By Bryan Kirby
Contributing Writer, ’16, Nursing
While most of us think about squeezing in naps between classes, studying, eating, or hanging out with friends, we need to take a few minutes to focus on protecting our hard-earned belongings from the crimes of theft and property damage. Whether you are a freshmen with just a few precious belongings to remind you of home, or a non-traditional student with a house and a collection of stuff, you value those items and want them protected. Here are a few simple techniques that will help keep your stuff where it belongs: with you.
The first step is to take pictures of all your stuff. If it is something very small like jewelry, or detailed like textbook titles, reserve a separate picture for these items. This gives campus security, local police, and your insurance company proof that the item was in your possession. If your camera or cell phone has the option, embed the date on the pictures. No one wants these pictures hogging up room on your camera or phone when you could be using the space to take more selfies. Instead, upload them to your computer and send them to yourself in an email. On the off chance that your computer is stolen along with everything in the pictures, or the dorm is catastrophically damaged due to fire or a Wizard of Oz sized tornado, you can download these pictures from anywhere with a web connection.
Second, take a few minutes to make a document with the make, model, description, and (most importantly) the serial number of everything you can. Pawn shops are now required to enter the item into a database. The database can easily be searched by the police to help locate items. If you give general descriptors, such as “It is a Macbook laptop,” or “It is a Playstation,” the chances of getting your item back will be small. However, if you say to the reporting officer, “It was a Playstation with the serial number of XYZ” then if it can be located on campus or in a pawn shop, and you will get your item back easier and faster. Email this document to yourself as well, just in case.
Another tip would be to engrave the last four digits of your social security number in inconspicuous places on your items, or have a jeweler engrave your name on your items. This will make it easier to distinguish your items from others.
If you suspect who might have taken your items, report them to campus security and the police. If you try to handle the situation on your own, you could get into a confrontation, get injured, compromise the investigation, or be in violation of the law. Your room is your sanctuary and should be protected. Be careful when having gatherings where strangers may be invited into your room. It’s more common for items to end up missing when you’re less careful. It is no one’s business what you have or where it is located, so do not share this information with others.
Finally, talk to your parents, spouse, or significant other to see if your family’s homeowners insurance covers your possessions while you are living on campus. A renter’s policy is a very affordable option to cover your things in the event of theft, fire, or storm damage.
Your items are your responsibility; remember to protect them.