By Michael Wilson – News Editor
UCLan has been hit with a spate of burglaries over the past fortnight, with students being solely targeted.
With three separate incidents occurring in the past week alone, according to campus sources, students are very concerned about the safety of themselves and their belongings. Valuable belongings, including laptops and games consoles, have been taken in the incidents, and only one such item has been returned to its owner. This return was possible after police arrested one individual on suspicion of burglary, after campus security had assisted in tracking them down – inquiries are proceeding.
While the police continue their investigation, UCLan has decided to take proactive steps to stop future occurrences, and have issued guidance to students. In it, they urge all students living on the ground floor of halls to be more vigilant when it comes to the security of their rooms, and to close windows when students are not in their rooms. This failure to close windows is believed to be the main reason for the burglaries. The University has also asked students to watch out for their neighbours as well, and to report any suspicious activity. “The university are doing everything they can”, said a residence team official, “Things are being put in place in order to tackle the situation/issue. It’s certainly not being forgotten about”
Along with this guidance, the residences team has been attempting to remove any possibility for individuals to steal from halls. Security, in conjunction with the police, have increased their patrols and vigilance throughout university property, and the development and maintenance team have been tasked with exploring the introduction of permanent window restrictions; these would only allow the window to open to a certain length, ensuring that they are secure whilst are the same time allowing fresh air to come into the residences.
Also in consideration is anti-vandal paint being added to window sills, as well as the provision of SmartWater. SmartWater is a forensic liquid that assigns marked valuables with their own code that can be used to trace them back to owners. The police regularly check for SmartWater and actively raise awareness of it – this provides a deterrent to criminals and statistically this alone reduces the risk of being targeted by 74%. When a property that uses the security liquid is targeted, and the code is identified by police and used as evidence in court, there is a 100% conviction rate (with over 1000 convictions to date). UCLan has already used SmartWater in main campus buildings for some time, and wants to follow the example of Sheffield University in rolling it out to the residences as well.
UCLan SU is offering its full support to the university at this time. “It’s a concern to hear the amount of incidents that have happened over the past week”, said Campaigns Officer Lucy Haigh, “I’m glad the university are doing something in order to tackle it and I’ll be working with them closely to make sure the measures put in place are working for students.” The Campus Security team were contacted by Pluto, but refused to comment.
If you’ve got any concerns or notice any suspicious behaviour please contact Security on 01772 892068, or the Police on 101. If it is an emergency, call 999. Even if the incident has already happened, please contact security anyway, as it is important that efforts to prevent theft be coordinated.