• Four ways to survive studenthouse thieves

    Struggling with theft in your student house? You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. Here's some heartfelt advice on how to deal with it. Just don't poison anyone out of revenge.

    1. Get Your Own Fridge

    The item most commonly stolen in international student houses? Food! With shared fridges, in hallways and kitchens, you can’t control who has access. Worse still, you don’t even want to imagine what disease the person drinking your orange juice may have and is spitting back into it. Half your juice disappeared? Don’t worry, he’s left you glandular fever in return.

    Samia Murgham, from Zimbabwe, bought a fridge that cost her more than the rent. But will it end the problem? ‘Maybe… depends on your roommate.’

    2. Confrontation

    In this case, your bark will have to be worse than your bite. However, it never hurts to report a theft to the managers or confront the person you suspect of stealing… except that your complaint might be dismissed and you will be labelled ‘whiny’.

    To be honest, this is the least effective method, unless you catch someone red-handed. Student managers can only warn others against stealing. However, the ones stealing already know they shouldn’t be doing it, so a few rants and 10 p.m. knocks on your student manager’s door later, you’re back to square one.

    3. The Five-finger discount

    Picture yourself as Robin Hood. Inconsiderate housemates are stealing and not just from you. Why not return the favour?

    Begin with a process of elimination. It just can’t be the shy Latvian girl or the polite Vietnamese Business student. It’s unlikely to be the Master’s students who prepare elaborate meals every night and have candlelit group dinners either. So who’s left?

    Most likely it’s the guys coming back with munchies at 4 a.m. from a night out. After all, drinking impairs judgement and who can resist a warm plate of pasta at that time? Sometimes you just think last night my ice cream disappeared, tonight it’s the turn of your lasagne.

    Beware, though, that you don’t turn into the monster you’ve been trying to destroy. It’s best done only in retaliation and to those who most likely did it to you. However, it could’ve been anyone of the hundreds in the student house, not just someone in your hall.

    Like the typically East African solution of mob justice, stealing back is not something this article is encouraging you to do… it’s just food for thought.

    4. Don’t leave your stuff lying about

    Often, when students leave Van Houtenlaan, they leave behind things they couldn’t take home with them: sofas, clothes, books and – if you’re lucky and they’re hot – a goodbye hug… or more. Anyway, someone may just assume that the boots you left in front of your door are ‘gratis’. To avoid the ensuing awkwardness and embarrassment when asking for your things back, just keep them in your room.


    Don’t attempt to poison anyone out of revenge. It may seem like a good idea to put crushed glass in your Ben & Jerry’s and leave it in the fridge as bait, but don’t. Theft is worse in prison and if you do it despite being warned here, don’t drop the soap!