These days when college kids pack up to go off to school, they generally don't go empty handed. They could be taking such campus essentials as stereos, typewriters, TVs, personal computers, cameras and more.

But before all these expensive personal items leave home, you should take a few precautions to ensure they will come back again. While most campuses may not be hotbeds of crime, problems can and do occur, and it helps to be prepared.First, there's insurance. If you own a home, says the Western Insurance Information Service, you should know that most homeowners policies provide insurance coverage for most - if not all - items students take to college, even if the students stay in a dorm.

Typically, a homeowner's policy will cover property stolen away from home, up to a limit of 10 percent of the contents coverage.

For example, if your home is insured for $75,000, your contents are covered for $38,000. Which means that your students' belongings away from home are covered up to $3,800 - minus the policy's deductible.

Some companies provide separate coverage for computers. Coverage may be up to $5,000, but it may not apply if the computer is not at the residence. There may also be a dollar limit on some kinds of personal property such as jewelry, watches, cash or furs. Check with your insurance agent to determine the specifics of your policy.

There are also steps your student can take to reduce the chances of crime:

- Have all valuable property engraved with an identifying number and registered for Operation ID. Police can plug the numbers of the stolen items into a crime computer and track stolen property. Simply having the property engraved provides some protection, since marked items are less likely to be stolen.

- Don't forget to make a list of the items, engraved numbers and locations of each item and keep the list in a safe place or back at home.

- Students should lock their doors whenever they leave their rooms, even if they're just doing down the hall to visit with friends. Thieves only need a few minutes to get in and out of a room.

- Don't store cash and other valuables in obvious places. If possible, the rooms should be arranged so that stereo and TV are not easily visible from windows - especially if the room is on the first or second floor.