As your child heads off to college this autumn, you want to do everything you can to keep him or her safe. And, you don't want your child to fall victim to having equipment or electronics stolen.
Unfortunately, stealing happens regularly in college residence halls--averaging more than 11,000 incidents each year.
Beyond just taking things, an opportunistic thief can use the access to a student's room to steal passwords and other information that can lead to cybercrime and identity theft. In some cases, information that is available in a student's personal things can even make parents vulnerable to having accounts hacked or money stolen online.
So before you set foot on campus, talk to your son or daughter about the importance of good security. Here are three important things you can do to help your child stay safe.
1. Tell them to lock the door.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? But 40 percent of college students don't lock their residence hall doors when they leave the room.
Come midday, when most students are in class, the residence halls are nearly deserted. Even if there is front door security, a person who lives elsewhere in the same hall can easily move from room to room, helping themselves to whatever they'd like by simply opening unlocked room doors.
It's common for students to post their schedules on the door so friends can know where they are. Tell your child that this is not a safe practice as it allows others to know when the room will be vacant.
2. Provide a way for valuables to be locked up inside the room.
Even if your child is diligent to keep the door locked, a roommate might not be. Purchase a fireproof safe or lockbox for your child to keep electronics, personal papers and jewelry in when they are not being used or worn.
Make sure this safe or lockbox is large enough to store a laptop; while your child will likely be carrying his or hers with them to class many days, there will be times when it won't go along. A laptop is one of the most valuable and important tools that a college student owns; it's also easy to steal. Plus, a laptop often has information like bank account numbers, passwords and other sensitive information.
It's also a good idea to keep most valuable items out of sight. Sometimes other residents can see into the room or may be there at the invitation of your child or his or her roommate. If valuables are out in plain sight, it's a tempting invitation to come back and commit a burglary.
3. Invest in a college dorm room security system.
It's not as far-fetched as it sounds. As campus crime increases, the demand for ways to stay secure jumps up, too.
Security alarm equipment can be purchased to work on the dorm room door. Sometimes college housing departments suggest these should not be used because it makes it difficult for college personnel to gain access to the room in an emergency. Make sure that you have any codes on file for additional locks or alarms that you install, as this is often a minimum requirement.
Other security equipment you can purchase includes:
- Door stop for when you are in the room. This keeps potential intruders from easily getting in while residents are asleep. These come with and without alarms.
- Window alarms. These sound when someone tries to get inside a window. This is especially needed for rooms on the ground floor or right next to a fire escape.
- Anti-theft locks for chaining up laptops in or out of the dorm room.
If you have questions about other dorm room safety measures or security alarm equipment, talk to your security system installation company. They can order security alarm equipment for you and advise you as to the brands and types that work most effectively.