Keeping Your Possessions Safe in College 

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife

Antoine Dodson would have no problems staying safe in a dormitory. He learned his lesson when someone broke into his house and tried to assault his sister. Now he's a cautious kind of guy. And you should be like him when you move into your dorm room, where you're not only surrounded by strangers, but you're living in the same space as one. Now, we're not saying that you shouldn't trust Kelly, the mass communications major from Boston. Just be careful.

1. Lock it up

Keep all of your valuables hidden away in a secure place, even in your dorm room or apartment. If you love it, make sure it's out of sight and locked away. Same with your car. If you leave your iPod or GPS in there, keep it locked in the trunk or a compartment so no one will be tempted to break into your vehicle.

Always lock the door to your dorm room or apartment, even if you're just stepping away for a few minutes, and don't leave a hide-a-key anywhere; it makes for easy break-ins.

If you have a bike, either take it inside when you're not using it or lock it securely to a bike rack with a heavy duty U-lock. Chain locks can get cut pretty easily.

When you leave for the holidays or a long weekend, lock up your valuables or take them with you. (And unplug your power strips and electronic stuff. Every college will tell you this, we promise.)

2. Leave your mark

For expensive items like computers, iPods, and the like, get them engraved if you can. Tracing and recovering stolen property is easier this way, and you can often get the engraving done through your college.

Put your name or a distinguishing number or mark in the front of your books. This way if someone steals it or forgets to return a borrowed book, you can identify it.

3. Grab when you go

Don't leave anything laying around, not backpacks, jackets, keys, computers, or books. Pick it up and take it with you when you're in the library, classroom, gym, outside, or anywhere else that is not your home.

4. Hideaway

You know all that important stuff like credit cards, bank statements, PIN numbers, usernames, and passwords? These are all really important things to know, and you need to keep them safe, too. Keep all of that stuff together, out of sight, and locked up if you can. This will save you from a big headache and will help protect your money and your identity.

5. Make a list, check it twice

Jot down a list of all of your personal property and note serial numbers and descriptions. This is helpful for two reasons. At the end of the year, you can check the list and make sure you have everything and that your friend down the hall doesn't still have your Kindle or something else important to you. Also, if something is stolen, the police have a lead to help them find your items.

And from me, a recent college grad, here are a few other suggestions:

1. Back, back, back it up

You've got lots of awesome and important stuff on your computer. Do yourself a favor: Get an external hard drive and back up your files a couple of times a semester. This way, if your computer crashes, you have all of your files and you won't lose much of anything. This is a very important tip.

2. Password please

Password protect your computers, phones, and iPods. Not only will this protect your information if your stuff is stolen, but none of your friends can log onto your Facebook account and do something stupid.

3. Take a closer look

If you're like me, you'll want to get out of the dorm immediately after freshman year. So, before you rush off and sign a lease, check the safety of the properties and neighborhoods where you're looking to rent. And see how close the place is to school and anywhere else you frequently go, and take note of the safest routes to get where you're going.

College Student Guide 2011

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