Living Out

Durham is a very safe place to live, but every year we do still have a number of opportunist thieves who are looking for an easy target. Most students have laptops, mobile phones, ipods and other electrical equipment which are easy to carry. Many also have cycles. All of these items are potential targets for criminals. These tips have been sent to us from the local police force to help you live out safely.

You can also get in contact with our SJCR Livers’ Out Representative, check out the Common Room Directory to get their details.


  • Mark your property with a UV pen. Your name and college, or house number and postcode will suffice, and you can mark virtually anything. The ink is invisible when dry and can only be seen under a UV light. This may not prevent you property from being stolen, but will greatly improve your chances of getting it back if it is recovered by the Police. For laptops and mobile phones, take out the battery and mark inside the device before re-fitting the battery. This will help prevent the UV marking to be rubbed away. Don’t write on the screen!!  (You may laugh, but it has been done before!!)
  • Lock windows and doors when leaving the room, even if only going out for a short time. It only takes a few seconds for someone to steal your property.
  • Don’t leave valuables unattended. This includes libraries, lecture rooms, bedrooms.
  • Don’t leave valuables in public view. When you have finished studying by the window, put your laptop out of sight. Don’t encourage a criminal to break in to your room.
  • At night close the curtains and leave a light on if you are not in the room (use a low energy bulb). If you have window blinds then tilt them so that valuables cannot be seen. Consider using a timer switch to operate a table lamp or radio/hi-fi to help give the impression someone is in the room (not too loud!!).
  • If you have a house alarm fitted, make sure you know how to operate it. I have attended a student house in the past where they had been burgled twice, but when asked if the alarm was working they said they ‘didn’t know how to switch it on’ !! If you don’t know how to operate the alarm, ask your landlord.
  • Don’t leave wheelie bins near to buildings where they can help a burglar climb to the next storey.
  • Don’t forget some burglars use ladders so please close upstairs windows when going out.
  • If you have a bike, then use a good quality D lock and secure the bike properly. Don’t just leave it propped against a tree.
  • If your street lights are not working, report it to the council on 0191 3706000
  • If you have a vehicle, always lock doors, windows, boot and sunroof when leaving, again even if only for a short time.
  • Always remove Sat navs / MP3’s etc from the vehicles. Also remove their holders/cradles and wipe away any marks left on the windscreen which highlight to thieves that  you have used one of these devices.


  • Try not to walk home alone, especially when it is dark. Try and walk with friends. If this isn’t possible then try and let friends know when you intend to return so they know when to expect you. They may even be able to meet you.
  • Avoid poorly lit areas and keep to well lit paths. The SU has created a map of Durham which shows lit routes around town which provides good advice. You can also use the SU Nightbus for £1 a trip.
  • Try to walk towards oncoming traffic (on the path) so you can see if there is something about to be thrown from the vehicle in your direction. Incidents like this don’t happen often but have in the past.
  • If something is thrown at you, try to get a good description of the vehicle ( / colour / size / model) and report the incident immediately.
  • Consider carrying a personal attack alarm. The police can provide these if you need one.
  • Try not to go to cashpoints alone and try to avoid going at night.
  • Try to limit your mobile phone use in public. It can make you vulnerable because you are not always aware of what’s going on around you while you are deep in conversation. Normally they are illuminated when being used so this stands out to thieves at night.
  • Remember when using headphones you are not aware of your surroundings (cars / bikes / thieves).
  • Drink sensibly – never put yourself at risk because you have had one too many.
  • Never leave drinks unattended. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to ‘spiking’.


  • Get to know your neighbours and try to build up a relationship with local residents.
  • Be considerate to other residents, especially if having a party in your house. Remember that noise travels a long way and some people have to get up early in the morning!!
  • Consider making your street a ‘Student Watch’ area where you can help each other to beat the criminal. Get in contact with the Durham University Police Liaison Officer if you are interested.
  • Enjoy your time living out and try to help others enjoy it too.

If you need any advice or help, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the University Liaison Officer, PCSO Rebecca Carey:

Instagram @DurhamUniPolice

Twitter @durhampolice


Rebecca also holds private one to one or small group meetings in the Palatine Centre. She is now available on Thursdays between 1.30pm and 3.30pm in the Student Support Hub, PC063. Students may drop in or contact Rebecca in advance by email.