Don’t get cheated by video game console


It’s no surprise college students love video games. One need only peek into the UNF Game Room — at just about any time — to be reminded of this fact.

Combine students’ love of gaming, their shoulder-to-shoulder living arrangements in the dormitories and empty wallets; anyone can see the potential for problems. Electronics are among the most frequently stolen items on campuses, due to our generation’s lust for gadgets and the fact that they are easily concealed and non-descript.

Sony and Microsoft’s most recent consoles — the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively — are some of the most expensive consoles to hit the market, with the Xbox 360 Elite and the PS3 at $399.

Though the price of both systems recently dropped to $299, losing a console to theft could be a major hit to any student’s wallet.

The two systems also house a limited amount of personal information, which a persistent and tech-savvy thief could benefit from, said Jim Mays, owner of the local game store Gameforce.

One could easily acquire a person’s name and address from Xbox LIVE, the system’s online gaming program, but credit card numbers would be a little harder, he said.

“That would be a total hackjob,” Mays said. “It’s all blacked out except for the last four digits [of the credit card number.]”

Though a thief may not be able to take your credit card on a shopping spree, he or she could use information stored on the Xbox to make purchases in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace — an application that lets users download games, add-ons and other media, Mays said.

“Honestly, if you put all that [excessive personal information] into your Xbox, you’re an idiot. It’s like your mom sewing your name on your underwear,” he said.

There are a number of ways to mitigate thievery. One example is likened to an option students have been taking advantage of for their laptops — locking devices. Such locks look like bike locks and can attach to any laptop. Many people, however, are not aware that with a little searching, one can find the same kind of hardware to protect just about any gadget.

Web sites like and are among many retailers that offer products which will anchor your favorite console to anything too heavy to carry away. For about $30 — half the price of a new game — students can buy a lock that will secure their investment.

Not only will such a lock keep potential thieves at bay, the mechanism attaches to the console in a way that won’t void the warranty. Any modification, performed by an unlicensed individual, which requires opening a console — or just about any electronic device — voids its warranty, but the steel-cable locks available online and at many electronics stores are specifically designed to dissuade burglars while protecting consumers’ rights by attaching to the console in a manner that is kosher with manufacturers.

While UPD cited only four burglaries and zero robberies — including attempts — in student housing in 2008 (and 28 burglaries and two robberies in the dorms between 2006 and Dec. 31, 2008), many are simply not reported.

The statistics seem promising, but optimism will only last until one becomes a victim. Playing the odds does not always work, and it is ultimately up to the student to be proactive, Chief John Dean said.

“We need students to secure [their] items and don’t be so trusting,” Dean said. “Thieves take advantage of those situations.”

It is important to know the people you live around, though inviting everyone you meet to your dorm may not be the wisest decision, freshman French studies major Nate Mullen said.

“We lock up after we leave and while we’re in here, so if anyone wants to come in, it’s gonna be tough to get in the door,” Mullen said.

Mullen also owns a laptop lock, which he locks while he’s away from his room and while he’s using the laptop abroad, he said.

“When I take it out and do some studying on the patio or something, I just lock it up to where I am,” Mullen said.

There are other methods which may not prevent a theft but can certainly aid in recovering stolen electronics.

If a consumer keeps a copy of the serial number found on his or her personal electronics, they stand a much greater chance of recovering a stolen item. Most people who steal these things are going to try to sell them, Mays said, and pawn shops and video game retailers who deal in used merchandise must hold used goods for 15 days while they are cleared with local law enforcement.

“Certain things that have monetary value, or even sentimental value, if they have a serial number of some sort, whip up an Excel spreadsheet. So many people don’t even think about it,” Mays said.