Theft Prevention

Theft Prevention Strategies

It’s important to exercise personal safety and security measures on a daily basis. Even a small action can make a big difference in safeguarding yourself against theft.

Public Spaces

In public spaces such as the library, cafeteria or any open, accessible space on campus.

  • Don’t leave your things unattended. Even a quick trip to the washroom can give someone the opportunity to take something of yours, so it’s best to not give them the opportunity.
  • If you have a trusted friend nearby, ask them to watch your things or take them with you.
  • If you’re worried about losing your space in the library, consider asking a nearby peer to hold your space or leaving something without value such as scrap paper.


Your locker can be a great place to store jackets, bags or books but is not always the most secure place to leave valuable items like laptops, tablets or other items. To safeguard your items, purchase a high quality lock and avoid storing valuable items in your locker.


U of A offers a number of places to lock your bike, including paid bicycle cage permits. To purchase a bike cage permit, view the parking services website for information.

Here are some theft prevention tips when using U of A bike racks:

  • Use a u-shaped bike lock. With this type of lock, secure your bike and wheels to the bike rack. If possible, ensure any gaps between your bike and lock are small to prevent tampering. Cable locks can be cut and removed more easily from your bike, which can increase the risk of theft. Best way to lock your bike.
  • Take any removable items and accessories with you. Lights, odometers, water bottles or anything else not secured to your bike can be targets for theft.
  • Avoid putting your bike lock near the ground. If the position of your lock is near the ground, it can give room for someone to smash the lock open.
  • Lock your bike in designated areas. Avoid isolated, unlit locations that could increase the risk of theft.
  • Keep a record of your bike details. Keep a record of your bike’s model, make, colour, serial number and any other characteristics. For added precautions, keep a picture that can be submitted to UAPS or EPS to help track down your property.
  • Add your bike to the Edmonton Police Service bike index . This is a registry that helps police locate your bike if it is stolen.

Parking Lots + Your Vehicle

  • Take your belongings with you including personal identification or other vital information or items. Leaving items in your car, including loose change or clothing, can increase the risk of theft. Additionally, if someone does manage to break into your vehicle, it is important to safeguard from theft of important documents, such as your ID or even your house keys.
  • Lock the doors and roll up your windows. Unlocked doors and rolled down windows (even just by an inch) can increase the risk of theft. This can happen quickly so lock up whenever you’re away from your vehicle, even if you’re just stepping away for a moment.

Offices, Workstations, Retail Spaces + Pop-up Shops

It’s important to always keep valuable items with you in a safe, secure space, like a locked desk drawer or office, or at home. Leaving valuables, like your wallet or purse, in the open or in an unsecure location can increase the risk of theft — even if you are only away from your workstation for a short period of time.

Other theft prevention tips include:

  • Don’t use signs with vacation times or operation hours. Notifying individuals when you are away from your office can be handy but it can also be used to target your workstation or office when you’re not around.
  • Avoid propping open doors to secure or locked spaces. If you find a door that is propped open, remove the obstruction.
  • For retail spaces, consider posting a “no cash on premises” sign. It’s also a good idea to not have large sums of cash on the premises.
  • Use a strategic floor plan. Offices and retail space can take preventative steps with floor plans by ensuring the entrance faces a receptionist desk and that inner spaces are not widely accessible. Having visitors greet a staff member in order to enter any areas in the back of your office space can help prevent theft or other unwanted activity. You may also want to request identification from the visitor depending on the situation.

If a stranger walks into your work area or retail space, politely ask if you can help them. If they do not respond to your question and appear suspicious, please contact protective services for assistance.

What to do if you see suspicious activity

If you see suspicious activity, please report it to U of A Protective Services.

Suspicious activity can include seeing individuals:

  • Attempt to access secure or locked spaces
  • Carry a potential weapon such as a knife or crow bar
  • Carry tools (such as bolt cutters or screwdrivers) without appearing to be a member of the maintenance, project team or a similar U of A or contractor group
  • Attempt to tamper with any mechanical or electrical systems or amenities without appearing to be a member of the maintenance, project team or a similar U of A or contractor group
  • Refuse assistance while they attempt to access a secure location or retail space

The U of A Protective Services team is committed to treating all persons who attend the university’s campuses with dignity and respect while remaining unbiased, non-prejudicial, transparent, accepting and accountable.

Reporting suspicious behaviour to U of A Protective Services can help prevent incidents or support a person in need. The Community Assistance Team, a partnership between the U of A’s Protective Services and the Mustard Seed Society, uses a person-centered, consent-based approach to help individuals find and navigate support for help with but not limited to houselessness, substance use, mental health, identification and financial support systems.