible, consider storing bikes inside of teir room
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times and valuables out of sight
  • Never leave a vehicle running and unattended
  • During long breaks, take valuables home
  • Keep a recorded list of valuables, including photos and detailed descriptions of each item
  • Use an engraver to mark items with their driver’s license number. This will aid with easy identification of the stolen item, especially if recovered by the police
  • Report suspicious activity and thefts to the campus safety department

Campus Safety Departments

Usually, colleges are considered private or state property and will have their own police or campus safety department to help prevent theft and protect students and faculty. Nationwide encourages your child to:

  • Know the location and phone number of the campus police and have it saved in their phone
  • Attend campus safety presentations
  • Learn about crime trends and be aware of all safety alerts
  • Obtain college safety brochures and learn what the campuses safety features are. Your child should know the steps to take before an emergency arises
  • Report suspicious activity and thefts to the campus safety department

While these tips will not guarantee a theft-free year, they can help to mitigate your risk and maintain a safe environment so both parents and students alike can have some peace of mind. If you would like additional resources please visit to find more Risk Solutions Series articles by Nationwide. We hope these tips are useful in having a productive and exciting year. Good luck students and welcome back to school!