By Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb
DESPITE fine construction, good maintenance and relatively intensive security, theft is a persistent problem on campus, especially in our student halls of residence.
The majority of crimes are thefts of personal property, which has been left unattended, unsecured and unmarked. At the University of Namibia, Polytechnic and at all our other colleges, strict security measures are already in place. Procedural security is, unfortunately a different matter.
Most students come from a home environment where they were not responsible for security and hence are not used to taking a personal role in securing the campus residence and their property. Additionally, most students are also not familiar with any group living arrangement and are not aware that their actions affect not only their personal security, but the security of all those other students who reside in their dormitory. Security in student residence halls is collective and everyone has to cooperate to maintain adequate security. Every time an unthinking student opens an outside or corridor door, security is affected.
When your roommate leaves the room door open, your security is compromised. Take a few moments early in the semester to reach an agreement with those with whom you share access to your room about keeping the door locked at all times when no one is there. It is also a good practice to keep the door closed and locked when you are sleeping in the room.
Accept that in a room, you have roommates and work with all of them to achieve mutually acceptable security. Learn the security rules, procedures and cooperate! The rules are in place to help assure collective security for all student residents. Deliberate non-compliance compromises the security of everyone who lives on the campus. Should you observe that a component of the security system is not operative, report it promptly to the student representative council or responsible official.
Examples of conditions which should be reported are lights not working, doors which don’t close and bolt, locks which don’t work, broken windows, windows that won’t bolt, common areas whose locks don’t work and any safety hazard or dangerous condition. If you have a concern about the adequacy of existing security devices or fire-fighting equipment, see your student representative council and suggest improvements. Many enhancements to physical security are the result of input from students.
Holidays move-in and move-out are usually high-risk periods for theft because there is mass confusion involving property moving in and out of the residence halls. Property is often left unattended “momentarily” while owners deal with other issues.
When deciding what personal property to keep in your room, give crime prevention a thought. Articles of value should be concealed within the room and not left lying around. Bear in mind that your ability to conceal the presence of some items from your roommate is extremely limited and if you have concerns about this vulnerability, you may want to re-think keeping the item in the room. Keeping cash in the room is strongly discouraged since it is unidentifiable if stolen. Signed blank cheques are frequently stolen from rooms and in many such thefts, the owner is unaware the cheques are gone until notices of overdrafts are received. Keeping only the book of blanks from which you are writing cheques is the best practice.
The best way to hang on to personal property is to mark it; engraving or mark it with indelible marker. Marking accomplishes three things:
– It helps get your property back to you.
– It reduces it potential resale value.
– It makes it highly undesirable for a thief to possess since it’s clearly not theirs.
There are few items, which cannot be marked in some manner. A favourite target of theft is textbooks, which can readily be sold. The recommended means of marking books (after, of course, you’re certain that they are correct and you will not be dropping the course for which purchased) is to write your name in block letters on the edges of the pages in indelible ink and to select a page number you can remember and on that page in every book, write your name as close to the spine of the book as you can. This type of marking is less likely to be noticed by a thief, but will guarantee you the ability to positively identify your book if stolen. And it won’t be removed, since missing pages make a book unacceptable for buy-back. If you keep the book, no harm done. If you sell the book, the next buyer can line out your markings or simply add his/her own to yours.
Parked student vehicles on campus are also the target of thieves. Coupled with the typical student’s habit of parking the vehicles for days without using it (blame the fuel price increases?), you have a situation ripe for theft. Check your vehicle as often as your schedule permits and keep it clean to give the impression it is frequently used. You may also park your car regularly in different parking bays.
Your security is a fundamental need and must be addressed if you are to function effectively as a student!
Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Namibia Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy.