During the Christmas holidays, when many students return to their family homes, term-time accommodation is left vacant and therefore susceptible to break-ins and theft.
The large student population of Fallowfield is a regular target for crime. Burglars usually steal whatever is easiest to carry. Therefore student essentials such as laptops, mobile phones, and bikes are commonly taken.
Detailed crime statistics for Fallowfield can be found on www.police.uk. The site states that between October 2016 and September 2017 there have been a total of 233 burglaries, 54 cases of bicycle theft, and 61 incidents of personal theft.
The Fallowfield Student Group is an online community where members regularly post warnings and personal experiences. In October, Architecture student Anna Meerson posted about a burglary that took place at her student home.In an interview with The Mancunion she described the events of that evening.
Anna and her housemates were at the pub when their neighbours called to say they had been burgled. Four men in balaclavas had climbed through a window and kicked doors down to take their valuables. Anna said, “laptops, bags, tablets, and a couple of other things were taken.” She continued that “no one was in the house, so we were all safe.”
Neuroscience student Jill Merlini lives with Anna and she added: “Getting home and seeing my whole room trashed, the door ripped off the hinges, and knowing that four strangers had been in there was the worst thing about it.”
For Jill, the loss of material possessions was not as disturbing as the aftermath of such a chaotic home invasion.
Anna, Jill, and their housemates were targeted because burglars saw their house was empty. Over Christmas, there will be many empty homes in Fallowfield. Some estate agents in the area offered their advice and guidance on safety and burglary prevention.
Jupiter Properties Manchester advises that “if anything is broken, students should tell their landlord to fix it before they leave.” They also said, “ don’t be advertising on social media that you will be away from your property. Modern criminals are very crafty.”
When asked if Christmas is a time when tenants are targeted they said: “Around Christmas time there is definitely a pattern where crime does increase. For their own peace of mind, students should make sure that they have their contents insured just in case something does happen in their absence.”
The staff at Jupiter Properties stress the importance of implementing basic safety measures. On www.police.uk it states that “homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures.”
It may sound obvious but locking windows and back gates can make a big difference. If your property has an alarm system it is important to test it. Burglary victim Anna said, “the alarms didn’t go off because they didn’t work.” Echoing the statement made by Jupiter Properties, if something is broken get your landlord to fix it. It is their obligation.
Anthony Waring, the branch manager of Homes4U, said they hand out letters to their tenants to make them aware of the possible crime that can happen over the holidays.
In an interview with The Mancunion he said, “I think one of the reasons why crime might seem higher in this area is because there is such a high volume of young people. They are not necessarily as thoughtful as older people in terms of leaving doors and windows open.”
He concluded, “we advise students not to leave anything on show and to close their curtains.”
In the run up to christmas Greater Manchester Police have been doing some gift giving. Personal alarms and 24 hour timer sockets have been offered to students on their doorsteps. This is an effort to help with student safety and the prevention of burglaries.
According to Greater Manchester Police, 24 hour segment timers are an essential asset to have when leaving your home vacant. The timers work by intermittently turning lights on and off when it gets dark. They are “well proven, low cost security devices” say Greater Manchester Police.
Making your home look occupied seems to be the best method of warding off potential criminals. The gmp.police.uk website features 60 second security videos that offer more advice and easy to follow steps to keep your home safe.