Petty theft is a distressing thing, especially when it happens inside the dorm. First of all, everyone is a suspect. Second, no one would own up to it, and you’ll lose a lot of precious time trying to figure out who the thief is. Worse, you may feel inclined to do a search, which will inevitably tell others who exactly you’re suspecting of being a thief.
The fastest way to get into a fight with someone is accusing him of stealing something from you without any proof. No matter how many times you apologize about it in the future, you can never take back calling someone a dishonest person.
Even if your dorm room has state-of-the-art close circuit TV cameras in the hallway and the common rooms, petty theft could still happen. Of course you should always ask about how the dorm keeps strangers posing as students away and the general security of the building. But every dorm resident is vulnerable to petty theft, especially those that happen inside the bathrooms and dorm rooms.
So, that leaves you with only one option, theft prevention. Here are some ideas.
Keep Personal Belongings Out of Sight
Envy starts inside the mind, and when this negative emotion takes root inside the consciousness of someone, it’s difficult to repress. You can’t always avoid showing off your new gadget or your new branded leather bag, but make sure you keep the desirable item out of sight when you have to go somewhere. Leaving it lying around, or in a pile at the far end of your bed, will inspire envy in others.
If you really have no time to keep your stuff and you have to run to get to your next class, make sure you at least cover the items with a thick blanket or your comforter. Leave a spot inside your drawer especially for items that you need to stow away quickly. If you really have no space left inside your secure closet, keep your lockable luggage under your bed as a reserve storage space for your valuables. While a thief would be able to drag the luggage away, people would notice when someone walks around carrying your luggage.
Keep At Least One Drawer Locked
Petty thieves are not like the professional robbers that would know how to pick a lock or how to force open a secure drawer using a crowbar. A padlock is a good enough deterrent for opportunistic would-be petty thieves that go through your stuff out of curiosity. If you have an item that you don’t want to share or lend out, keep it in the locked drawer. This way, a guest or your own roommate would not be tempted to “borrow” that item like he would a pencil sharpener or a paper clip.
Don’t keep all your cash inside the locked drawer. One disadvantage of placing padlocks on drawers is you’re tagging those drawers as your cash boxes. Separate your loose cash into several bundles, one can be hidden in your drawer, and another one can be hidden in your closet.
Know the Disciplinary Rules Covering Petty Thievery
If you have a suspect, the best person to approach in confidence is the resident manager. As I mentioned in the article on how to avoid confrontations in the dorm, filing a legitimate complaint could alert the resident manager about a specific problem, which may be common among everyone in the dorm. Find out how the dorm handled similar cases in the past, and also how the state penalizes petty thieves.
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