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Student Stories to Hit Home Burglary Message

December 6, 2012, 2:54 pm

Student burglary victims in Leeds have spoken about their experiences on film as part of a campaign to encourage their peers to tighten up their security in the run-up the Christmas.

West Yorkshire Police and the citys community safety partnership Safer Leeds are working alongside student safety website to highlight how simple crime prevention measures can save students from becoming victims of burglary.

Areas with high student populations, such as Woodhouse, Hyde Park and Headingley, have been some of the worst for burglary primarily because thieves know student houses are likely to contain multiple laptops, smartphones and other portable gadgets.

Another key theme in student burglaries is that a high proportion involve lax security such as unlocked doors and windows.

The ongoing crackdown on burglary across Leeds has seen dramatic reductions in the number of offences, particularly in student areas, but it is still felt that more could be achieved by getting home security messages across to students. Students heading home for the Christmas holidays are also being reminded to take valuables with them and leave their term-time accommodation secure.

As part of the ongoing ‘It only takes a minute burglary awareness campaign, two films have been produced showing the impact that recent burglaries have had on students in Leeds. These are being broadcast on the West Yorkshire Police (see below) and Knowledge websites, YouTube and promoted on Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness.

One film features Jo Doyle, who was a second year Linguistics and Phonetics student at the University of Leeds, when thieves broke into the student house she shared with eight others while she was out at party.

Her biggest regret was that she hadnt locked her room as some of her housemates had locked theirs and were not targeted. She lost her laptop, iPod and a purse that had sentimental value as it had been and 18th birthday present.

She admits the experience has made her more security conscious and that she always double checks that locks are on and always sets the alarm.

The other film features three housemates, Cecily Tapp, Holly Richards, and Holly Domellof, who are all students at the University of Leeds.

They lost cash, cameras, iPods and irreplaceable jewellery when thieves broke into their house.

They had an alarm but had not switched it on, which police later told them would have deterred the burglars if it had been set to go off.

They got their landlord to install better locks and add other security measures and now always set the alarm when their out.

Chief Superintendent Dave Oldroyd, who is the lead officer for the district on burglary, said: “These stories really hit home how upsetting it is to be a victim of burglary. We are very grateful to these students for talking about their experiences on camera to help us encourage others to take home security seriously.

“We hope that hearing direct from fellow students themselves about the impact these offences had on them will encourage their peers to take note and do all they can to avoid becoming a victim.

“At the same time we will continue to focus our attention on reducing the number of burglaries in the city even further by prioritising the areas most at risk and relentlessly targeting the offenders who are behind these crimes.

“We have had some real successes recently that have seen organised gangs of burglars sent to prison for lengthy periods. That work is continuing and we remain firmly committed to doing all we can reduce the number of burglaries in the city.”

This increased focus on burglary has seen the number of offences in the Leeds district reduced by 36.2 per cent to 5,778 in the 12 months to the end of October – 3,273 fewer offences.

Among the tactics currently being used is an initiative, dubbed Project Optimal, where intelligence analysts study crime patterns to predict where burglaries will occur so officers can target those areas with patrols while tightening up security at homes near to those that have recently been burgled.

Other ground-breaking work to tackle burglary includes the use of hi-tech handheld scanners that give officers the ability to check recovered property, such as mobile phones and laptops, and immediately identify if an item is stolen. As part of this initiative a campaign has been running to encourage students to register their property on national property database

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