Be vigilant! Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd calls on students to ‘cut burglaries in half’

By Paddy von Behr

Burglary at student properties can easily be cut in half, according to the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.

A GMP initiative, Operation Storm, is aimed at preventing students from being targeted by criminals, by taking preventative action.

And Commissioner Lloyd, attending a student safety day of action, gave the operation his full backing.

He told MM: “Probably half of the theft of student property that takes place is easily preventable with a little bit of care and caution.

“Better that we stop crime happening, rather than solve crime afterwards.”

Each year 80,000 students descend on Manchester, many of which are yet to experience life in a big city.

Commissioner Lloyd, whose daughter is one of these students, believes they simply need clear and useful advice on arrival.

He said: “Be cautious, be careful, don’t be frightened – this isn’t a frightening city – but do the basics right and you can look after yourselves and your property.”

The operation is currently in phase three of four and results are looking positive – figures for phases one and two showed an annual 22% reduction in burglaries.

Police are issuing warnings and advice to students about how to keep their properties safe and, in some cases, using memorable tricks to do so.

Officers who are able to enter a property with ease will leave a balloon in the living room to give the tenants a much-needed shock.

Police Sergeant Roberts, who is in charge of student safety, believes it is easy to deter burglars on the lookout for targets.

He said: “Give the criminal as much to think about as to reasons why he doesn’t want to enter your property rather than reasons why he might want to.

“If he’s climbing over a six-foot wall and a light comes on, your windows are shut and you’ve got locks on your door, he might think ‘this house is secure’ and move away from the area.”

Stewart Morton, 23, a student from Fallowfield, told MM he and his peers are fully aware of the problem of opportunist burglars.

“Some streets in areas like Fallowfield are known to be student-populated,” he said.

“So people can literally go along just looking for doors open or windows open for an opportunity.”

He has tracking software on his phone and laptop, which police are strongly encouraging, and believes such technology is common among students.

And, while his friends are vigilant to burglars, they know one lapse in concentration can see their most valued possessions snatched.

“Enough of my friends have been burgled to make you cautious,” he added.

“It’s quite commonplace, to the extent that it gets joked about, but when you think about it, it’s actually quite worrying.”

Matthew Coombe-Jones, 21, lives in a student property in Withington and has been burgled since moving to Manchester.

He is well aware of the issue and takes steps to tackle it but, given his experiences, is skeptical of GMP’s message.

“We were pretty vigilant about the whole situation from day one.

“It was just this one time when we had all finished exams and were all in a good mood and not really focusing on not getting burgled.

“I don’t think any sort of precautions would have stopped it from happening.”

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