University is meant to be the best time of your life, and it definitely is for most, if not all students. But with rising crime rates in so many major cities populated by students, its also becoming one of the scariest times of our lives too.
If you live in a busy city centre, densely occupied by students, you’re probably used to hearing about the latest burglary, attack, or other horrendous crime going off just streets away from your home. But if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty much desensitised to it now, and think ‘it won’t happen to me’ and simply get on with your life. Well, I used to think that until one of my close friends got burgled recently and suddenly my whole thought process changed.
I look back on my first year spent in halls, with all those big locked gates, security codes, access keys and 24/7 on site security, and miss not only the experience of halls, but the safety that came with it too. Now that I’m in second year, I’ve done what the majority of students do, by living in student housing with several other students, ten of us to be precise, yep, that’s right, TEN students under one roof. Now, I’d love it if all I had to worry about was the mess, or noise of ten students, but it isn’t. I’m constantly worried about locking every window and door, and double checking it many times before going up to bed, because I’m terrified of being burgled.
When did it become so dangerous to be a student? In Leeds, where there are five universities, 96 burglaries were reported to the police in January alone. Imagine how many more happened that weren’t reported! And its easy to see why. People think of students as constantly poor, but inside a student house there’s going to be at least one laptop and one TV per student, not to mention the GHD straighteners, games consoles and latest phones. A burglar could make a fortune off one student house, so its no wonder we’re such easy targets.
And we aren’t even making it difficult for them. A few weeks ago, my (very drunk) housemate came home after a night out and left the front door not only unlocked, but wide open, for a good few hours before someone else noticed the cold and came to lock it. Luckily, nothing happened. My friend that was a victim of a burglary? Left one of the windows open overnight. He lost his laptop and PS3 amongst loads of other stuff, and so did his housemates. Clearly we need to be more careful.
Saying that, I’ve seen a couple of girls on Facebook recently warning everyone in our area to be cautious in student housing as they were burgled but left no windows or doors unlocked. Should we really have to insure absolutely everything valuable we own? Surely we should be able to feel much safer and more secure in our own homes than that.
I know that my mum, probably alike to every other mum of a student, is terrified for me. She’s always reminding me to lock my bedroom door at night, even if I’m home, to hide anything valuable and check all the windows. She hates the fact that Im away from home in a busy city where crime rates are high. Up until this month I was having to get a taxi every night home from work at 7pm, for what would only be a 20 minute walk, just to put my mum’s (and in all honesty my own) mind at ease, knowing I’d be safe.
Just a couple of months ago my housemates took a shortcut home through the local park in the evening and were stopped by police, who told them that no-one is to walk through the park at night as there had been three attacks there that past week alone. What kind of place do we live in where it’s come to this?
In our house its become a running joke that it’s no longer ‘if’ we get burgled, its now ‘when’. We literally have accepted the fact that we will almost certainly be burgled during our time away from home in university accommodation, and that’s scary.
Ultimately, no matter how careful we are with the house’s security, being students living in a house together makes us easy, profitable targets for burglary. But we can’t spend all day all night worrying about it, so we simply need to try and do everything possible to prevent it, and just enjoy what time we have left at uni.
An English Literature student in Leeds. Normally found with a cup of tea in her hand, talking to her pet tortoise.