Protecting Your Valuables on a College Campus

This guest post comes from John Spiropoulos, B.A., a 3 time Emmy award winning TV news reporter whose website — — is devoted to the success of college freshmen.
Right now parents and students are focused on what to take to college. Now is also the time to think about what you want to keep in college, because without taking proper precautions, your valuables may be stolen. Here’s what to do:
Lock Your Room Doors in the Residence Hall
Break-ins are rare. Usually, items are stolen because doors are left open or unlocked. Unless your roommate is in the room, ALWAYS lock the door when you leave, even if it’s just going down the hall to the bathroom.
What Gets Stolen From Rooms?
Easy-to-grab items: Laptop computers, cameras, rings, wallets, credit cards, and checkbooks. If a thief sees something on a desk or bed and no one is around, it’s gone. Don’t leave valuable items lying around.
Computer Security
Don’t let your computer out of your sight, especially laptops. But when you do, make sure they’re under lock-down. Here are three websites that offer various types of locks for laptops, desktops and monitors. Shop the web for the best price.


Pedaling the Loot
Bicycles may be the #1 target of campus thieves. So, don’t guard a $500 bike with a $5 lock. Security experts recommend U-bolt bicycle locks with case-hardened steel and a barrel-type lock. Note: during semester or holiday breaks, consider storing the bicycle in your room, if school policy allows.
The Case of the Missing Textbooks
Believe it or not, books are stolen for resale to bookstores. It’s a financial loss but it can also hurt grades because students need the books to study, especially notes they made in the book. Campus police suggest marking books (circle a page number, for example) so they can be identified. Report thefts to the campus police who will notify the bookstores.
Easy to Grab and Go
Bookstores and other shops sometimes require students to put backpacks, books and briefcases on unguarded shelves at the front of the store. That makes it easy for the grab-and-go thief. So, have a friend stand guard, leave the items in a residence hall or secure them in low-cost public lockers, if they’re available. Don’t leave them alone anywhere. In a public bathroom, take the items into the stall with you.
For the Record…
Keep a list of serial numbers on valuables. Many campus police departments can also help you engrave the student’s name on computers, cameras and other items. Insurance agents and security experts also suggest you take a still photo of the item or videotape it. Most things that are stolen are taken to the nearest pawnshop. With a serial number police may be able to recover the item.
A Special Note about Musical Instruments
A leading supplier of instruments to professional and amateur musicians recommends against engraving names or anything else on the instrument. Instead, the company suggests keeping the original sales receipt and recording the serial number.
Parents should talk to their insurance agent about insuring certain valuables against loss or damage. In some cases, parents may want to consider an insurance policy “rider” which would provide an additional level of insurance. Note: just because something is insured is no reason to be careless.