7 tips to keep backpacks safe instead of stolen

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Students carry their most important and expensive school supplies on their backs each day. An average college student’s backpack can contain up to $3,000 in valuables.

BYU Student Nicole Guillott keeps her backpack on her at all times while walking to class.
BYU student Nicole Guilott keeps her backpack on her at all times while walking to class. (Natalie Stoker)

Regardless of how safe a campus may be, a student’s backpack is still an easy target for theft. Listed below are the top seven ways to keep backpacks safe instead of stolen.

1.   Keep backpacks on at all times.

Throughout the day, students will need to take backpacks off (sitting in class, doing homework, etc.) However, it is crucial they keep visual and physical contact with the bag.

In regard to backpack safety, BYU student Nicole Guilott said she never lets her backpack out of sight.

“I have always been weirdly protective of my stuff,” Guilott said. “I sit at my desk with my backpack touching my feet the whole time so that I know that it is there because I have everything in my backpack.”

2. Don’t leave backpacks in cars (even locked cars).

“Don’t leave backpacks in unlocked cars,” said BYU Police Department’s Lt. Lemmon. “If you leave things in your car that are visible they are subject to theft. It is very easy to break a window and take what’s in there.”

A green note is left by the BYU library security on a unattended backpack. This note warns about the danger of leaving backpacks unattended.
A green note is left (by the BYU library security officers) on an unattended backpack. This note warns about the danger of leaving backpacks unattended. (Natalie Stoker)

3. Never leave backpacks unattended.

The library security officers find many unattended items. Whether students are taking a quick bathroom break or grabbing a snack from the vending machine, an unattended backpack can easily get stolen.

Library Security department Sgt. Mike Mock said student officers walk throughout the library checking for any unattended items. Officers leave notes on unattended items they see; this note warns students to avoid leaving their backpacks and personal property unattended.

4. Be mindful of campus surroundings.

Sgt. Mock said backpack thieves aren’t usually other students, but can be people who come to campus posing as a student.

“If you see someone sitting around with no backpack and no books, that should be a red flag,” Mock said.

If students see any unusual activity, it is best to report it to BYU Police.

5. Don’t keep cellphones in backpacks.

If possible, students should keep their cellphones on them at all times. By keeping their cellphones in a jean or coat pocket, students don’t risk it getting stolen in a backpack.

6. Keep backpack zippers secured.

Forgetting to zip up a backpack can lead to potential stolen or misplaced items. If students fail to secure the zippers on backpacks, loose items can fall out without the student knowing.

7. Back up everything in your backpack.

To prevent the loss of schoolwork should a backpack be stolen, be sure to back up school work electronically (using a USB or email).

Lost and Found student manager holds backpacks that have been misplaced on campus.
Lost and Found Student Manager Rachel Wainwright holds backpacks that have been misplaced on campus. (Natalie Stoker)

If a student’s backpack is stolen, students should contact BYU Police and check the university’s Lost and Found. Located on the bottom floor of the Wilkinson Center, the lost and found has been a home for many misplaced backpacks.

BYU Lost and Found Student Manager Rachel Wainwright asks that students come check the Lost and Found. Wainwright said if students don’t find what they are looking for, workers at the office can give further suggestions for where else to check on campus.

BYU officials strive to keep campus safe. But incidents have happened and can happen.

“It is a safe campus, but it is only as safe as the student body will participate in keeping it safe,” Lemmon said.

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