Lancashire police warn students to be more vigilant

A Lancashire police officer has said he is concerned over the number of reported crimes by higher education students in Preston in recent weeks.

Since the start of April there have been 18 offences reported, including theft, robbery, damage and assault.

Det Sgt John Crichton, of Preston CID, said students could be vulnerable to "local criminals".

"When I look at the robbery figures, it seems that students pop up quite a bit," he said.

"We have about 25,000 students, enjoying themselves and contributing to the economy of the town, and if they have had something to drink they become vulnerable and preyed on by some of our local criminals," the detective said.

'Pick them out'

He said there had also been some Chinese students who had had cash stolen when they went to cash machines.

"I really want to raise students' awareness about carrying mobiles, laptops and going to cash tills that this might happen. This is a great place, but some students can look quite well-heeled and our local criminals can pick them out, they just need to be more aware," he added.

He said there had not been a noticeable rise but was concerned that the figures averaged at an offence happening about once per day since the start of the month.

A spokeswoman for the city's university said it promoted a number of personal safety initiatives.

Janet Maiden, security manager at the UClan, said free personal attack alarms were available from the students' union, there were on-site security staff and a special forensic solution called SmartWater to identify students' possessions was also being offered.

"Posters advising students on safety issues are in all halls of residence and safety messages are periodically reinforced via security promotions and repeated on the plasma screens around the campus."

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