Burglaries drive out Regent’s students

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A group of Regent’s Park students have been forced to move back into college accommodation after their house was burgled twice in the space of six days.The college-owned house, which is on Stanley Road in Iffley, was first broken into on 14 February. Less than a week later it was burgled again, on Tuesday 19.Following the two successive break-ins, Regent’s Park has offered the students alternative accommodation at the college site on Pusey Street, central Oxford. In the mean time the college is installing extra security measures in the house, including replacing the locks, putting bars on ground floor windows, and installing CCTV.JCR President Olivia Wright denied that the college was to blame for the lack of security. She said, “The College has already had the Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) round to look at the property and assess security. The CPO said that only minor alterations needed to be made to deter anyone wanting to make a quick entrance.”Wright added, “The College has acted swiftly in looking after the welfare of the students. At the moment, the main concern is making sure that the students all feel comfortable and that they’re in a secure environment.”The house is off-site college accommodation for students. However, it is owned by the London Baptist Property Board, a branch of the London Baptist Association. The Association assists churches and religious institutions with the management of their properties.According to Sam Tomlin, whose iPod was stolen during the second break-in, the burglaries were probably due to carelessness on the parts of the students. The second year Theology student said, “There was no sign of forced entry. One of the back doors is quite hard to lock – maybe one of us left it open, or maybe they came through an open window, or picked a lock.“It seemed that the thieves had been watching the house for a while: they waited until everyone had gone out before breaking in.” He added, “I haven’t heard anything about compensation yet – it would be nice!”However, Wright said that the London Baptist Property Board (LBPB) has promised to give £100 in compensation to every student involved.Rev Paul Martin, Secretary of the LBPB, declined to comment on the matter. He said, “The LBPB holds the legal title to this property on behalf of Regent’s Park College in the capacity of custodian trustees. The management of the property in question is wholly the responsibility of Regent’s Park College.”
The stolen property included three laptops, an iPod, cash, and a guitar. Sam Tomlin added, “I’m not hugely bothered about losing my iPod – it’s not the end of the world for me. At the end of the day they’re just things.”Ed Randell, a second-year English student at Regent’s Park, said, “It’s been a huge shock, and a very traumatic experience for all concerned. However, the general feeling is that no one in college is really to blame.” The students expect that their lost possessions will be covered by insurance.Since the robberies, the college has been consulting with Thames Valley Police to increase security. Toby Shergold, a police spokesperson, said: “We work closely with all the colleges to make sure security is as tight as possible. Our crime reduction advisers work with college authorities on keeping their premises secure.”Dom Weinberg, OUSU Rent and Accommodation Officer, said that students must take responsibility for making sure that their property is insured. He said, “A number of colleges, including St Hugh’s, ensure that their students take out insurance cover for their rooms; since I know that Balliol doesn’t, it seems highly likely that this varies hugely across colleges. OUSU would recommend that every student takes out property cover, whether this is part of a college system or if they have to do so individually,” he said. Weinberg urged students to follow security measures. “Lock doors and windows when not in your room and be aware of strangers hanging around or trying to gain entry as tradesmen,” he said.
A spokesperson for the University said, “The two main things are not to leave the door to your room unlocked, and not to let strangers ‘tailgate’ you as you go into college entrances after the main doors are closed. Accommodation is a college matter and students with concerns should either talk to the Domestic Bursar, or express their concerns via the JCR President. Overall, the nature of colleges means that accommodation is usually much more secure than private accommodation.”Regent’s Park has re-accommodated all the affected students on the college site while the extra security measures are installed.
by Jack Farchy

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