Protecting Young Adults From Theft in College

As much as people like to think that it will never happen to them, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that theft is a real threat that can affect anyone. Closed-in environments, like college housing units and apartment complexes, are often especially targeted by thieves. In fact, 30,000 or more burglaries related to college students and campuses are reported each year (ED.Gov Summary Crime Statistics for Criminal Acts 2007-09). However, there are certain measures one can take to ensure peace of mind about personal belongings staying safe.

While it seems like a common sense practice to lock doors, many young adults and college students do not always feel the need to do so. Living in an environment surrounded by one’s peers might provide a false sense of security. It is essential that doors get locked any and all times a resident leaves their dorm or apartment. If living on the first floor of a dorm building or apartment complex, it is also necessary to keep windows closed and locked when no one is home. It takes just a few seconds, but can mean the difference between coming home to a laptop, television, and gaming system, or coming home to an empty room.

In college, it is inevitable that students will have some expensive equipment with them. A laptop is essential, and there are often many other items, like cameras, televisions, and iPods, that would be costly to replace. While students cannot avoid having their expensive items in their living spaces, they can avoid what they broadcast about them. It is not wise to advertise how expensive valuables are, or how a new state-of-the-art gaming system was just purchased. These are red flags for thieves, which is risky because it is often other students who steal. It is important to always be smart about what is said to whom.

Along those same lines, valuables should not be left out in the open. Before leaving an apartment or dorm, expensive items should be stored out of plain site. In addition to electronics, students often have important documents such as their birth certificates, social security cards, and bank statements. If these are stolen, it can have disastrous consequences. People in the 18 to 24 age range are the most at risk for identity theft, and it takes them longer to realize that they have been defrauded (James Van Dyke, president of Javelin Strategy & Research). To avoid this, students should purchase a lockbox, preferably a fireproof one, in which to keep important documents secure. For added protection, a bike lock can be used to chain it to a bed or shelf. In addition, of course, bikes themselves should always be chained.

In the unfortunate event that a student does become a victim of theft, having a list of electronics’ serial numbers can be valuable to have. This can often help the odds of getting stolen items back, as it will give police a definitive description to look for in recovered stolen goods.

With the high risk of theft that young adults and college students face, renters insurance is an option that may be worth exploring. There are many affordable plans available, and in the event of theft, items like electronics, school supplies, furniture, and clothes are often covered. In addition to this protection, many plans also include coverage for cases of identity theft. The Spring 2012 Student Monitor Financial Services Survey reported that 24% of respondents were victims or had friends who were victims of personal property loss, and 9% of respondents were victims or had friends who were victims of identity theft. Property coverage is also an important part of renters insurance, as it can cover the cost of replacing personal belongings in the events of fires, floods, or natural disasters. Damage resulting from such incidents can put residents at fault, but renters insurance with personal liability coverage can cover those associated costs as well.

To see a brief overview of the value of renters insurance for young adults and college students, refer to this video from GradGuard.

To learn more about the risks young adults and students may face, please visit our blog. If you have questions about insurance, check out our FAQs and glossary for more information.