When you are out and about having fun, you should always be aware that not everyone else is there for enjoyment. Opportunist thieves and pickpockets operate at nightclubs, bars, pubs, beaches, tourist attractions, gig venues, supermarkets and even in the university library. Sometimes thieves are “career” pick pockets who know all of the tricks of the trade, whilst others are people who just spot an opportunity to make money fast. It is therefore down to you to take steps to protect yourself as much as possible.
Don’t leave your belongings unattended
It should go without saying that you should never let your belongings out of sight, even just for a few moments. Whether you are at a bar, the beach, or wherever you may be, you should keep your valuables with you, or under the eyes of a trusted friend. Even the library can provide rich pickings for opportunist thieves, who can take phones or other valuables which have been left on desks whilst their owners pop off to search for a book.
Don’t advertise your valuables
Even if you are waiting for an important text, you should avoid sitting with your phone on the table, especially if you are eating outside. Anyone who is passing by will see what phone you have, and this could encourage them to target you later. Likewise, don’t get all of your money out to count, every time you go to make a payment for something, as this will help thieves to work out whether you would be a worthwhile target or not.
Secure your bag
If you are sitting down anywhere, keep your bag in sight and reach. If you are in a busy environment like a café, loop one of the handles or straps underneath your chair, so that the bag cannot just be snatched. Never sit it on an adjacent chair, because this means that it will be out of your reach, but it will be at the perfect height for anyone running by to grab. If your bag has a zip, keep the zip closed. If it has double zips, you can even lock them with a tiny padlock. Although it will not make your bag completely impenetrable if someone is desperate to get in, it makes your bag look less like an open invite.
Whilst you don’t need to become overly tense or paranoid, keeping a healthy awareness of yourself and your surroundings will help you to stay safe. Know the places that pickpockets are likely to strike, and stay vigilant whilst you are there. For example, pickpockets often strike at the bar, because people may be distracted, and they will likely have just revealed the location of their purse or wallet.
Using the Cash Point
Only take out the money that you will need, especially if the cash machine is free to use. Choose cash machines in well lit areas, and be aware of who is around you as you withdraw money. If the bank machine does anything out of the ordinary, contact the bank immediately, as card cloning and other crime can happen at these machines. Once you have taken the money out, put it somewhere safe and secure as soon as possible.
Living in halls
Lock your room door every time that you leave your room, even if you are only visiting the toilet or the kitchen. Opportunistic thieves often enter halls and try random doors. If there is someone inside, they can pass this off as an innocent mistake, and they may get away with it, because there are so many unknown faces at university.