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Waterford Gardai offer personal security tips as students return to campus

As students across the country make the return to campus, Gardai in Waterford have shared some personal safety tips to ensure that students can enjoy college in a safe and comfortable setting.

Garda Brian Quirke from Tramore Garda Station shared some of the tips on this week's Waterford Garda Watch. He says often, students can think it will never be them that becomes the victim of a crime - but they shouldn't underestimate the potential of that happening.

"Crime can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. The culprit thinks that they won’t get caught, and the victim thinks: “It won’t be me!” The reality is very different. For every crime there is always a victim. Not every culprit will get caught, but every victim will suffer. The extent of your suffering or loss will depend on three key factors: Your vulnerability Your environment. Your individual behaviour. It’s always better to be safe than sorry."

In terms of observation and confidence, Gardai are advising students to minimise risks and trust their gut feelings if they find themselves with a feeling of discomfort.

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"When walking in public do so in a confident and prompt manner. A thief or an attacker will seek out the most vulnerable target. When you are in public be observant. Look around you and be wary of strangers whether they are on their own or in groups. Note the nearest public building or place of safety. If you are not sure about your surroundings go back to where you came from, and seek a trusted companion to accompany you to your destination. Trust your instincts, avoid confrontation and if something is not quite right, go to a safe place straight away."

When planning a night out, it's important to make travel plans and to let your friends know if you're leaving.

"How are you going to get there and how you are going to return? Let people know where you are going and how long you should be? Let your friends know if you are leaving with someone
outside of your group."

Valuables are what is sought after most by thieves - particularly mobile phones. Garda Quirke has this piece of advice to prepare for the worst should you lose your phone or have it stolen.

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"The number one target for the street thief is your mobile phone. Avoid making or taking calls in public. If your phone does ring, try and answer it in a public building rather than on the street. Keep your mobile phone safe and out of sight. Dial *#06# to access your phone’s unique IMEI number. If your phone is stolen you will need this number when reporting it to Gardaí. Conceal your wallet or purse. Carry only as much cash and cards as necessary. Keep a separate amount of cash on your person in case your wallet or purse is stolen. Do not struggle with a thief; you may injure yourself in the process. Avoid displaying expensive or sentimental jewellery in public."

Gardai are also urging students to steer clear of badly-lit areas and to make sure cars and doors are locked.

"Avoid darkly lit places for walking or parking. Keep your car locked at all times. Avoid leaving valuables on display in cars. If you need to travel through a poorly lit area, do so with a companion. Likewise, if you are in a group, be conscious of others walking by on their own. If you think you are being followed - cross the road. If you are being followed go to the nearest public place, like a shop, a pub or a house with lights on and contact the Gardaí."

If you are assaulted, help is available to you 24 hours a day. Call 999 or 112 immediately.

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