Crime Prevention Tips

Be aware of the surroundings when walking down the street. Walk briskly and confidently.

At night, try to avoid walking alone, particularly after 9:00 p.m. Stick to main streets with as much car and foot traffic as possible. Avoid areas with excessive trees and bushes, dark streets, alleys, and other “shortcuts”.

Keep an arm’s length away from strangers. If you think someone suspicious is approaching you or following you, cross to the other side of the street and head for the nearest public place.

Know which stores and other public places are open along your route. Whether walking home, to work, or jogging, try to vary your route frequently.

When parking at night, try to park in well-lit spots. Lock your car door, and when returning to your car, have your keys ready.

Never hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers.

Know the full name of each person you date, his occupation, and where he lives.
Never invite a person whom you have met on the street, in a bar, or in another public place to be alone with you.

If you are a victim of rape, report a crime. Counseling, shelters, and other services are available to you, and you may prevent another person from being victimized.

Try to avoid walking alone on the street after 9:00 p.m. If you must walk alone at night, use well-lit roads, with as much car traffic as possible, and walk near the curb.

At night, avoid vacant lots, and areas with excessive trees and bushes.

When walking to your car at night, have your keys in your hand and be ready to open the door.

Try to avoid using ATMs late at night. If you must, try to pick an ATM in an attended location, such as a supermarket or mall. At the very least, make sure the ATM is well lit, and be aware of any people “loitering” in the area. Try to avoid going alone.

Before answering the door at home, check the peephole or side window to make sure you know your visitor.

Keep your doors locked when driving your car. If someone approaches your car while stopped, be prepared to step on the gas.

Don’t carry a purse loosely around your shoulder. Clutch it tightly under your arm or, better yet, avoid carrying a purse and keep a wallet in your pocket instead.

If you are robbed, obey the robber’s instructions. Keeping your cash in a separate money clip or pouch will allow you to hand it over without sacrificing your credit cards, identification, and personal papers. Try to memorize your robber’s physical features, clothing, motor vehicle, and direction of flight. Call the police from the nearest available telephone.

Keep cash to a minimum with frequent, irregular deposits or a “drop safe”. Use visible stickers or signs to advertise the cash control policy.

Install visible closed circuit television cameras near cash registers.

Keep the establishment well lit at night. Clear any obstructions that prevent someone on the street from seeing what is happening inside the store.

Designate a small bundle of cash “bait money”. Record the serial numbers of these bills and make sure this cash is given to robbers.

During a robbery, remember that a robber is a bundle of nerves and therefore, is very dangerous. Instruct employees to obey a robber’s instructions calmly and politely.
Have employees memorize a signal or “code” to alert each other to potential or actual robbers.

If robbed, try to memorize as much as possible about the robber’s description, including his vehicle and his direction of flight.

If you have been abused by, or are in fear of, your domestic partner or spouse, get help. The problem usually becomes worse if it is not addressed.

Report assault when it happens, even if you do not believe it to be “serious”. Police administrators cannot consider assaults that are not reported when they make decisions about how to allocate manpower and funds. If there is a problem with a bar, a household, a school, or any other place where assaults are likely to happen, the police need to know.

Do not allow yourself to be drawn into arguments about traffic or parking incidents. Keep calm when behind the wheel of your car. If another driver commits a violation or threatens you, take down his registration information and report it to the police. Hundreds of people are killed or assaulted each year because of “road rage”.

Unless they have security forces for that purpose, shop managers and clerks should not attempt to physically detain shoplifters. Most of the “Shop Owner/Patron” assaults began as shoplifting incidents. Instead, get a full description of the shoplifter and call the police. If he refuses to stay, let him go.

Check the Locks

  • In almost half of all residential burglaries, thieves simply breeze in through unlocked doors or unlocked windows.
  • Make sure every external door has a sturdy dead bolt lock installed.
  • Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor that you trust.

Check the Doors

  • A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking a car door but leaving the window down.
  • All outside doors should be metal or solid wood with a dead bolt. Install guards on windows to prevent them from being raised more than a few inches.
  • Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors in order to see who is outside without opening the door.
  • If living in an apartment building with a main entryway, make sure that security is enforced at the main door. Never prop open the door or let someone in behind you. Report residents who do this to the landlord.
  • When away from home, even for the evening, leave a light or two on (perhaps on a timer) as well as the television or radio.

Check the Outside

  • Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips:
  • Thieves hate bright lights; install outside lights and keep them on at night.
  • Prune back shrubbery so it does not hide doors or windows.
  • When traveling, create the illusion you are at home by getting timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas of your house. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
  • Don’t let mail and newspapers pile up. Call the post office and newspaper carrier to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick them up.

Consider an Alarm

  • Alarms can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables in your home, or live in an isolated area or one with a history of break-ins.
  • Check with several companies before buying an alarm so to determine what level of security best fits your needs.

Burglars do more than steal

  • Burglars commit rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone coming home or pick a home that is occupied.

When you arrive home, if something looks questionable, like a slit screen, a broken window or open door – do not go in. Call the police from a cell phone or a neighbor’s house.

If you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a telephone and call the police.

Guns are responsible for many accidental deaths in the home every year. If you choose to own a gun, learn how to store it and use it safely.

Light all entrances, including alleys, with vandal-proof fixtures. Leave lights on inside the establishment overnight and on weekends.

Glass doors should be made from burglar-resistant glass and should be well lit.

Keep weeds, shrubbery, and debris away from the doors and windows. Lock up tools and ladders that could invite a break-in or make a burglar’s job easier.

Install an alarm system, check it regularly, and investigate reasons behind any false alarms. Post a conspicuous notice that the property is protected by an alarm system.
Leave empty cash drawers open after hours.

Use a burglary-resistant safe; don’t trust a fire safe to keep burglars out.

Theft from Buildings

  • Office buildings should develop a comprehensive security policy involving all employees. The policy should include a prohibition against leaving expensive equipment, particularly laptop computers, unattended. Employees should be encouraged to question suspicious or unfamiliar people, or to report them to the security department.
  • Don’t leave expensive personal property in health club lockers. A better solution is a fanny pack or other strap-on carrier that you can keep with you at all times.
  • Retail establishments should provide individual lockers, with locks, for employee property. Leaving it behind the counter or in a “back room” is an invitation for theft.
  • Take extreme care of your personal property while shopping and dining. Keep it in sight, and never leave it unattended, not even for a minute.
  • Report all thefts, no matter how minor, to the police department. Greater reporting will allow us to identify and attack patterns and series of crimes.

Thefts from Motor Vehicles

  • The best and only way to prevent thefts from motor vehicles is never to leave valuables in your car unattended – particularly electronic goods such as cellular phones and laptop computers. Preventing the theft of car radios is more difficult. Some car stereo manufacturers make detachable faceplates or stereos that pull easily from the dashboard, allowing you to take it with you or lock it in the trunk.

Door locks and ignition keys are called “first layer” anti-theft devices. Of course, every vehicle has them. They offer no deterrent to a determined thief.

“Second layer” anti-theft devices provide the most protection for your dollar. These include:

  • Steering wheel locks – metal bars designed to prevent the steering wheel from turning. They do their job, and provide an excellent visual deterrent. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, steering wheel locks decrease the chances of theft by a factor of four.
  • Steering column collars – steel collars that fit around the steering wheel and prevent a thief from cracking open the ignition. They offer the same benefits as a steering wheel lock.
  • Audible alarms – triggered by motion or impact sensors. Thieves aren’t likely to stick around when they go off.
  • Theft deterrent decals – an inexpensive way to bluff a thief into thinking that your vehicle is protected by an alarm or other device.

“Third layer” anti-theft devices include “kill switches” that prevent the flow of electricity to the engine unless a special, hidden switch is activated, and “smart keys”, which are computer-coded keys that must be inserted before the vehicle will start.

Finally, “fourth layer” theft devices are electronic transmitters that allow the police to track a vehicle after it is stolen. While not very effective in preventing the original theft, these devices increase the chance of recovery. By the time the car is recovered, of course, it may be stripped or burned.

Other than theft devices, there are several precautions that can be taken to decrease the chances of auto theft.

  • Engrave the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the car on the front and rear windshields (on an edge) and on key engine parts. This will make it difficult for a thief to resell the vehicle or its parts.
  • Parking in a driveway or parking garage offers some deterrent to theft. Parking a car in a locked garage greatly decreases the chances of overnight theft.
  • If you must park on the street at night, try to park under a street light or otherwise in a well-lit area.
  • When parking at shopping malls or motels, try to park near the entrance.

Banks are swiftly replacing standard ATM cards with “Check Cards” – credit cards that deduct directly from your checking account. These check cards, while convenient, present a security problem. Thieves no longer need your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use this card. If a thief uses it like a credit card, he can drain your entire account by just forging your signature on credit card slips. If your ATM card has a credit card logo (such as Visa or MasterCard) on it, it can be used like a credit card. If you do not want this feature, notify your bank and have them send you an ATM-only card.

Keep your credit card numbers, and the telephone numbers of your credit card companies, at home and work. If your cards are stolen, call these numbers immediately and report the theft.

Try to avoid carrying more credit cards than you need at one time.

Never write your ATM card PIN number on the card or on a slip of paper in your wallet or purse.

Learn to recognize potential fraud scenarios. Any of the following activities almost certainly involves a scam:

  • Someone approaches you on the street claiming to have found money
  • Any circumstances in which you have to pay money in order to get money
  • Someone comes to your door, without notification, claiming to work for the gas company, electric company, water company, or cable company. Always ask for official identification and call the utility company to make sure the identification is valid. Do not let “utility impostors” into your home.
  • You receive an unsolicited telephone call from someone offering a great deal on some piece of merchandise
  • You’re notified in the mail that you’ve won a prize, but you have to pay money in order to claim it

An example would be where a citizen is going on vacation and they would like the Police Department to provide an extra patrol of their residential and/or business property. The request would be made in the following manner:

  • Call the Police Department at 620-6550.
  • Tell the Police Dispatcher you would like to make a patrol request.
  • Give your name and the address you would like to receive the patrols.
  • Give the date the request should begin and your return date.
  • List any vehicles and person(s) authorized to be there during your absence.
  • Provide the name and telephone number of an emergency contact.