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Community Crime Prevention

Everyone's Doing It: Planning a Successful Community Crime Prevention Project

Are you tired of walking by playgrounds that are filled with trash and broken equipment? You know kids won't play there because it's such a mess. There is something you can do. You can make a difference by cleaning up that playground as a community crime prevention project.

There are hundreds of problems teens can solve to make their school, neighborhood, and community safer. Teens have talents and skills that can be put to use -- if you're an artist you can paint a mural to replace graffiti; if you like sports you can coach a team in your neighborhood; if you are a listener or a problem solver you can help settle arguments. You just need to fit your skill to a problem you want to solve.

Either find a group or get one together. Join an existing group like an after-school program at your school, Boys & girls clubs, 4-H, Scouts, YMCA or YWCA, or Camp Fire. If you need help finding what's around, talk to someone in your school, place of worship, police station, or recreation center. Whoever you work with, your project will need a plan if it's to be a success. This brochure will give you some ideas about setting up a helpful plan.

Steps for Success

  • Decide what your project is going to be.
  • List the problems that you and your group believe you can change in your neighborhood or school. For example, are there too many fights in your school? Are kids doing drugs? Has there been an increase in drunk driving incidents? Choose one problem. (At this point you may want to look around your community and see what people are already doing. Maybe you can work with another group.)
  • Plan what you're going to do and each step you're going to take to get there.
  • Decide who's going to do what, and set deadlines for completing each step. Split up the work evenly. This way no one will get burned out. Remember to plan for how you're going to be able to tell if your project was successful. Are there fewer fights at school? Has the school remained free of graffiti?

Get What You Need

Basically, you need people to do the work, materials (remember to include things like transportation, meeting space, food, photocopies), money, publicity, and the support of adults. Look to local businesses, foundations, parents, the school, community organizations, or places of worship to provide help.

Get moving on your project.

Check your progress once your project is underway.

You want to be able to see if what you are doing is working. Ask people what they think -- do they feel safer with less arguing in school? Ask your friends how they think it's going. Or count things. If your project is supposed to reduce fights in your school, you can count how many fights there were in a typical week before your project began and how may there are now.

Get the message out.

And when you've got things moving -- share your success in your school or local newspaper. Then celebrate and thank everyone involved.
In Jefferson City, Missouri, teenagers audition to be in the cast of the Safety Kids program. They get to travel around to schools making presentations about drugs to other young people.

Take Action

Here are a few ideas of things you can do to improve your school and neighborhood:
  • Set up a group for teens to share problems and solutions.
  • Join a group that builds and renovates houses for low-income or homeless families.
  • Do peer counseling.
  • Start a teen court program in your school.
  • Film anti-crime commercials and deliver them to your local television station.
  • Clean-up and repair a playground or build a new one in an area that lacks one.
  • Be a tutor or mentor to a younger person.
  • Develop a "street smarts" section for your school's Web site.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter, preschool, or senior center.
  • Put on drug- and alcohol-free events to celebrate holidays or other special events.
  • Teach younger kids anti-violence or anti-drug strategies.
  • Put on art shows or performances with prevention themes.

Keeping Insider Information Inside

What is a company's most valuable property? It isn't buildings or equipment, but information - from computer files and training materials to budgets and product research.

When vital "insider" information leaves the organization improperly, everyone loses. Profits can drop, reputations can be damaged, employees can lose jobs, and morale can plummet.

"Inside" or Confidential Information Includes:

  • Organizational information - telephone directories, organizational charts, training materials, personnel files and policies, salary scales, performance evaluations, telephone and computer codes.
  • Financial - budget reports, sales and order volumes prior to public release, production and overhead costs, profit margins, payroll procedures.
  • Marketing - short and long-term strategies, customer lists, market research results.
  • Research and Development - technical and performance specifications, reports on research in progress, project code names, blueprints, test and system software.
  • Manufacturing and Production - vendor names, production levels, inventories, future plans and sites, product failure reports.
  • Put a lock on your company's information!

Steps You Can Take:

  • Think before talking about the details of your job in public places such as restaurants, airplanes, classrooms, gyms, and parties.
  • Know who's on the other end of the line -telephone, modem, or fax- before giving out any sensitive information. It could be a competitor or trade journalist looking for helpful employees who are too eager to give out information about their employer.
  • Keep your work area clear. When you will be gone for a few hours, or at the end of the day, put sensitive papers in a drawer or file cabinet.
  • Think about what's on a piece of paper before you toss it into the trash. If it's sensitive information, tear it up or use a shredder.
  • Challenge strangers who enter your work area unescorted. Call a supervisor or security for help.
  • Protect identification badges, office keys, and codes as you would your own cards and keys.

What's in a password?

Most computer systems have complex built-in security devices, but the right password can still unlock the system! Make it hard for "information thieves" to figure out your password.
  • Use at least eight characters. Avoid personal information like date of birth, address, or social security number.
  • Add a punctuation mark or number if your system permits.
  • Use a phrase instead of a one-word password if possible.
  • You might choose a word in English, then use a dictionary to translate it into a foreign language.
  • Change your password monthly.
  • Memorize your password. Don't write it on a piece of paper inside your desk drawer, appointment book or on a rolodex.
  • Cracking the voice mail or PBX system.
Remote access and voice mail features of PBX (private branch exchange) systems make them vulnerable to con artists who specialize in toll card fraud. To stop these thieves from running up phone bills on your company's account:
  • Change your access code frequently, and use longer codes.
  • Treat you phone password like your computer password - with extreme care!
  • When you're away from the office, don't let anyone see or overhear your phone card codes.

When You Travel on Business...

  • Resist discussing your job with the friendly person next to you.
  • Avoid the temptation to work on sensitive projects in public places like restaurants and planes.
  • When you leave your car or hotel room, put company information in a secure place or take it with you.
  • Be sensitive to conducting confidential business on the phone, including cellular phones.

A Final Note

When you were hired, you may have signed an agreement regarding the protection of proprietary information. This is a legally and ethically binding contract between you and the company. Take it seriously!

Safer Seniors

As people grow older, their chances of being victims of crime decrease dramatically. But a lifetime of experience coupled with the physical problems associated with aging often make older Americans fearful and trapped in their own homes. Though, they're on the lookout constantly for physical attack and burglary, they're not as alert to frauds and con games ? in reality, the greatest crime threat to seniors' well being and trust.

Want to conquer fear and prevent crime? Take these common-sense precautions:

  • Be alert when out and about
  • Go with friends or family, not alone.
  • Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
  • Don't carry credit cards you don't need or large amounts of cash.
  • Use direct deposit for Social Security and other regular checks.
  • Keep car doors locked, whether you're a passenger or driver. Be particularly alert in parking lots and garages. Park near an entrance.
  • Sit close to the driver or near the exit while riding the bus, train, or subway.
  • If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts and leave.
  • Make Your Home Safe and Secure
  • Install good locks on doors and windows and use them. Don't hide keys in mailboxes and planters or under doormats. Instead, leave an extra set of keys with a neighbor or friend.
  • Ask for photo identification from service or delivery people before letting them in the door. If you are the least bit worried, call the company to verify.
  • Be sure your street address number is large, clear of obstruction, and well-lighted so police and other emergency personnel can find your home quickly.
  • Consider a home alarm system that provides emergency monitoring for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies.

Watch Out for Con Artists

  • Don't fall for anything that sounds too good to be true: a free vacation; sweepstakes prizes; cures for cancer and arthritis; a low-risk, high yield investment scheme.
  • Never give your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or bank account number to anyone over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
  • Don't let anyone rush you into signing anything ? an insurance policy, a sales agreement, a contract. Read it carefully and have someone you trust check it over.
  • Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer organizations, or government agencies that offer to recover lost money from fraudulent telemarketers for a fee.
  • If you're suspicious, check it out with the police, the Better Business Bureau, or your local consumer protection office.You can also call the National Consumers League Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.

Get Involved in the Community

  • Report any crime or suspicious activities to law enforcement.
  • Join a Neighborhood Watch to look out for each other and help the police.
  • Work to help improve your neighborhood. Volunteer as a citizen patroller, tutor for children, office aide in the police or fire department, mentor for teens, or escort for individuals with disabilities.
  • Does your community have a Triad program? It's sponsored on a national level by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Sheriffs' Association. Triad promotes partnerships between senior citizens and the law enforcement community, both to prevent crime against the elderly and to help law enforcement benefit from the talents of older people. If you're interested, contact your chief of police, sheriff, or AARP chapter, or call Triad at NSA at 800-424-7827.

Take Crime Prevention To Work

When you go to work, don't leave your crime prevention sense at home. Almost any crime that can happen at home or in your neighborhood, can happen in the workplace. But common-sense prevention skills can help make life at work safer for all.

Help Prevent Office Theft and Other Crimes

  • Keep your purse, wallet, keys, or other valuable items with you at all times or locked in a drawer or closet.
  • Check the identity of any strangers who are in your office -- ask whom they are visiting and if you can help them find that person. If this makes you uncomfortable, inform security or management about your suspicions.
  • Always let someone know where you'll be -- whether it's coming in late, working late, going to the photocopier or mail room, going out to lunch or a meeting.
  • If you bring personal items to work such as a coffee pot, a radio, or a calculator, mark them with your name or initials and an identification number.
  • Report any broken or flickering lights, dimly lit corridors, doors that don't lock properly, or broken windows. Don't wait for someone else to do it.
  • Be discreet. Don't advertise your social life or vacation plans and those of your coworkers to people visiting or calling your place of work.

Take a Look at Common Trouble Spots

  • Reception area -- Is the receptionist equipped with a panic button for emergencies, a camera with a monitor at another employee's desk, and a lock on the front door that can be controlled?
  • Stairwells and out-of-the-way corridors -- Don't use the stairs alone. Talk to the building manager about improving poorly lighted corridors and stairways.
  • Elevators -- Don't get into elevators with people who look out of place or behave in a strange or threatening manner. If you find yourself in an elevator with someone who makes you nervous, get off as soon as possible.
  • Restrooms -- Attackers can hide in stalls and corners. Make sure restrooms are locked and only employees have keys. Be extra cautious when using restrooms that are isolated or poorly lighted.
  • After hours -- Don't work late alone. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation or ask security to escort you.
  • Parking lots or garages -- Choose a well-lighted, well-guarded parking garage. Always lock your car and roll the windows up all the way. If you notice any strangers hanging around the parking lot, notify security or the police. When you approach your car, have the key ready. Check the floor and front and back seats before getting in. Lock your car as soon as you get in -- before you buckle your seat belt.

What about violence in the workplace?

Violence in the workplace takes many forms, from raised voices and profanity or sexual harassment to robbery or homicide. While homicide in the workplace is rising, 75 percent of work-related homicides are committed by unknown assailants while committing a robbery or other crimes. Despite media hype, the attacker usually isn't a disgruntled coworker. To assess a workplace's vulnerability to violence, ask yourself these questions.
  • Is your office secure? Do you have easy-to-use phone systems with emergency buttons, sign-in policies for visitors, panic buttons, safe rooms, security guards, office access controls, good lighting, and safety training?
  • Does your employer take care in hiring and firing? Before hiring, are employment gaps, history, references, and criminal and educational records thoroughly examined? Are termination procedures defined clearly with attention to advance notice, severance pay, and placement services?
  • Could you recognize potentially violent employees? Signs of stress that could erupt into violence include: depression, frequent absences, talking in a louder-than-normal voice, being startled easily, increased irritability and impatience, and concentration and memory problems.
  • Are you encouraged to report unusual or worrisome behavior? Is there a clear, written policy that spells out procedures in cases of violence and sanctions for violators? Make sure you know to whom you should report unusual behaviors.
  • Do you work in a supportive, harmonious environment? Is there a culture of mutual respect? Does your employer provide an employee assistance program (EAP)?
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by: National Crime Prevention Council