Don't Be a Victim

Personal and Home Safety

Checklist for Violence Prevention

Do my family and I...

  • Understand the dangers of weapons, especially firearms, and how to prevent accidents?
  • Talk about the costs ? personal and financial ? of violence?
  • Think carefully about the kinds of entertainment we watch and hear?
  • Know and practice ways to settle disputes without violence?
  • Understand and practice basic self-protection strategies?

Do my neighbors and I...

  • Know each other reasonably well?
  • Work together to make our neighborhoods safe for children?
  • Agree on how and when to step in to prevent childrens' quarrels from becoming violent?
  • Discuss how we feel about weapons, including firearms, and what rules and standards we agree on?
  • Help each other by joining and taking an active role in Block Clubs and Neighborhood Watch?
  • Know that there are positive ways for our children to spend their time and energy after school?
  • Identify, discuss, and solve (or get help to solve) troubling conditions in our area?
  • Work with police, school officials, civic groups, and others to address larger issues for the community?

Does my community...

  • Have and enforce sound laws and regulations for secure weapons storage and against weapons violence?
  • Provide safe ways for residents to dispose of unwanted weapons?
  • Actively provide resources and know-how to help residents learn how to solve problems without violence?
  • Provide mentoring and other outreach services to troubled youth and families?
  • Enlist young people in addressing violence problems?
  • Coordinate community groups to develop comprehensive anti-violence strategies and plans?
  • Offer an attractive array of both family-oriented and youth-focused events?
  • Have clear standards that reject violence as a presence in the community?

Crime Prevention for People with Disabilities

A physical disability ? impaired vision, hearing, or mobility ? doesn't prevent you from being a victim of crime. Common sense actions can reduce your risk.

  • Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, or waiting for the bus or subway.
  • Send a message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
  • Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk.
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants, or stores that are open and accessible.
  • Avoid establishing predictable activity patterns. Most of us have daily routines, but never varying them may increase your vulnerability to crime.

At Home

  • Put good locks on all your doors. Police recommend double-cylinder, deadbolt locks, but make sure you can easily use the locks you install.
  • Install peepholes on front and back doors at your eye level. This is especially important if you use a wheelchair.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Watchful neighbors who look out for you as well as themselves are a frontline defense against crime.
  • If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend record a message ? giving your name, address, and type of disability to use in emergencies. Keep the tape in a recorder next to your phone.
  • Ask your police department to conduct a free home security survey to help identify your individual needs.

Out and About

  • If possible, go with a friend.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through vacant lots, wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket. If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked snugly between you and the inside of the chair.
  • If you use a knapsack, make sure it is securely shut.
  • Always carry your medical information in case of an emergency.
  • Consider keeping a cellular phone or installing a CB radio in your vehicle. On Public Transportation
  • Use well-lighted, busy stops. Stay near other passengers.
  • Stay alert. Don't doze or daydream.
  • If someone harasses you, make a loud noise or say "Leave me alone." If that doesn't work, hit the emergency signal on the bus or train.

Take a Stand!

  • Join, or help organize, a Neighborhood Watch group. Make sure their meetings are accessible to people with disabilities. For example, do they need a sign language interpreter? Can individuals who use walkers, crutches, or wheelchairs enter the meeting place?
  • Work with local law enforcement to improve responses to all victims or witnesses of crime. Role-play how people with disabilities can handle threatening situations.
  • Work with a rehabilitation center or advocacy groups to offer a presentation to schools and other community organizations on the needs and concerns of individuals with disabilities.

Don't Leave Your Street Sense at Home When You Travel

  • Use traveler's checks and credit cards instead of cash whenever possible. Take only those credit cards you need.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or from trouser pocket. Better still, wear a money pouch underneath your clothing.
  • Be alert for pickpockets in crowded areas like airline, bus and train terminals, major tourist attractions and public transportation.
  • Don't look distracted or lost. Walk confidently and stay alert to what's happening around you.
  • Stay alert for staged mishaps, like someone bumping into you or spilling a drink, a stranger offering to snap a family photo or a pedestrian jumping in front of the car and falling so you leap out to investigate.

Before You Go

  • Plan ahead. If you're traveling by car, get maps and plan your route. Have the car and tires checked out before you leave.
  • Leave copies of the numbers of your passport, driver's license, credit cards and traveler's checks with a friend in case you need to replace them.
  • Put lights and a radio on timers to create the illusion that someone is at home when you go away. Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions. Stop the mail and newspapers or ask a neighbor to take them in.

Once You're There

  • When you check into a hotel or motel, check out the locks. Look for deadbolts or solid doors with peepholes. FYI... the new coded electronic cards are safer than ordinary key locks.
  • Be sure your luggage is locked. Keep it close to you at ? all times.
  • Keep valuable in a hotel safe or safe deposit box. Better still, leave them at home.
  • Ask the hotel staff or police about the neighborhood's safety and what areas to avoid.
  • Lock belongings in your suitcase or keep them out of sight.
  • Don't display guest room keys in public or carelessly leave them on restaurant tables, at the swimming pool, or other places where they can be easily stolen.
  • Immediately report any crime to the police.

Don't Let Your Guard Down Just Because You Live in the Country

Rural communities have their own unique crime problems - like theft of crops, timber, livestock, and expensive farm equipment. Vandals do more than break mailboxes, they can destroy crops and fields. Alcohol and drug abuse problems plague rural youth as well as those in the suburbs and cities. And of course, crimes like burglary, rape, assault, and auto theft happen in rural areas, but less frequently than in cities.

Invest some time and money in prevention now. What's the payoff? Better security around your property, less worry about crime and your family's safety.

Be a good neighbor - when you're out and about, keep an eye on neighbors' homes, livestock, and equipment. Tell them and the sheriff or police about anything that makes you uneasy or suspicious.

Check the Doors and Locks

  • Make sure outside doors - in your home and outbuildings - are solid wood or metal and have dead bolt locks.
  • Use the locks!
  • Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available locks or with a broomstick or wooden dowel in the track to jam the door in case someone tries to pry it open. Insert screws in the upper track going into the fixed frame, to prevent anyone from lifting the door from its track.
  • Secure double-hung windows by sliding bolt or nail through a hole drilled at a downward angle in each top corner of the inside sash and part way through the outside sash. Secure basement windows well.

Check the Outside

  • Keep your house, driveway, barns, and other buildings well-lighted at night. Use timers that automatically turn on outside lights when it gets dark.
  • Consider motion sensors that set off lights or alarms.
  • Prune back shrubbery that hides doors, windows, lights, and would-be burglars.
  • Keep your fences in good repair. Secure all access roads with gates or cables stretched between posts cemented in the ground. Make them visible with flags or streamers.
  • Warn thieves that you're on the alert with "No Trespassing," "No Hunting," and other signs around your property.

Mark Equipment and Livestock

  • Operation Identification - marking tools, guns, and equipment with a permanent identification number such as driver's license or Social Security - has helped reduce theft in many rural areas. Work with law enforcement to determine the best methods, and make it a community project.
  • To help stop modern rustlers, tattoo all livestock (usually on the ears). Although it's easier to use eartags or neck chains, these can be removed. Mark young stock soon after birth.
  • Take regular counts of all livestock.

Protect Your Equipment

  • Secure gas pumps, gas tanks, storage bins, and grain elevators with sturdy padlocks or dead bolts. Keep small equipment - like mowers, bikes, snowmobiles - locked in a barn or garage. Keep guns locked and unloaded in a secure place away from curious children and would-be thieves.
  • Never leave keys in vehicles or farm equipment.
  • Always lock your trucks and other vehicles when they're not in use. And don't leave tools in the open back of a pick-up truck or in an unsecured truck bed toolbox.
  • Don't leave major equipment in a field overnight. Lock it in a barn or shed near the house, or park where it can be seen from your house or a neighbor's.
  • If machines must be left out for long periods of time, disable them by removing the rotor, distributor, or battery.

Guard Your Crops

  • Store harvested crops in protected and locked locations.
  • Consider marking grain, hay, or similar crops with nontoxic confetti that is easily removed by storage or processing facilities.
  • Keep a record of your valuable timber. Mark each with a paint stripe.
  • Keep storage areas neat and well-organized so that any theft will be noticed immediately. This also warns potential thieves that the owner is watchful.
  • Check employees' references. Before they start, talk about your crime prevention measures.

Help Your Neighbors

  • Get together with others in the community to start a Neighborhood or Farm Watch group. Involve all ages, and work with law enforcement. Recruit from churches and civic groups. Use CB radios or cellular phones to patrol and report suspicious activities to the sheriff or police.
  • When you go away, stop delivery of your mail or newspapers or ask a neighbor to pick them up. You want to create the illusion that someone's at home and following everyday routines. Have neighbors check your property, and return the favor when they leave on business or vacation trips.

Take a Stand

  • Ask equipment dealers and farm suppliers to display crime prevention information.
  • If your school district doesn't have an alcohol, drug, and crime prevention curriculum in place, help start one.
  • Check out recreational opportunities for teens - work with schools, 4-H, or Future Farmers to fill the gaps, both after school and on weekends.
  • Educate young people about the hazards of operating farm machinery and being around livestock. For example, tractors are involved in 69 percent of farm machinery deaths, and young people raised on farms often operate these machines at early ages.

Don't Make It Easy For a Thief To Steal Your Wheels

One vehicle is stolen every 20 seconds in the United States. Stolen cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles cost victims time and money - and increase everyone's insurance premiums. They're also often used to commit other crimes.

The Basic Prevention Policy

  • Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you're away from it, even for "just a minute".
  • Always roll up the windows and lock the car, even if it's in front of your home.
  • Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk or at least out of sight. Buy radios, tape and CD players that can be removed and locked in the trunk.
  • Park in busy, well-lighted areas.
  • Carry the registration and insurance card with you. Don't leave personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
  • When you pay to park in a lot or garage, leave just the ignition key with the attendant. Make sure no personal information is attached. Do the same when you take your car for repairs.

Add Extra Protection

  • Each the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the windows, doors, fenders, and trunk lid. This helps discourage professional thieves who have to either remove or replace etched parts before selling the car. Copy the VIN and your tag number on a card and keep it in a safe place. If your vehicle is stolen, the police need this information.
  • Install a mechanical locking device - commonly called clubs, collars, or j-bars - that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees.
  • Investigate security systems if you live in a high-theft area or drive an automobile that's an attractive target for thieves. You may get a discount on your auto insurance.
  • Look into CAT (Combat Auto Theft) and HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) partnership programs where individuals voluntarily register their cars with the police, and allow the police to stop by during certain hours when they normally would not be driving (such as midnight to 5a.m.). All participants display decals in a designated area on their vehicles.

What About Carjacking?

Carjacking - stealing a car by force - has captured headlines in the last few years. Statistically, your chances of being a carjacking victim are very slim and preventative actions can reduce the risk even more.
  • Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside before getting in.
  • When driving, keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up at all times.
  • Be especially alert at intersections, gas stations, ATMs, shopping malls, convenience and grocery stores - all are windows of opportunity for carjackers.
  • Park in well-lighted areas with good visibility, close to walkways, stores, and people.
  • If the carjacker has a weapon, give up the car with no questions asked. Your life is worth more than a car.

Beware of The "Bump and Rob"

It works like this. A car, usually with a driver and at least one passenger, rear-ends or "bumps" you in traffic. You get out to check the damage. The driver or one of the passengers jumps in your car and drives off.

If you're bumped by another car, look around before you get out. Make sure there are other cars around, check out the car that's rear-ended you and who's in it. If the situation makes you uneasy, stay in the car and insist on moving to a police station or busy, well-lighted area to exchange information.

Be on the Lookout

  • If your car's stolen, report it to the police immediately. Also, report abandoned cars to the local agency that handles their removal.
  • When buying a used car from an individual or a dealer, make sure you have the proper titles, that the VIN number is intact, and the "federal sticker" is on the inside of the driver's door. That sticker should match the VIN.
  • Suggest that any dealer, rental car agency, or auto repair shop you use offer auto theft prevention information in the waiting rooms.
  • If joy riding is a problem in your community, work to improve recreational programs and job opportunities for young people.

Family Vacation Fun and Safety

Planning a family vacation? Whether your destination is Disney World, Denver, or Denmark, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. Making the trip fun and enjoyable for everyone is key; that's what it's all about. But just as important to the success of your trip will be steps you take to make it a safe one.

Before You Leave

Preventing crime during family travel starts with making sure your home is protected while you're away. The key is to make it look like you never left:
  • Keep shades and blinds in their normal position.
  • Don't stop mail and newspapers, ask a neighbor to pick them up every day.
  • Put timers on several household lights so they turn on and off at appropriate times.
  • Arrange to have grass mowed while you're gone.
  • Make sure all your door and window locks are in working order - and use them. Activate your home alarm (if you have one).
  • You might even leave a radio on - or put it on a timer. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway overnight - anything that might suggest someone's home. And don't forget to lock all doors and windows when you leave.

Packing for Prevention

Preparing for a family trip requires a lot of planning. You need to decide where you're going, where you'll stay and how you'll get from one place to another. You also need to decide what to take with you. Planning can decrease the chances of crime joining you on your journey. Some tips on what to take:
  • Clean out your wallet or purse before you go; take only essential credit cards. Plan to use credit cards or traveler's checks instead of cash wherever possible.
  • Carry your purse close to your body, or your wallet in an inside front pocket. Better yet, take "fanny packs" or wear a money pouch under your clothes.
  • Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to getting robbed.
  • Expensive designer luggage can draw unneeded attention to your belongings. Pack your things in inconspicuous bags.
  • Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage. And keep anything of value such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on that stays with you.
  • If you are going on an extended vacation, consider shipping large bags to your destination in advance. For the return trip, mail bulky new purchases home, or ask merchants to do it for you.

Out and About

Your home is secured and you're packed. Now it's time to go. While you and your family are traveling, it's important to remember that tourists make tempting targets for thieves. Often lost or distracted, weighed down with bags, and carrying cameras, tickets and money, unsuspecting travelers attract crime like a magnet.

The best advise for you and your family is to do all you can to blend in with the crowd.
  • Don't display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags, and other items that might draw attention.
  • Check maps before you go out so you can tour confidently.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets at all times - no shortcuts.
  • Always lock your car when it's parked, even if the stop is brief. Keep valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk. Don't advertise that you're a tourist by leaving maps and guidebooks on the seat or dashboard - keep them in the glove compartment.
  • Traveling safely with your family also means sticking together and keeping an eye on your children at all times. Make sure they know where you are staying (name and address), and teach them what to do if they get lost or separated. You might want to agree on a meeting place, just in case. And by all means, make sure your kids know not to accept rides or favors from strangers.
Make your family vacation a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Home Security: Invest In It Now

If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge?

You may think this is a good idea, but guess what? If you can break in, so can a burglar!

One out of ten homes will be burglarized this year. For a small amount of time and money you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of being a victim.

Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. Good locks - and good neighbors who watch out for each other - can be big deterrents to burglars.

Check The Locks

Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?
  • Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
  • Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the slide door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
  • Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" your windows by drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
  • Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
  • When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.

Check The Doors

A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.
  • All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
  • If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
  • Install a peephole or wide angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don't keep out intruders.

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.
  • Keep your yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide doors or windows. Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to an upper-level window.
  • If you travel, create the illusion that you're at home by getting some timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
  • Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And don't let your mail pile up! Call the post office to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick it up.
  • Make a list of your valuables - VCRs, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take photos of the items, list their serial numbers and description. Check with law enforcement about engraving your valuables through Operation Identification.
  • Ask local law enforcement for a free home security survey.

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 you buy so you can decide what level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established company and check references before signing a contract.
  • Learn how to use your system properly! Don't "cry wolf" by setting off false alarms. People will stop paying attention and you'll probably be fined.
  • Some less expensive options... a sound-detecting socket that plugs into a light fixture and makes the light flash when it detects certain noises, motion sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone approaches, or lights with photo cells that turn on when it's dark and off when it's light.

Burglars Do More Than Steal

Burglars can commit rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone coming home or pick a home that is occupied.
  • If something looks questionable - a slit screen, a broken window or an open door - don't go in. Call the police from a neighbor's house or a public phone.
  • At night, 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 phone and call the police.
  • If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
  • Gun 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.
There's More You Can Do

Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one doesn't exist, you can start one with help from local law enforcement.
Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away from home now, say "I'm not available right now."
Work with neighbors and local government to organize community clean-ups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to crime.

Lock Crime Out of Your Home

Making your home safer from crime doesn't always mean having to install expensive alarms ? effective home security starts with properly locked doors and windows and visible, well- lighted entryways.

Exterior Doors

All exterior doors should be either metal or solid wood. For added security, use strong door hinges on the inside of the door, with non-removable or hidden pins. Every entry door should be well lighted and have a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is outside without opening the door.

Locks

Strong, reliable locks are essential to effective home security. Always keep doors and windows locked ? even a five-minute trip to the store is long enough for a burglar to enter your home.

Use quality keyed knobs as well as deadbolts ? deadbolts can withstand the twisting, turning, prying, and pounding that regular keyed knobs can't.

When choosing a deadbolt, look for such features as a bolt that extends at least one inch when in the locked position, to resist ramming and kicking; hardened steel inserts to prevent the bolt from being sawed off, and a reinforced strike plate with extra long mounting screws to anchor the lock effectively.

Most deadbolts are single-cylinder; they operate from the outside with a key and from the inside with a thumb latches. Double-cylinder deadbolts require a key to open the lock from both outside and inside your home. These locks are especially effective for doors with glass within 40 inches of the lock ? an intruder cannot break the glass and unlock the door by reaching through.

Some jurisdictions do not allow these locks, check with your local law enforcement or building code authorities before installing a double cylinder deadbolt. As one alternative, security glazing can be applied to glass panels in or near the door, or shatterproof glass can be installed, though these options can be expensive.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors can offer easy entry into your home.To improve security on existing sliding glass doors, you can install keyed locking devices that secure the door to the frame; adjust the track clearances on the doors so they can't be pushed out of their tracks; or put a piece of wood or a metal bar in the track of the closed door to prevent the door from opening even if the lock is jimmied or removed.

Windows

Most standard double-hung windows have thumb turn locks between the two window panels. Don't rely on these ? they can be pried open or easily reached through a broken pane. Instead, install keyed locking devices to prevent the window from being raised from the outside, but make sure everyone in the house knows where to find the keys in case of an emergency. Some jurisdictions have restrictions on this type of lock ? check with your local law enforcement before you install them.

An easy, inexpensive way to secure your windows is to use the "pin" trick. Drill an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window partially into the frame of the upper window.Then insert a nail or eyebolt.The window can't be opened until you remove the nail. Make a second set of holes with the windows partly opened so you can have ventilation without intruders.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most cost-effective deterrents to burglary. Indoor lighting gives the impression that a home is occupied. If you are going to be away from your home, consider using automatic timers to switch interior lights on and off at preset times.

Outdoor lighting can eliminate hiding places. Install exterior lighting near porches, rear and side doorways, garage doors, and all other points of entry. Entryways to your home always should be well lighted. Place lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken.Aim some lights away from the house so you can see if anyone is approaching, or install motion- sensing lights, which turn on automatically as someone approaches.

Shrubs and Landscaping

Your home's walkways and landscaping should direct visitors to the main entrance and away from private areas.The landscaping should provide maximum visibility to and from your house.Trim shrubbery that could conceal criminal activity near doors and windows. Provide light on areas of dense shrubs and trees that could serve as hiding places. Cut back tree limbs that could help thieves climb into windows, and keep yard fencing low enough too avoid giving criminals places to hide.

Safety Checklist for Apartments

Check Out Your Apartment

Does Your...
  • Entry door have a deadbolt lock and peephole?
  • Sliding glass door have a wooden rod in the track so it can't be opened and pins in the overhead frame so it can't be lifted out?
  • Landlord or building manager tightly control all keys?
  • For extra security, leave a radio playing or a light on while you are gone. Always tell neighbors and the building manager when you leave for a business trip or vacation.

Check Out Your Building

  • Is there some kind of control over who enters and leaves the building?
  • Are walkways, entrances, parking areas, elevators, hallways, stairways, laundry rooms, and storage areas well-lighted, 24 hours a day?
  • Are fire stairs locked from the stairwell side about the ground floor, so you can exit but no one can enter?
  • Are mailboxes in a well-traveled, well-lighted area and do they have good locks?
  • Are things well maintained--are burnt-out lights fixed properly, shrubs trimmed, trash and snow removed?

Check Out the Neighbors

  • Get to know your neighbors. Join or organize an Apartment Watch group so neighbors can look out for and help each other.
  • If you live in a large building or complex, think about a tenant patrol that watches for crime around the building, provides escort services for the elderly and handicapped, and monitors coming and going in the lobby.
  • Work with landlords to sponsor social events for tenants--a Sunday breakfast, a picnic, a Halloween Party.
  • Look beyond problems to root causes--does your building need a better playground, a social evening for teens, a tenant association, need landscaping, a basketball hoop?
  • Work with the landlord for changes that make everyone proud of where they live.

Street Sense: It's Common Sense

Basic Street Sense

Wherever you are - on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, waiting for a bus or subway - stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.

Send the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.

Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.

Know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, and restaurants, or stores that are open late.

On Foot - Day and Night

  • Stick to well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Don't flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket.
  • Try to use automated teller machines in the daytime. Have your card in hand and don't approach the machine if you're uneasy about people nearby.
  • Don't wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If you're scared, yell for help.
  • Have to work late? Make sure there are others in the building, and ask someone - a colleague or security guard - to walk you to your car or transit stop.

On Wheels

  • Keep your car in good running condition. Make sure there's enough gas to get where you're going and back.
  • Always roll up the windows and lock car doors, even if you're coming right back. Check inside and out before getting in.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas. Be especially alert in lots and underground parking garages.
  • If you think someone is following you, don't head home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station, gas station, or other open business to get help.
  • Don't pick up hitchhikers. Don't hitchhike.
  • Leave enough space to pull around the vehicle in front of you when you're stopped at a light or stop sign. If anyone approaches your vehicle in a threatening manner, pull away.
  • Beware of the "bump and rob." It works like this: A car rear ends or bumps you in traffic. You get out to check the damage and the driver or one of the passengers jumps into your car and drives off. Look around before you get out; make sure other cars or around. If you are uneasy, stay in the car and insist on moving to a busy place or police station.

On Buses and Subways

  • Use well-lighted, busy stops.
  • Stay alert! Don't doze or daydream.
  • If someone harasses you, don't be embarrassed. Loudly say "Leave me alone!" If that doesn't work, hit the emergency device.
  • Watch who gets off with you. If you feel uneasy, walk directly to a place where there are other people.

Road Rage

People are losing their lives on the highway every day because of "road rage." A majority of drivers get angry when someone cuts them off or tailgates them. About 70 percent of drivers get angry at slow drivers. Violent incidents on the road recorded by police have increased 51 percent over the last five years.
  • Don't allow someone to draw you into a test of wills on the highway. If someone is tailgating you, pull into the slow lane and let them pass. Don't take traffic problems personally.
  • Avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver.
  • Don't make obscene gestures. Use your horn sparingly, as a warning, not an outburst.
  • Reduce stress by allowing ample time for your trip and creating a relaxing environment in your car.
  • Driving is a cooperative activity. If you're aggressive, you may find other drivers trying to slow you down or get in your way.
  • If you witness aggressive driving, stay out of the way and contact authorities when you can. Consider carrying a cellular phone in your car to contact police in the event of an encounter with an aggressive driver.

If Someone Tries To Rob You or Take Your Car

  • Don't resist. Give up your property, don't give up your life.
  • Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from becoming victims.

The Hidden Crime: Domestic Violence

One out of every four women in this country will suffer some kind of violence at the hands of her husband or boyfriend.

Very few will tell anyone--not a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or the police.

Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life--all cultures, all income groups, all ages, all religions. They share feelings of helplessness, isolation, guilt, fear, and shame.

All hope it won't happen again, but often it does.

Are You Abused? Does the Person You Love...

  • "Track" all of your time?
  • Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful?
  • Discourage your relationships with family and friends?
  • Prevent you from working or attending school?
  • Criticize you for little things?
  • Anger easily when drinking or on drugs?
  • Control all finances and force you to account in detail for what you spend?
  • Humiliate you in front of others?
  • Destroy personal property or sentimental items?
  • Hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite you or the children?
  • Use or threaten to use a weapon against you?
  • Threaten to hurt you or the children?
  • Force you to have sex against your will?
If you find yourself saying yes, it's time to get help.

If You Are Hurt, What Can You Do?

There are no easy answers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.
  • Call the police or sheriff. Assault, even by family members, is a crime. The police often have information about shelters and other agencies that help victims of domestic violence.
  • Leave, or have someone come and stay with you. Go to a battered women's shelter--call a crisis hotline in your community or a health center to locate a shelter. If you believe that you and your children are in danger, leave immediately.
  • Get medical attention from your doctor or a hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to photograph your injuries and keep detailed records in case you decide to take legal action.
  • Contact your family court for information about a civil protection order that does not involve criminal charges or penalties.

Don't Ignore The Problem

  • Talk to someone. Part of the abuser's power comes from secrecy. Victims are often ashamed to let anyone know about intimate family problems. Go to a friend or neighbor, or call a domestic violence hotline to talk to a counselor.
  • Plan ahead and know what you will do if you are attacked again. If you decide to leave, choose a place to go; set aside some money. Put important papers together--marriage license, birth certificates, check books--in a place where you can get them quickly.
  • Learn to think independently. Try to plan for the future and set goals for yourself.

Have You Hurt Someone In Your Family?

  • Accept the fact that you violent behavior will destroy you family. Be aware that you break the law when you physically hurt someone.
  • Take responsibility for you actions and get help.
  • When you feel tension building, get away. Work off the angry energy through a walk, a project, or a sport.
  • Call a domestic violence hotline or health center and ask about counseling and support groups for people who batter.

The High Costs of Domestic Violence

  • Men and women who follow their parents' example and use violence to solve conflicts are teaching the same destructive behavior to their children.
  • Jobs can be lost or careers stalled because of injuries, arrests, or harassments.
  • Lives are lost when violence results in death.

Take a Stand!

  • Reach out to someone you believe is a victim of family violence, or to someone you think is being abusive. Don't give up easily--change takes time. Ending the family's isolation is a critical first step.
  • Urge organizations and businesses to raise community awareness by hosting speakers on domestic violence, launching public education campaigns, and raising funds for shelters and hotlines.
  • Ask the local newspaper, radio station, or television station to examine the problem and publicize resources in the community through special features and forums.
  • Most communities offer resources for victims of family violence. Check your telephone directory or ask a law enforcement agency.

Use Common Sense to Spot a Con

It's not always easy to spot con artists. They're smart, extremely persuasive, and aggressive.They invade your home through the telephone, computer, and the mail; advertise in well-known newspapers and magazines; and come to your door. They're well mannered, friendly, and helpful, at first. Most people think they're too smart to fall for a scam. But con artists rob all kinds of people, from investment counselors and doctors to teenagers and senior citizens, of billions of dollars every year. Cons, scams, and frauds disproportionately victimize seniors with false promises of miracle cures, financial security, and luxury prizes. One easy rule to remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

You Can Protect Yourself

  • Never give a caller your credit card, phone card, Social Security number, or bank account number over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
  • Beware of 900 numbers. Remember, if you call a 900 number to claim a "prize," you end up paying for the call. Make sure you understand all charges before making the call.
  • Take your time and shop around. Don't let an aggressive con artist pressure you into making a decision. Demand information in writing by mail. Get a second opinion.Ask your family, friends, and neighbors what they think about certain offers.
  • Stay informed about current scams in your area. Contact your attorney general's office, district attorney's office, the Better Business Bureau, or local consumer affairs office for more information.
  • Remember, you have the right, the ability, and the power to say no! If the caller on the other end of the phone makes you wary, be assertive and end the conversation. Cons know that the longer they keep you on the phone, the higher their chance of success.They often prey on the trusting, polite nature of many people or on their excitement over getting a supposed prize or bargain. By saying no and hanging up the phone, you can prevent a crime from taking place.

Be a Wise Consumer

  • Don't buy health products or treatments that include a promise for a quick and dramatic cure, testimonials, imprecise and nonmedical language, appeals to emotion instead of reason, or a single product that cures many ills.
  • Look closely at offers that come in the mail. Con artists often use official-looking forms and language and bold graphics to lure victims. If you receive items in the mail that you didn't order, you are under no obligation to pay for them.You are free to throw them out, return them, or keep them.
  • Beware of cheap home repair work that would otherwise be expensive.The con artist may do only part of the work, use shoddy materials and untrained workers, or simply take your deposit and never return. Never pay with cash. Never accept offers from drive-up workers who "just happen" to be in the neighborhood. If they're reliable, they'll come back after you check them out.

If Someone Rips You Off

  • Report con games to the police, your city or state consumer protection office, district attorney's office, or a consumer advocacy group. Don't be embarrassed. Some very, very astute people have been taken in by these pros!
  • Call the National Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060, or visit their Web site at www.fraud.org for current fraud alerts.
  • Some Typical Cons Targeted at Older People
Many cons choose to victimize older people. Con artists devise complex offers that confuse their targets and eventually persuade them to take up these offers.

Don't let this happen to you:

The phone rings and the caller tells you that you've won a new car. In order to claim the prize you need to mail a check to cover the taxes and delivery of the car. Weeks later, the phone rings again. You learn that the original prize company has gone out of business. But the caller tells you not to worry because his/her company has purchased the assets of the defunct company. All you need to do now is send another check to the new company to cover the costs of the legal transactions and for immediate delivery of the car. The check gets mailed, but the prize never arrives.
A mail offer, newspaper, magazine, or television ad catches your eye. It promises a quick cure for cancer, arthritis, memory loss, back pain, or other ailments. "It's an absolute miracle," one testimony reads. "I feel a million times better." You mail your check for a six-week supply of this miracle cure and wind up with a jar of Vitamin C, placebos, or even worse, pills or tonics that have not been medically tested and could worsen your condition or react negatively with the prescription medication you regularly take.

Vehicle Burglary - A Crime of Opportunity

Vehicle Burglary is most often a crime of opportunity. Our own carelessness is often causing our vehicles to be broken into as well as stolen; however, you can minimize your chances of being a victim by taking away the opportunity.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • LOCK your vehicle and take the keys
  • PARK carefully in well lighted areas
  • USE anti-theft devices
  • CLEAN it out; do not leave anything in it
  • REMOVE the garage door opener
  • UTILIZE your garage to park in, if possible
  • MARK it; use an engraver to mark property
  • REPORT suspicious activity or persons to the Sheriff?s Department at 874-5115, for crimes in progress call 9-1-1.

Lock Up:

  • An unlocked car is an open invitation to a car thief. Lock up when you leave your car, and take the keys with you.
  • Lock the trunk or tailgate.
  • Close all windows ? professional thieves have tools that unlock cars through the smallest openings.
  • Be sure vent or wind-wing windows are shut tight and locked.
  • Lock your car even if you are making a quick stop at the gas station, convenience store or mini-mall.
  • At night, park in well-lit areas with lots of people around when out running errands.
  • Turn wheels sharply toward the curb when parking, this makes it extra difficult for thieves to tow your car.

Items to Avoid Leaving in Your Vehicle and/or View:

  • Cellular phones and chargers
  • Pagers
  • Cd's
  • Purses/briefcases
  • Wallets
  • Back packs
  • Clothing
  • Laptops/cameras
  • Sports equipment/tools
  • Removable stereos including the removable face plates

Operation I.D.:

  • With an electric engraver, etch your driver?s license number (preceded by the letters ?CA?) on stereo equipment and other valuable items.
  • Record your vehicle identification number (located on a small metal plate on the dashboard of newer cars) and store it in a safe place.
  • Keep the vehicle registration in your wallet or purse, not in your car.
  • Use anti-theft devices
  • Consider the purchase and installation of security devices, such as:
  • Interior hood lock release.
  • Second ignition switch or ?kill switch? to prevent electrical current from reaching the coil distributor.
  • Fuel switch to prevent fuel from reaching the carburetor.
  • Locking devices for batteries, wheels, decks, etc.
  • Alarm device to activate a siren, horn or lights ? or all three ? to frighten the thief away.
  • Device that attaches to the steering wheel or brake pedal.

Working Safely at Home

Increasingly, businesses are allowing their employees to telecommute and entrepreneurs are running businesses from their homes. Offices are standard in many homes today and are equipped with the latest in computers, scanners, printers, faxes, and other expensive equipment. Remember, it is important to secure yourself and your equipment when you're working from home.
  • Install solid doors and good deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and use them.
  • Hang window treatments that obstruct the view into your office. You don't want to advertise what equipment you have.
  • Consider installing motion-sensored lighting that will come on if someone is walking around your yard.
  • Keep bushes and trees trimmed so that you can see into your yard and neighbors can see your house.
  • Install a wide-angle viewer in the door of your home office if it is detached from the main house.
  • Look into an alarm system. A basic system can be purchased for less than $100, plus a monthly monitoring fee.
  • Keep a cellular phone handy.
  • When meeting a client for the first time, arrange to meet in a public place, such as a coffee shop or the library ? not your home.
  • Let someone know when and with whom you have appointments.
  • Review your insurance policy ? almost all policies require an extra rider to cover a home office. In the event something does happen, you want to be covered.
  • Mark your equipment with identification numbers and keep an updated inventory list (with photos, if possible) in a home safe or a bank safe deposit box. It's a good idea to keep back-ups of your work in a secure, separate location as well.
  • Use the same caution with deliveries as businesses do. Anyone making a delivery to your home office should be properly identified before you open the door. Do not let the person enter your home.
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by: National Crime Prevention Council