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Best Portable Safes and Personal Lock Boxes for Dorm Room Security

Updated on October 31, 2015

A Small Portable Lock Box Keeps the Student's Valuables Secure

College students have more valuables to take care of than ever before - electronics, bank cards, passport, keys - all very tempting to a thief. It makes good common sense to keep your valuable gear locked up in a personal safe or lock box.

Security in a college dorm is usually pretty good these days, but let's be realistic. How well do you know your new roommate? Do you trust every single guest who comes into your dorm room? Did your room mate remember to lock the door to prevent theft, if he left the apartment after you did? (Don't get me started on my old roomie, first term in freshman year!) And what about those times - let's be honest, it happens - when you leave your room door unlocked "for just a minute" while you dash down the hall for a quick chat?

A small vault-style dorm safe or a personal lockbox with a cable tether or bracket, attached to a solid piece of furniture like your bed, can save you a lot of heartache - not to mention the hassle and expense of replacing stolen items. Better safe than sorry!

My top pick for all-purpose security: DormVault's 7-inch steel cube with combination lock, attaches to a dormitory bed or dresser, radiator pipe, or other immovable object using internal bolts that can't be unfastened without first opening the vault itself. It's a simple, clever, effective solution to keeping your valuable essentials safe from a passing thief just looking for temptation and opportunity.

Personal Cube Safe - Steel Dorm Vault Safe Attaches Securely with No Harm to Furniture

This compact 7-inch steel cube safe is designed to attach to your dorm room bed or other built-ins without the need for tools - and no damage to the furniture, of course - with a bracket and wingnut/bolt assembly. At home in an apartment, where the options are less limited, I might think about securing the safe to a drainpipe under the kitchen sink or some similar place where the unit would be tucked away out of sight as well as attached to something that can't be moved quickly and easily.

DormVault DV450 Steel Cube-Shaped Safe with Combination Padlock
DormVault DV450 Steel Cube-Shaped Safe with Combination Padlock

Compact 7-inch steel cube safe is designed to attach to your dorm room bed or other built-ins without the need for tools - and no damage to the furniture, of course - with a bracket and wingnut/bolt assembly. Combination padlock is included.

 

Small Portable Security Safes - Ideal for Dorm Rooms, Travel

If the cube doesn't do it for you, here are a few other small lockboxes and mini vaults that will work very well for dorm rooms, a shared apartment, or in your RV if you're travelling.

SentrySafe Security Safe, Medium Digital Lock Safe, 0.5 Cubic Feet, X055
SentrySafe Security Safe, Medium Digital Lock Safe, 0.5 Cubic Feet, X055

This one has an electronic lock with keypad, which runs off two AA batteries - but you can override the electronics with a good old-fashioned key in case the batteries die or you forget the pass code. Serious security that's pry-proof and fortified against having the lock drilled out, this safe is also made so you can bolt it to your floor for extra protection.

 
ECR4Kids Lock and Roll Portable Under-Bed Personal Safe
ECR4Kids Lock and Roll Portable Under-Bed Personal Safe

Slim enough to slide under a bed on its built-in wheels, this sturdy and convenient safe comes with a tough 71-inch long cable to anchor it so it can't be carried off - the only way the cable can be removed is if the lockbox is open. Measuring 26.5 x 16.3 x 5.8 inches, it's plenty big to hold your laptop as well as all those small valuables you don't want to leave unattended.

 

Protecting Your Stuff "On the Go" - What about a Personal Safe / Lockbox that comes with a Cable Tether?

It may be most convenient and sensible to have one slightly larger safe for in the dormitory itself, anchored or tethered to stay in place, to hold most of your valuables - and then a smaller personal-sized lockbox you can grab-and-go easily to keep your most-used essentials both safe and close at hand when you need them.

Small Personal Lockbox with Cable Tether to Protect Your Cash and Small Valuables

A small and very discreet locking safe box is often all you need, but of course you'll want to choose one with a secure cable to anchor it to a piece of heavy furniture or an immovable structural element such as a pipe of built-in, so a thief can't just pick up your lockbox and walk off with it - and with everything you've put inside, too!

Smaller lockboxes, sized just right to hold your phone and keys, will come in handy when you're in the shower or on the playing field, or you've just stepped away from your desk for a moment.

To Buy a Small Portable Safe

...or a Very Small Portable Safe? Size Does Matter!

To help figure out what size of dorm safe you'll need, gather together all of those the valuables you'll want to lock up for safety, and put them into the smallest cardboard box they'll all fit inside. That will give you a general sense of the capacity you'll need in cubic inches, to help you gauge the general size to look at.

But, as anyone who has packed a suitcase will know, how you arrange the objects can make a difference in how well they'll all fit into the box!

So if you have mostly thin flat items to stash away, like your charge cards and cellphone, you'd be able to do with a lockbox that's more wide and long, maybe not so deep. On the other hand, to lock up your snazzy DSLR camera will need a more cube-shaped safe. Bear in mind the size you'll need in terms of the dimensions (height, width and depth) as well as the volume in cubic inches.

Tip

Do allow for a little extra space, in your calculations for the perfect size for your dorm safe. College life is too busy to spend a lot of time very carefully re-packing a lockbox, fitting all the valuable stuff back into it like some kind of puzzle - you're much more likely to want to just grab-and-go! And what if you get a new piece of gear at some time during the term? Gotta have somewhere to put it, too!

Portable Personal Safe / Lockbox - Fashionable Case Design with Combination Lock and Tether

Water-resistant, cushioned inside, and totally portable, the attractive MasterLock case is one of the most popular lockbox styles for people with an active lifestyle. Anchor it to the fence while you're on the tennis court, or to your work station when you're on the job. You don't even have to take your devices out of the case to use or charge them, thanks to a port for charging cable or earbuds. The built-in cable wraps tightly around the case when you don't need it, or you can use it as a handy carrying handle!

Master Lock 5900DPNK Portable Personal Safe, Pink
Master Lock 5900DPNK Portable Personal Safe, Pink

Also available in Gunmetal Grey and White

 

More Advice for Dorm Theft Prevention

Better Security for College Students' Belongings

I'm building a little list here of resources I've found, which I started to seek out when Favorite Niece was getting ready to go off to university on the other side of the country last fall. You may find some of these pages useful - all of these are straight from the orientation pages of American university and college websites, tailored to the student experience.

Theft Prevention In Campus Buildings | Safety Counts

http://safetycounts.berkeley.edu/content/theft-prevention-campus-buildings

UC Berkeley provides tips to discourage would-be thieves in residence halls, along with other crime prevention initiatives.

Brown University Department of Public Safety | Laptop Safety

http://www.brown.edu/Administration/Public_Safety/safety/laptop.html

The Brown University Department of Public Safety gives tips on how to prevent theft of laptops and other portable electronic devices.

How do you protect your valuables when you're living away from home?

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    • Cesky profile image

      Cecilia Karanja 3 years ago from Nairobi

      I lost my very 'expensive' phone from my room the week I joined college. Wish I had one of these.

    • Jess Martell profile image

      Jess Martell 3 years ago

      Yes, I actually have a small safe with me at school. Nice lens

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      I like the selection you have presented here! The cable tethers look ideal.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Good tip for those that will be going away to college in the Fall. I like the idea of a tethered or post-secured lock box best.

    • profile image

      TamarWrites 4 years ago

      My daughter is a high school senior and I never thought to purchase this for her dorm list next year. With so many electronic gadgets, I guess it is on the must have list!

    • profile image

      beindustrial 4 years ago

      This is really a cool idea. I gave my brother a single locker when he went to college last year. I bought an industrial locker from Bahrns.com and he love it. It is sturdy, heavy duty and with its simple blank surface, my brother used his creativity and hand painted the locker for a more personal touch... Cool, right...

    • xriotdotbiz lm profile image

      xriotdotbiz lm 4 years ago

      These are great small storage/security ideas, and not just for dorms either.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 4 years ago from California

      My grandaughter just moved into the dorms a few weeks ago. We tried our best to advise her on security for her stuff, but not sure how much of it will stick. I think having one of these safes would have been much better...but hey, her birthday is around the corner so now I know what to get her :)

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      I wish I would have had one of these handy contraptions when I was in college! Great info!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 5 years ago

      Some really good points here. I think it's best to have lock boxes you can hide under bed or some other place. So true - just never know who your roommate might invite over...

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      When I lived in a dorm (back in 1964 . . .) no one owned anything worth stealing. I received my first radio as a graduation present when I was 21.

    • nicks44 profile image

      nicks44 5 years ago

      This is a good question, still I am unable to answer it, during my college years I lived with my aunt at her sick mansion. But I recon I would have kept them under some kind of lock if the situation demanded this!

    • Deral18 profile image

      Deral18 5 years ago

      I had a lockbox while I was away at college, and it made me feel a lot safer to have my valuables in there.

    • kburns421 lm profile image

      kburns421 lm 5 years ago

      This is great advice. I had a small safe attached to my bed and hidden under it when I was living in a dorm, and I had my own bedroom that locked! I still wanted to be safe though because sometimes I'd leave it unlocked for a few minutes to run and do laundry or something, and I didn't trust every single person coming into the apartment. Great lens.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Great lens and a very helpful item for college students!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Love the lockboxes idea.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 5 years ago

      Excellent resource for the new college year..

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 5 years ago

      When I went to boarding school (long time ago) stuff like this didn't exist. I would probably have chosen the Lock ´N Roll version.