Crime Prevention, as a practice, encompasses multiple aspects of crime and victimization. It may involve something as simple as locking your doors, to the more complex, such as making neighborhoods and facilities safer through utilizing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. We will attempt to address a few basic crime prevention topics here that most residents will find value in.
If you want to learn more about Crime Prevention, or a Residential Security Survey, we would encourage you to contact a Crime Prevention Officer: Lt. Jamey Hofmann Email
Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States. Hardly a week goes by that our officers don't take at least 1 Identity Theft-related report.
Identity Theft is the theft of personal information, which may include a name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, or mother's maiden name, which is then used for financial gain by the thief. This can be done in a number of ways, but the more common methods include opening credit/charge accounts, buying cars, applying for loans, renting apartments, setting up utility or cell phone service; all in the victim's name without their knowledge.
There are basic safeguards that everyone should utilize to protect themselves:
Always shred any documents with personal information
Never give personal information over the phone or on the internet unless you initiated the contact
Keep your Social Security card at home in a safe place
Regularly retrieve your mail from the mailbox and deposit outgoing mail at a Post Office or Postal Service Collection box
If you are a victim of Identity Theft:
Contact your local law enforcement agency and file a report
Immediately place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting the 3 major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion
If there are accounts in your name that appear to have been compromised or have suspicious activity, cancel them immediately (it helps to have copies of all credit cards, front and back, in a secure place to assist in this)
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 877-ID-THEFT
Burglary is when someone enters a structure that is occupied or likely to be occupied, with the purpose of committing a criminal offense. The classic example is someone's home, even if no 1 is home, because a place of residence is likely to be occupied at any time. The financial loss suffered in a burglary can be enormous, but it is often the emotional trauma of a burglary that proves most difficult for the victims. Knowing that that sanctity of your home, the place where you and your family should feel most secure, was violated by a stranger can be difficult for all members of the family to accept. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to lessen the chances that you will become the victim of a burglary.
First, take a hard look at your home the way a potential burglar may.
If you were going to break in, how would you do it?
What are the potential access points to your home and are they fortified?
What improvements could you make?
Remember, you can't make a home burglar-proof; the idea is to make it as difficult for the potential burglar as you can so that he or she will be deterred.
Locks for windows and doors can play an important role in the protection of your home. For doors, quality locks, to include dead bolts with a 1 inch throw, are critical. For additional security, a heavy duty, 4-screw strike plate will minimize the chance that a door will be kicked or pried open. For sliding glass doors, additional locking solutions besides the latch type lock that comes with the door. Particularly for older sliding glass doors, make sure that the door cannot be pried off of its track and removed; proper adjustment and supplemental locks can solve this problem. And remember that the man door to your attached garage should offer the same level of security as the other exterior doors! Supplemental locks for windows should be considered as well, depending on the type of windows in your home.
Now look at the outside of your home.
Are windows and/or doors visible from the street and your neighbor's homes, or are there obstructions such as shrubbery that could offer concealment for a burglar? At night, are potential hiding spots and entryway well lit?
Are lights motion sensitive?
Lighting by entrances should be a minimum of 40 watt illumination.
Now think about the behaviors and habits of you and your family.
Do you use the locks on your doors and windows?
Do you or your family members leave windows open at night or when the house is unoccupied?
If someone shows up unexpected trying to sell a home improvement service, be wary. Keep your contact brief and don't let them in your house. This may be a distraction burglary, and a second person may victimize you while the first keeps you distracted.
As a deterrent, homes should never look as if they are unoccupied so when no 1 is home, make it look like someone is, or at least try to make it less obvious. During the day, you want to make it difficult for anyone to see what you have in your home, but drawing the blinds or closing the curtains on every window is a dead giveaway. Select windows that, if left uncovered, will not provide a view of valuables or or alarm panels from outside and leave them open during the day. At night, have certain lights on timers, as well as a TV or 2. And if you are reluctant to leave a TV on, there is even a device called Fake TV (www.faketv.com) that is available to give the impression of a TV when you are gone.
Alarm systems are a great deterrent to burglars as well. Although not a guarantee, they offer an additional layer of protection. When considering an alarm system, do your research carefully. Check references carefully and research the company. Be cognizant of the hardware used, the method of setup, and the method used to alert the police department (monitoring). And don't forget to register your alarm with the police department!
Finally, if you need help with making your home more burglary-resistant, contact the police department's Crime Prevention Bureau. We can offer advice, referrals, or even conduct an on-site security assessment of your home.
The types and methods of scams are limited only by the criminals' imagination; they are far too numerous and varied to talk about them in this website. There are, however, precautions that everyone can practice to help insulate themselves from becoming a victim:
You've heard it before, many times; but there is no better rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding scams. If it sounds to good to be true, it is probably a scam!
If you are offered some opportunity for financial gain from someone who you do not know or only know casually, particularly if it is unsolicited, it is probably a scam!
If you are asked to wire money to someone you do not know, it is probably a scam!
If someone sends you/gives you a check that you did not ask for and tells you to deposit it, it is probably a counterfeit check! This may be an attempt to pay for something that you are selling and the buyer will give you a check over the amount you require and request cash or a check back.
Investment schemes continue to be prevalent, as are employment schemes. Again, if you did not initiate the contact, if it sounds too good to be true, if they are asking for a financial investment up front, be very cautious!
There are many types of scams, with many new variations every day. They may come to you by phone, mail, email or even in person. Never act quickly on a financial matter, always be suspicious of any unsolicited offers, and always research thoroughly before even thinking about acting on an offer. And don't hesitate to call the police department if you think you are being scammed.
Watch this video from the Federal Trade Commission about money scams.