29th November 2014

Post-burglary Blues

With some statistics showing that Manchester has the highest student burglary rate in England, Robert Firth talks to one student who had more than the usual fright on Halloween

Trying to find someone who doesn’t know a student who has been burgled in Manchester is an almost impossible task. Since the beginning of September five of my friends alone have had items stolen from their houses and with every story you begin to count down each finger on your hands, until you become the next victim.

You’re not paranoid to do so either. 1 in 10 crimes in Manchester are against students, according to the police. Manchester has the worst student burglary rate in England according to figures published by The Complete University Guide: 12.77 burglaries per 1000 residents in May 2013 – April 2014, for residents living in three miles of the University of Manchester. It’s an unfortunate reality that for many of us at university, burglary is as much a part of everyday life as late buses and tiredness.

As expected, the targets of most burglaries are laptops and smartphones, something that was seized upon by GMP’s student safety initiative this year which claimed that the average student household has £5000 to £10000 worth of high-tech items. Whilst most will be in envy of the occupants of this average student household, it corresponds that without fail every person who’s burgled has had their own laptop taken.

Charlotte Mason, a second year languages student explained to me how four laptops were stolen when they were burgled on Halloween “through the smallest window imaginable,” which was shut but not locked. For most students, it’s not the loss of property or even the inconvenience that burglaries cause them which distresses them the most but the idea that a stranger has been in their home. Charlotte commented that being burgled has made her household “much more conscious of the area, we will never leave a window open again. I know that it [burglary] was an issue, but I’ve never considered that it would happen to me.”

According to Greater Manchester Police, 1 in 3 burglaries are the result of an open or unlocked door/window. As well as the student safety initiative, this year the police also launched Project Ark, which aims to reduce burglary in the student hotspots of Fallowfield, Withington, and Ladybarn.

Being a victim of burglary has made Charlotte much more aware of her house’s safety: “If you think a window is too small to get through, you are wrong—these people find ways. Be conscious of every window and door, making sure it’s locked.”

Whilst every little helps, it’s unlikely burglary is just going to vanish from the Fallowfield area because of a few extra police patrols and locked windows. Charlotte herself knew of four other people who had been burgled before the Halloween incident. As long as students have laptops and laptops cost so much, thieves will target them. It’s just a pity they don’t realise non students also have smartphones and laptops, but then again they probably have burglar alarms too.

 Advice on keeping your property safe:

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