More burglaries take place in Selly Oak than any other type of crime and due to the large student population in Bournbrook it is a reality that the area is one of the more targeted places for this type of crime across the region. There are two simple reasons for this 1) student homes contain a lot of potential valuable and portable items from cameras to laptops and mobile phones and 2) individually and collectively students simply do not do enough to look after their homes, making them an easy target.
Unlike a lot of other types of crime what you do and don’t do individually has the potential to impact on not only your own room and stuff, but your housemates, your neighbours and the rest of the street you live on. Leaving your bedroom window open is a portal to your room and the rest of your house, leaving your front or back door open or unlocked is a portal to all the rooms in the house and leaving the side gate open or unlocked is a portal to your entire row of houses.
The Selly Oak facts:
- Burglary has been generally falling over the last 5-10 years in the area due to a number of projects and initiatives to improve home and neighbourhood security, as well as to encourage students to take better care of their homes
- Despite the decreases Selly Oak still features every year in the region’s top five most “at risk” neighbourhoods for burglaries
- During the first term of every new student year there can be between 50 and 100 student victims of burglary, sometimes more
- The vast majority of burglaries happen as a result of open and unlocked windows, doors or gates. Around 85% of burglaries are as a direct result of this.
- The majority of burglaries are committed through the rear of the property.
- Laptops are taken in over a quarter of burglaries.
Try and stay informed so you can recognise and manage your own risks. There are plenty of options available, which can be found via Keep Informed you can also keep up to date via the Selly Oak Police Team Twitter.
What you can do:
There are lots of simple and obvious tips and advice you can consider but in general you can’t go too far wrong if you just “lock your windows, lock your doors and lock your gates” and tell your housemates and neighbours to do the same.
- Gates – when you move in identify which key is for the gate and then keep it locked. Don’t have a key? Contact your letting agent or landlord, or get a new one from Bournbrook Community Safety Project (0121 472 6671)
- Windows – if you are in the first floor rear bedroom and there is a flat roof outside it, keep your window locked, particularly when you are out of the house. It may seem innocuous but climbing through this particular window is an often used tactic by burglars in the area.
- Even when your’re in – keep the front and back doors locked, ground floor and rear first floor windows locked. Burglars can be in and out before you realise and more burglaries than you think can and do happen when people are in, even the whole house and friends.
- Bright idea – give the impression that you’re in, when you’re out by using a timer switch to switch on lights or even a TV or radio whilst you’re gone. Contact the Community Wardens or the Wednesday afternoon Police surgeries on campus in Living to get one for free!
- Got a burglar alarm? then use it, if you don’t have the code get it from your letting agent or landlord.
- Got a laptop safe? some houses in Selly Oak have been fitted with these to securely store laptops, other valuables and personal documents. If you’ve got one use it, if you don’t have the code contact your landlord.
- Get to know your neighbours – you can look out for them and they can look out for you. You will also have a better idea of who should and shouldn’t be milling around the back garden.
- House party? – try and keep tabs on who’s been invited and who should and shouldn’t be there. Keep your bedrooms locked and your valuables out of sight and secure.
- Strangers at the door – be aware of false callers and “distraction burglars”. These are fairly rare, but do still happen every year. Don’t be afraid to ask for ID or call your landlord/letting agent if someone is at your door claiming to be the window cleaner, gardener or repairs man for instance.
Just in case the worst does happen, you can also take steps to cover your stuff and increase the chances of getting it back:
- Lo Jack – tracking and back up software for your laptop. Hundreds of these have been issued to students in the last few years.
- Immobilise – register any of your property on the national property database. Particularly effective for electronic items to record their individual IMEI or serial numbers. Helping the Police to identify ownership of items not only increases the chances of you getting your stuff back but also arresting and charging the person(s) who may have been responsible for taking it.
- Be insured – there are lots of different policies available just for students.