Crime is always a bit of a heavy topic for students – we’ve got so much going on with study, hobbies and social activities that we don’t have a lot of time to worry about being robbed. No one likes to feel vulnerable, especially when they’re living in a new place with new people, a train ride away from home. Sadly, we are easy targets: 30% of students fall victim to crime at uni according to a 2008 survey, with those figures increasing year on year. The most common crime committed against students is theft.

We’ve all heard these statistics or something similar before, and most of us are tired of hearing them. You can’t help being robbed, right? Wrong. Thieves target us because we make it easy for them; the secret is that you don’t have to crime-proof your house. Thieves are people too, and they don’t want to rob people who make it difficult or risky for them.

If you live in university accommodation, then part of the job has already been done for you. Porters and staff will usually be monitoring people who enter the complex or building, and if you’re not on the ground floor access to your room will most likely be a problem too thorny for your average stripy convict. If you live in university accommodation that is unstaffed, or has few residents, then your best precaution is to get to know everyone in your building. If you see someone you don’t recognise, find out what their deal is – it may seem a little imperious, but at the end of the day it’s your house. If you live on the ground floor, keep your windows closed when you’re not around and take your valuables home with you for the holidays.

All of these rules apply to shared houses too. You’ll probably be surprised how much neighbours are willing to help each other out, even if the guy next door does look like a real Grinch. Bikes are often at risk in student houses, and the best protection is an alarmed chain. Bolt cutters and angle grinders can make short work of the most intricate locks, but if something makes a big noise when it’s disturbed, burglars won’t touch it. Leaving lights, televisions and radios on while you’re out is also a popular precaution.

Above all, don’t be paranoid. You don’t need to panic about crime-proofing; all it takes is a little wisdom and forethought. Crime doesn’t pay, but preparation does.