Tips for a Safe Off-Campus House

door lock

Work with your roommates and neighbors to keep your off-campus house safe this year. Always remember to lock your door, and review these tips to protect your home and your belongings.

  • You have the right to ask your landlord to change or re-key the locks to your unit before you move in. You never know who may still have a key.
  • Have a peephole installed in your front door. Check to see who is at the door before answering, especially when home alone.
  • Keep windows and doors secured with adequate locks at all times. If a lock in your residence is broken, contact the landlord immediately.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with a safety bar, which can be placed in the door track to prevent the door from being forced open.
  • Don’t place your full name on the mailbox or apartment directory; use first and middle initials instead.
  • Never hide an extra key under a mat, in a flowerpot, or any other easily accessible place – criminals know all the hiding places. Instead, give your key to trusted neighbors.
  • Close your curtains or blinds at night to prevent strangers from seeing that you are alone.
  • Trim trees and bushes near your home’s entrances to maximize visibility.
  • Maintain good lighting at all entrances and keep porch lights on at night.
  • Keep a list of your valuable property in case anything is stolen from your house or apartment. Include the make, model, serial number and date of purchase of each item.
  • Develop a “buddy” system with your neighbors. Be alert for suspicious-looking strangers, sounds, or actions in the hallways and notify the police at once.
  • If you live in an apartment building, do not enter or leave the building if you notice strangers loitering in the entranceway. Don’t hold the door open or allow others to follow you inside unless they live in the building or have permission to enter from a tenant.
  • Ask for proper identification from repairmen, utility workers or strangers. Don’t be afraid of asking – if they are legitimate, they won’t mind. Never give keys to repairmen or delivery persons.
  • If a stranger asks to use the telephone, do not permit him/her to enter your home. Offer to summon emergency assistance or make the call yourself.
  • If you come home and find signs of forced entry, don’t go inside. Instead, go to the nearest phone and call the police.
  • If you leave for an extended period of time, take these extra precautions to protect your home:

o   Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked.

o   Close all blinds so strangers can’t peek inside.

o   Hide electronics/other valuables or take these items with you.

o   Disconnect power cords and electrical appliances that will not be in use.

o   In the winter, turn down your heat, but not below 55 degrees. This will prevent your pipes from freezing while you are away.

o   Try to make your home look occupied by leaving a few lights on or setting up lamps on a timer.

o   Have your mail and/or newspaper delivery temporarily held while you are away. Visit to schedule this service with the local post office.

o   Have a trusted friend or neighbor check on your property. Make sure they have a phone number to contact you in case of an emergency.