STARTING university or college can mean some significant life changes - making new friends, studying in a new town, going out to new places and living independently for the first time.

However, Police Scotland is warning some of these changes could also increase your risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Start out in the safest way possible, take some simple steps to protect yourself and your property, and above all keep safe.

Whether you are living in student halls, or a flat, you may be away from home for the first time with the new responsibility to keep your home and your property safe from theft.

Thieves will be aware that new students arrive every year with new laptops and tablets and also that many use pedal cycles to get around campus. This can make you a target for theft.

There are simple measures you can take to keep yourself and your property safe.

Think about your level of security at home – are there working locks on doors and windows? If you are renting, ask the landlord to upgrade the security.

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Keep your doors and windows locked whenever you are out. If you are on the ground floor you should consider closing your windows when you are out of the room for extended periods / at night, especially where high value items are within line of sight from outside.

Keep your high value items such as laptops, tablets, phones out of sight and secure when you are not using them. Keep a record of any model/serial numbers and consider property marking and “find my device” apps.

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If you live in a property with a controlled entry door, never let anyone into the building or through a controlled entry door unless you know them or have seen their identification. If someone should buzz looking for another flat, don’t let them in – tell them to call the flat directly. If you’re ordering a takeaway, don’t give the delivery driver the keypad number for the door.

Pedal cycles are very attractive to thieves. Get yours insured if possible, use a security marking product and always use a good quality D-lock fixed to a secure anchor when not in use.

Border Telegraph:

Online Safety

There are a number of steps you can take to help make sure you don't get trapped in the web and become a victim of crime online.

Create a separate password for your email.

Create a strong password using three random words.

Save your passwords in your browser.

Turn on two-factor authentication.

Update your devices.

Turn on backup.

Practical Guidance

Protecting your computer

Secure your Wi-Fi using the encryption option.

Do not open emails from people you don't know.

Install anti-virus / anti-spyware software and a firewall.

Keep your computer software, web browser and security up-to-date.

Don't use obvious passwords e.g. birthdays. Use a mixture of numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters and use different passwords for different sites.

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Social networking

Keep your personal information hidden.

Set security levels so that only your friends can view your profile.

If someone sends you an abusive message, save them and contact the forum administrator.

Don't arrange to meet someone that you have only met online - some people might not be who they say they are.

You should also check your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Cyber Aware provides essential advice on protecting yourself online from National Cyber Security Centre.

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Online finance and shopping

Look for "https://" and the padlock image to show that the site is secure.

Use a secure payment option such as PayPal or a dedicated pre-pay credit card for all online purchases.

Beware of sponsored links at the top or side of search pages. These are now always reliable and can be used by criminals.

Remember, banks and financial institutions do not send emails asking you to verify your bank details by clicking on a link. Always check with your bank.

Get help

If you suspect you have been a victim of cybercrime contact Police Scotland on 101 to report it.

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Using illegal drugs or illicit substances, regardless of quantity, endangers your health and your life; there is no real way of knowing exactly what you are taking or how your body will react. They can contain unknown chemicals which can be harmful, even fatal.

Consuming pharmaceutical products outwith prescribed levels, can also be dangerous.

Mixing drugs and alcohol can produce chemical reactions which you cannot control. Why jeopardise your health ,safety and life?

Possessing illegal drugs can have legal consequences, affecting the rest of your life. Why jeopardise your career or travel opportunities with a drug conviction?

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Practical Guidance

There is no 'safe' way to take drugs - there is always a risk. The only way of staying safe is to avoid drugs altogether.

If you think you could be pressurised into taking drugs, plan what you will say and do before it happens.

Encourage any friend you’re with not to take drugs - don't be part of any peer pressure.

If you or someone you know has taken a drug and feel unwell, then seek urgent medical advice.