Phones, robbery and personal safety

Robbery is rare in Selly Oak and on campus, but don’t take chances –  In general try not to display your stuff, which can be an adverstisement to thieves and try to avoid walking around late at night, particularly by yourself.

Keeping your personable valuables safe

Mobile Phones:

  • If you’re using the phone on a call, texting or playing a game, as well as putting it on display you are also less aware of your surroundings; this can leave you vulnerable to thieves and it is incredibly easy to snatch a phone from out of someone’s hands.
  • Try not to walk with headphones in
  • If someone you don’t know asks you the time when you’re out and about, particularly at night don’t get your phone out to tell them.
  • Switch on the tracker.  Most phones now come with some form of tracking software which if your phone is lost or stolen can 1) help the Police track it and the thief down and 2) recover your phone.  Google your manufacturers’ websites to find out how to activate yours if you have an iPhone or Samsung go to Apple, and Samsung

Laptops/ipads and tablets/notebooks:

  • Carrying a laptop in a laptop bag can be an advertisement of what you are carrying to potential thieves. Instead of using a laptop bag carry it in another style of bag to hide the shape. If you have a laptop bag thats a rucksack – wear it with both carrying straps – its easier to snatch if only over one shoulder.
  • Definately do not use your laptop/tablet on the move in public places.  Unfortunately there are too many examples of students walking home late at night watching films or other items on their tablets with inevitable results….
  • Consider purchasing or downloading software to back up what you have stored on the device and to track if it is ever stolen or lost.  We recommended Lo-Jack, which has already ben issued to hundreds of student laptops by the Guild and Police in the last couple of years.


  • If you have an iPod avoid using the white earphones as this is, again, advertising what you have – black standard earpones may not be as sexy, but they also don’t advertise an expensive mp3/mp4 player to potential thieves.


  • Avoid using ATM’s at night, but if you have to use one try use ones in open public and well-lit places (e.g. Tesco Express) to go with friends and if you see anyone suspicious don’t withdraw any money. After taking money out put this away in a secure pocket (such as a zipped pocket) and be aware of who is around you.
  • Personal safety alarms are available from you West Midlands Police (look out for stands; e-mail the Selly Oak team or University Officer on campus) and through the Community Warden scheme at the Guild of Students.
  • Statistically males are more likely to be assaulted, mostly due to bigger risk taking and less attention to personal safety.  So boys please do not think it isn’t macho to carry a personal safety alarm yourself and try to take more consideration of your personal safety – you are not invincible!
  • When carrying bags, try to have the opening facing in to your body – this makes it harder for someone to grab something from inside your bag.

When out walking

  • Avoid walking home after a night out, especially all the way from the City Centre!  Try and stay in a group as much as possible; avoid dimly lit areas and short cuts.  The most frequent time and circumstances that robberies take place in the area are from 1/2am and later with students walking back from nights out.
  • Whether day or night, know your surroundings and your route home and avoid stopping to look at a map on your phone and questionable short-cuts.
  • Avoid using empty subways in the City Centre by yourself particularly if you don’t know it, they are long, or you cannot see all the way through it.
  • Walk with confidence, don’t advertise youself as a potential victim.
  • If you ever feel that you are being followed, initially try crossing over the road. If they cross with you try to make towards a busy public area and then ask for help.

When travelling by public transport

Remember when using a taxi – you are only insured if you have phoned and booked the taxi (i.e. a private hire vehicle), or if the taxi is an old style hackney ‘black cab’. You can only flag down ‘black cabs’. Contact the Guild of Students for contact details of local private hire companies – the Guild operates an Accredited Taxi Scheme where your student ID card can be used initially in lieu of payment if you do not have money for the fare, but need to get home safely.

Remember when travelling by bus – sit close to the driver where possible or in view of the CCTV if present, and avoid sitting upstairs if you are by yourself. Check service times  before leaving to avoid waiting at bus-stops for long periods. National Express West Midlands also have an M-ticket app – no more searching for change or waiting in line

If travelling by train – choose to sit in a carriage with and near to other people.