Repeat of a nightmare: Students facing misery of burglary in Manchester again and again… and again

Exclusive by Richard O’Meara

Being burgled is a financial and emotional ordeal that many Mancunians unfortunately face at some point in their lives.

Yet Manchester students are suffering the ordeal not once but sometimes two or even three times while living in Manchester.

Police statistics obtained by MM show at least 186 people living in student areas fell victim to house thieves on two or more occasions since October 2008.

The stats which cover Fallowfield, Withington and student heavy sections of Didsbury and Rusholme also revealed that at least nine people were burgled a shocking three times or more.

Students are twice as likely to be burgled as other Manchester residents, with the number of thefts soaring during term time.

Joel Thompson, 21, has been burgled twice since he started at the University of Manchester

“The first time it happened was October 2011 when we were living in Fallowfield,” he said. “We were careless and left the window ajar when we went out.

“They got an Xbox, nearly 100 DVDs and games, the TV, even pairs of trainers.”

Inspector Andy Smith told MM that last year around half of student house break-ins were insecurity burglaries’, where an intruder gains access through an unlocked door or window. 

Mr Thompson however says the ruthless nature of the thieves also contributed to him becoming prey in consecutive years.

He said: “The second occasion when we were in Withington they basically just used brute force; disabled the alarm, kicked the locked door in and got out with as much stuff as possible while we were out.

“This time was worse; they got the TV again, my friend’s new bike, a couple of laptops. We were so gutted and felt like idiots for letting it happen twice.

Mr. Thompson advised: “Don’t give these people a chance to do it to you; it’s not a nice feeling. I just hope nothing goes wrong again this year.”

Specific properties in these areas also seem to be repeat targets for crooks. More than 597 individual homes had been burgled twice or more in the same five-year period.

Of these, 178 properties have been broken into on at least three occasions.

Manchester City Council says that more than 1,000 student houses were burgled in the last year – around three a day.

Having only been in his Clifton Avenue, Fallowfield, home for three weeks, second year MMU student Chris Sunderland, 20, has already fallen victim to opportunistic house thieves.

Mr Sunderland said: “We were all out for fresher’s week and made sure we locked up, but they managed to get in through the back door and take my friend’s laptop from his room.”

With so many individual properties burgled repeatedly some of the responsibility may also lie with landlords.

“We still haven’t been given keys for our bedroom doors and the alarm doesn’t work, so they were able to get in and out quickly with only one lock to deal with,” said Mr Sunderland.

Estate Agents JP and Brimelow, who have offices in the areas the statistics cover, say not all their rental properties have alarms, and that they don’t usually list whether they do or not on their website.

Jordan’s Letting Agency, who have a prominent location in Fallowfield, also said not all their lettings were fitted with alarms.

Manchester Student Homes, jointly owned by the city’s Universities, is telling student to ‘use their bargaining powers’ to make sure the property is properly secured by their landlord or letting agent.

The council meanwhile has this year warned students to keep doors and windows locked, whether there are people in the house or not and even in hot weather.

They also advise not to draw attention to the house being empty and to stash valuables carefully when leaving.

The GMP’s guide to student safety can be found here

Students can join the Manchester Student Safety group on Facebook at and follow @GMPFallowfield, @GMPWithington and @GMPDidsbury on Twitter.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook. 

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