Crime911 Emergency Headquarters for preventing crime before it strikes!

It's always Smart to be "Streetwise" because our streets are no longer safe.

 

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How can we guard our safety?

We can educate ourselves by not going to places where there is a lot of criminal activity. We must also play it smart at all times by carrying a personal defense device such as pepper spray or stun guns.

Pepper spray and/or stun guns are very good choices for personal defense because they are affordable and effective against your attacker. A gun or firearm is ok too. But in this day and age, you need a hard-to-get permit to carry a concealed weapon. If you are ever caught with a gun in your waistband and do not have proper documentation, that could mean a 3rd degree felony for YOU and/or jail time in some states.

Pepper spray is a good defense weapon of choice because, it is small and concealable. It only takes one squirt into the attacker's eyes to cause severe burning and itching in his eyes. If the pepper spray goes into his mouth or his nose he will undergo profuse coughing and have severe respiratory difficulty.

Another advantage that pepper spray has is the range of the blasts that this weapon can produce. One does not have to be in close quarters combat to use the spray in the attacker's face. Most pepper spray models have an 8-10 feet firing range. You can be at a considerable distance from your attacker and fire this weapon into his face. This will temporarily disable him so that you can run away and call police.

A stun gun is another good weapon of choice for personal defense. It too is small and concealable and can put out tons of voltage to disable your attacker. Unlike pepper spray, a stun gun once used on your attacker can cause immediate electrical shock to him thus disabling him and putting him on the ground.  Often just firing it into the air is enough to make most attackers back away.
 

Block Watch Information

What is Block Watch?

Since the Police are unable to cover every neighborhood at all times, you can help by forming a neighborhood Block Watch. You and your neighbors can stay safe by looking out for one another.

A Block Watch is simply a program of neighbors watching out (help aid) for each other. It is designed to enlist the active participation of citizens in cooperation with the police to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods

It is becoming acquainted with your neighbors.
It is working together to identify and solve problems in your neighborhood.
It is helping the police by being aware of and reporting unusual activities.
It is learning to use 911 and non emergency calls wisely.
It is the implementation of crime prevention techniques to enhance home security.

Block Watch is not…

  • A vigilante force working outside the normal procedures of law enforcement.

  • A program designed for participants to take personal risks to prevent crime.

  • A 100% guarantee that crime will not occur in your neighborhood.

What are the Benefits of Block Watch?

  • Reducing the risk of being a crime victim.

  • Being better prepared to respond to suspicious activity.

  • Increased information on issues that impact neighborhoods.

  • Posting Block Watch signs in your neighborhood.

How Does Block Watch Work?

  • A Block Watch works by having you and your neighbors use simple techniques to deter, delay, and detect crime, and improve the quality of life for the neighborhood.

  • Being aware of criminal activity can help in keeping your neighborhood safe.

  • By joining together and working with your neighbors, your efforts help the police to assist you in promoting a safe and healthy neighborhood.

  • Block Watch does not require frequent meetings.

  • Block Watch does not ask that anyone take personal risk to prevent crime.

  • Block Watch leaves the responsibility of apprehending criminals where it belongs, with the Police Department.

A Block Watch Means Working In Partnership Rather Than Isolation.

When a group of neighbors decide to work together to stop problems on their street amazing things can happen. First, they can get to meet and make some very good friends. Next, they can find out that they are not alone in their concern over the safety of their street. And lastly, they can discover just how strong and effective a group of people can be when they set their mind to making a change.

Since the police are unable to cover every neighborhood at all times, you can help by forming a neighborhood Block Watch. You and your neighbors can stay safe by looking out for one another. Start organizing your neighbors by scheduling a Block Watch meeting.  Contact your local law enforcement agency.  Many already have information and assistance to help you get started.  Many will even come to your meeting to explain how Block Watches work.  At your meeting, it can be explained how you can create an alert neighborhood by using simple crime prevention methods.

The Key: Looking out for each other. It worked yesterday ... it is still working today.  Block Watch began many years ago when Arizona pioneers worked together to protect their early settlements. Today, the Block Watch concept can bring your neighbors together for the common goal of making your neighborhood a safe place to live. You and your neighbors are safer when you look out for each other. YOU could be the one to make a difference.

How do I interest my neighbors to participate in Block Watch?

Let people know about the main benefits of the program, and how they can profit from them. First of all, Block Watch helps to prevent crime through communication. Breaking and entering crimes usually occur in "rashes"; suspects usually target a group of homes rather then just entering one. By informing the neighborhood of a single break-in, the whole block becomes more aware of the crime that is currently occurring in their community, therefore taking better precautions and being more watchful of suspicious activities. Secondly, Block Watch works to strengthen neighborhood ties. We have all heard the horror story of the moving truck that pulled up and emptied out a house while neighbors looked on, simply thinking the people next door were moving. Block Watch prevents this kind of occurrence, as well as less dramatic examples. Simply knowing your neighbor's name and simple facts about their family can help you to identify suspicious occurrences or people. Lastly, Block Watch assists you and your neighbors in getting to know the police and how they can help you be safer in your everyday life.

How to Start a Block Watch

A Block Watch Means Working In Partnership Rather Than Isolation

When a group of neighbors decide to work together to stop problems on their street amazing things can happen. First, they can get to meet and make some very good friends. Next, they can find out that they are not alone in their concern over the safety of their street. And lastly, they can discover just how strong and effective a group of people can be when they set their mind to making a change.

A block watch is a self-help group that encourages neighbors to be more aware of what is happening on their street. Reporting criminal and suspicious behavior to the police, as well as to each other, heightens awareness and strengthens neighborhood.

Being in a block watch does not require anyone taking any personal risks to prevent crime. It leaves the responsibility of apprehending criminals where it belongs - with the police. What a block watch does achieve is the reduction of crime through an aware and cohesive community.

To Become a Block Watch...

... all you have to do is talk with your neighbors and see if they are interested in working together.  Most meetings are held in evening to accommodate people's busy schedules, and they are usually in someone's home to make attendance easier. If you live in an apartment building and no one's home is big enough for a meeting you can get together in your community room or ask people to bring their own chairs to the laundry room, or even meet in a large hallway!

Don't be discouraged if not everyone on the block or in your complex wants to join. A core group of members who are willing to work together can be very effective. You can always add members as the group becomes more active. Neighbors attending the first meeting should be asked to bring another neighbor with them to the next meeting. If you live in an apartment, it's a good idea to invite your building manager or superintendent to take part in your apartment watch. They know what goes on in the building and they can assist with security measures.

At the first meeting you will learn how to make your block watch work and how to handle the problems on the street. Observation and communication among neighbors will become the focal point of your group. Taking a look out the window or door, or even something as simple as taking the dog for a walk, will show you a lot about the activity on the street. Reporting what you see and hear to the police is very important. And just as important is reporting it to one another. You will share telephone numbers with your neighbors and learn how to report criminal and suspicious activity to the police. An easy system of communication among the members will be developed through the use of a telephone chain. This way everyone is alerted to what is going on and can be more careful of both themselves and one another. Some just call this being a good neighbor.

You will want to include the community based police officers from your area at some of your meetings. This gives you a chance to meet with the officers in an informal manner and discuss the problems of the street. You can form strategies and long term plans to help reduce the crime in the neighborhood - something that is appropriate for your street and your neighbors. The community based officers can become a permanent resource for your block watch and a guiding force in keeping your area free of problems.

Now you are on your way to having a safer neighborhood. By reducing opportunities for crime, looking out for your neighbors, and acting as extra eyes and ears for the police, you can improve the quality of life in your community.

A Block Watch Should Have:

  • a core group of neighbors willing to work together

  • a meeting with a member of the Neighborhood Services Unit to organize the group

  • a telephone chain that alerts the neighbors to what is happening on the block

  • a map of the block, apartment building, or complex showing the name address and telephone number of each home or apartment

  • two block captains elected by the group to keep the membership list up to date and to call frequent meetings

  • contact with community based officers

  • friendship and trust with each other

What Block Watch Members Should Be Alert To:

  • Someone running from a car or home.  (help aid)

  • Someone screaming. If you can't determine what the screams are for, call the police department and report it.

  • Someone going door to door in the neighborhood or looking into windows and parked cars.

  • A person who seems to have no purpose wandering the neighborhood.

  • Any unusual or suspicious noise that you can't explain, such as breaking glass or pounding.

  • Vehicles moving slowly, without lights, or with no apparent destination.

  • Business transactions conducted from a vehicle. This could involve the sale of drugs or stolen goods.

  • Offers of merchandise at ridiculously low prices. It's probably stolen.

  • Property carried off by persons on foot at an unusual hour or place, especially if the person is running.

  • Property being removed from closed businesses or residences known to be unoccupied.

  • A stranger entering a neighbor's home or apartment that appears to be unoccupied.

  • A stranger in a car stopping to beckon to a child.

  • A child resisting the advances of an adult.

How to Report Incidents

  • The police need to have accurate information as quickly as possible about a suspicious activity or a crime in progress.

  • Give your name and identify yourself as a member of a block watch.

  • Describe the event in as brief a manner as possible.

  • Where, When, How and Who did it?

  • Tell if the crime is in progress or if it already took place.

  • Describe the vehicle if one was involved - color, make, model, year, color, make, model, year, license plate, special markings, dents, which way did it go?

  • Law enforcement needs your help reporting crimes. Be alert wherever you are and learn to recognize crime. When you see or hear something that might indicate a criminal act is being committed, don't hesitate to call the police.

  • When you are reporting a crime, stay calm and state the problem. Give the address where the emergency is occurring.  Remember to give the full address and the nearest cross street.

  • It is important to be able to describe the offender to police after the offense has occurred. Police need to know the suspect's race, sex, age, height, weight, build, complexion, hair color, eye color, clothing and miscellaneous identifying marks such as tattoos, scars, accent, beard or mustache, and distinctive characteristics.

  • Let the police dispatcher control the conversation. Answer all questions to ensure the best response.  If you wish to remain anonymous, give your name to the operator, then request anonymity and tell the operator that if the officer needs more information, they can call you later.

Keep Your Block Watch Going and Growing:

  • Order FREE Crime911 fliers to hand out at your meetings.

  • Just because crime declines, don't let your block watch die. Stay alert and aware, be neighborly, and look to other activities to enhance community safety and well-being.

  • Organize citizen patrols to walk around streets or apartment complexes and alert police to crime and suspicious activities. Cars with CB radios can patrol.

  • Organize meetings that focus on current issues such as isolation of the elderly, drug abuse, crime in schools, after school programs, child safety, and victim services.

  • Publish a newsletter that gives local crime news, recognizes block captains and other persons who have helped the police by reporting, and highlights community activities.

  • Make a resource list for your block watch of numbers to call for emergencies, child abuse, victim services, lighting, street repairs, youth activities, etc.

  • Work with local building code officials to get unsafe buildings boarded up or repaired.

  • Organize a community clean-up day.

  • Start a Safe Home Program for children.

  • Don't forget events like a Fourth of July picnic or a pot luck dinner that gives neighbors a chance to get together.

How Safe Is Your Home?
A substantial number of burglaries are committed by non-professionals who rely on easy entry to your home.
· Do your door locks have an adequate 1inch throw deadbolt.
· Is your strike plate (mounted on the door frame) reinforced with a 2 or 3" screws?
· Do you have secondary locks on all windows rather than just simple catches provided by the builder or manufacturer?
· Do you know where all the keys are to your home and office?
· When you leave home, even for a short time, do you lock all doors and windows, including any outside shed or garage?

PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION
Burglars seldom steal things for their own personal use. They steal items that are portable, easily converted to cash, and most particularly, items that cannot be identified as to ownership.
Property identification will discourage a burglar from breaking into your home if all personal property is identified, as this creates a high risk for the thief. Here's how it works:
Police agencies have immediate national and international communications via computer. Within seconds, this system can give a status report on any property identified item. Proper identification is essential however, and that is where you can work together with your police.
Engrave all your valuables with your drivers license number in TWO places.
Photograph or videotape items you do not want to mark, such as jewelry, art and delicate glass. Make a ruler to visually determine comparative size.

Property Identification

Engraving your property and recording serial and model numbers improves the chance of getting stolen items back, reduces the desirability of the items as objects to be stolen, and helps police determine that property is stolen and thus catch the criminal. It helps establish court cases against criminals and may (with a sticker in place) make the criminal prefer to burglarize another house.

Activities to Watch for:

  • Unusual scream, whistle or alarm sound from anywhere.

  • Anyone removing valuables from homes or vehicles.

  • Sounds of breaking glass or shattering wood.

  • Persons going door to door.

  • Strange vehicles parked at your neighbor's house.

  • Vehicle passing by numerous times, suspiciously parked or constantly traveling back alleys.

  • Anyone being forced into a car.

  • Beam from flashlight or light in neighbor's home.

  • Persons loitering around neighborhood.

If you see something suspicious - Write down the description of any suspicious persons. Get the make, model, color and license numbers of strange vehicles. Call the police and other members of your block Watch group immediately. Don't assume someone else has called. Call the police Immediately.

Home Security

Keeping your home secure is not hard to do. Most home security strategies are easy and don't cost a lot of money. When you think about home security take your house, yard and even your neighborhood into account.  Pay close attention to the vulnerable areas.  A good rule of thumb is if you can break into your home without much trouble, then so can a burglar!

Neighbors that work together at keeping their properties neat and well maintained send a silent but strong message that they care about what happens on their street. Take a look at your neighborhood as a thief might see it and decide if it gives you a sense of safety and well being.

Also consider how your neighbors interact with one another.  When neighbors talk to each other barriers are broken down, people feel safer and there is more willingness to work together. A good observant neighbor can be a great deterrent to crime.

Answer the following questions and see how your street measures up. The more questions that are answered "yes," the safer the street.

  1. Do you and your neighbors trim back trees when they are overgrown and hinder street illumination?

  2. Is your street free from litter and garbage?

  3. Are sidewalks maintained?

  4. Do you call the police about abandoned cars in your neighborhood?

  5. Do your neighbors look out for each other?

  6. Do you leave an extra house key with a trusted neighbor instead of under a mat or other hiding place that can easily be discovered?  (help aids)

  7. Do you have an active block watch to help communication among neighbors?

  8. Do your neighbors watch your home when you are away?  (help aids)

Consider having a summer cookout/pot luck dinner with your neighbors to make new friendships, exchange information, and maintain a sprit of cooperation.

Home Security: In The Yard

Now let's take a look around the outside of your home. Help define your yard so people can tell where private property begins. Bordering your lawn - or for that matter, a well-kept lawn - can help. And don't hide your house. Secluded, dark property concealed by shrubbery or solid fencing is a burglar's delight. So brighten up the outside, especially doorways, and clear away excess foliage. Light up what you need to protect - the house itself.  Weigh the difference between a moderate amount of privacy and creating a fortress where no one can see out and no one can see in. Keeping your property visible goes a long way in keeping it safe.

  1. If a fence protects your property, is it chain link or post and rail so as to eliminate hiding places and increase your view?

  2. As an alternative to fencing, do you use low bushes or shrubs to help define your property?

  3. Are the shrubs and hedges around your yard and next to the house trimmed back to allow visibility and eliminate hiding places?

  4. Are tree limbs near the house trimmed back to eliminate climbing and gaining entrance to the second floor or roof?

  5. Is your property free from large areas of darkness and shadows?

  6. Do you use floodlights to illuminate your property?

  7. Do you light up the outer areas of your yard (i.e. walkways) so people are visible as soon as they enter your property?

  8. Do you control your outside lights with either automatic timers, photoelectric cells, or motion detectors?  Dummy outdoor cameras.

Home Security: Outside The House

How's the security on your house itself?  Securing the exterior of the house is a very important element toward preventing a burglary.  The condition and quality of windows, doors, and locks have the biggest impact on how easy it is to break in.  If doors are left unlocked or are easy to defeat, a burglar will find your home very attractive. You can have the best and most sophisticated locks available but if you don't use them, it amounts to having none at all.

More people are using alarms these days. If you are considering having a system installed, its best to use a dealer who will come to your home and discuss the options most appropriate for you. You should also get more than one estimate before you purchase any alarm system.  Put up signs or stickers to warn criminals that your house has an alarm system.  Consider installing dummy outdoor cameras.

Doors

  1. Are all of your exterior doors made of either 1-3/4 inch solid wood or metal?

  2. If you have exterior doors with windows in them , have you installed polycarbonate over the glass panels near the lock?

  3. Is the door frame secure enough to provide no movement when you push against it?

  4. Do your solid exterior doors have 180 degree, wide-angle viewers to allow for visual identification of people without having to open the door?

  5. Are sliding glass doors protected with a secondary lock, such as a "charlie bar" or a slide bolt? Also these doors should be installed in a manner as to prevent them from being lifted out off the track.

  6. Are exterior basement doors made of metal or solid wood and protected with a deadbolt?

  7. Are hatchway doors secured with a sliding bolt?

  8. Are garage doors leading into the house made of solid wood and secured with a dead bolt?

  9. Are doors on outbuildings, such as garages and sheds, adequately protected?

  10. Are overhead garage doors secured with a padlock, deadbolt lock, or electronic door opener?

Windows and Locks

  1. Do you lock your double-hung windows with sliding bolts or window locks and not rely on the crescent latch which only keeps the bottom and top sashes closed?

  2. Are the safety latches in your casement windows working properly with no play in the crank handles?

  3. Are all panels of glass in your louvered windows or doors glued with epoxy to prevent removal?

  4. Are your sliding glass doors secured with "charlie bars" or sliding bolts?

  5. Do you secure your basement windows with grillwork, bars, mesh, or polcarbonate? (A note to remember, if you are considering any of these safety methods, take into account those windows that are or could be needed for emergency exits.)

  6. Are the air conditioners bolted into the window from the inside?

  7. If you have a solid core exterior door, does it have a single cylinder deadbolt lock that uses a key on one side and a turn-knob on the other?

  8. If you have an exterior door that has a half-glass window, does it have a double cylinder deadbolt lock that uses a key on both sides?

  9. Do you use a deadbolt lock on all exterior doors?

In The House

Lastly, what does the inside of your house tell a burglar?  Burglaries usually happen when no one is at home.  So it's important to make the house look "lived in" - or as if someone is there.  You can use several visual cues to achieve this.

  1. Are some of your inside lights on automatic timers so the house never looks dark and empty?

  2. Are your shades or curtains drawn in the evening so those passersby cannot see your belongings?

  3. Do you leave a radio or television on while out, so that sound is emanating from the house?

  4. Do you rent a safety deposit box to store valuables that you do not often use?

  5. Do you engrave items such as television, computers, VCRs, etc. with your name or some other form of identification?

  6. If you have a safe at home is it appropriate for what you are protecting (fire safe for documents, money safe for cash and small valuables)?

Consider make a video tape of the entire contents of your home and describe items and their value/identifying characteristics as you record.  Keep the tape in a safe deposit box or other off sight location. Along with a video tape compile a written inventory of your valuables including the Make, Model and Serial Number.  Have a phone close to your bed should you need to summon help at night.

One of the most important safety steps you can take is to have your HOUSE NUMBER CLEARLY DISPLAYED so that in time of need, Emergency Services can locate your house no matter the time of day or night. Provide the dispatcher with the nearest cross street to your house to further aid in your home being quickly located.

Crime Prevention Safety Links


Facts About Auto Theft and Prevention

  • Fact: Nearly 1 in 5 stolen vehicles are left unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

  • Fact: Over half of all vehicle thefts occur in residential areas.

  • Fact: More than two thirds of auto thefts happen at night.

  • Fact: A car is five times more likely to be stolen from an unattended lot than from the street or an attended lot.

  • Fact: Good anti-theft devices slow down thieves and increase their risk of discovery.

Auto Theft Precautions
Securing Your Vehicle:

  • Always remove the keys from your car, lock all doors and shut windows tightly every time you leave your car.

  • Park in well lighted and high visible areas.

  • Never hide a spare key to your vehicle on or inside the vehicle.

  • Do not leave valuables in plain view.

  • Install a flashing simulated alarm.

  • Do not leave titles or bills of sale in your vehicle; the title can be altered easily and/or your signature can be forged.

  • Drop a business card into the door frame.

  • Have the vehicle identification number etched on window glass trim as well as other parts of the car; T-tops, radios, etc.

  • Back your car into the driveway. If you drive forward into the driveway, a perpetrator could raise the hood to hot wire the car and it would appear to the neighbors that you were just working on the car.

  • When parking in attended lots or parking garages, leave only the ignition key with the attendant.

  • Lock your registration and insurance documents in the trunk.

  • Always lock your garage door.  Turn off your garage door opener when you go on vacation.

Vehicle Security Devices

  • When purchasing a vehicle, check the manufacturer's list on anti-theft options, such as interior hood and trunk releases, locking steering columns, locking gas caps, and alarm systems.

  • You may want to consider installing a disabler switch or "kill switch" which will prevent a thief from starting the car or a fuel switch which stops the fuel supply.

  • Anti-Theft Bars or Steering Wheel Locking Devices prevent the steering wheel from being turned. They are highly visible and may act as a deterrent from theft.

  • Armored Collar is a metal shield that locks around the steering column and covers the ignition, the starter rod, and the steering wheel interlock rod.

  • Crook Lock is a long metal bar that has a hook on each end to lock the steering wheel to the brake pedal.

  • Tire Locks make the car nearly impossible to move.

Any device can be defeated by a determined thief if he/she is given enough time to operate undetected.  Your first consideration should be to follow the advice about locking and parking your vehicle.

Car Alarms

The typical car alarm is equipped with motion sensors, impact sensors and a loud siren or series of tones. A current listing of alarms includes the Audible Alarm, Motion Detector, Current Sensor, Computerized Ignition Immobilizer, Sight and Sound Computerized Alarm and Silent Paging System. The best alarms activate themselves automatically when you leave the vehicle and include an automatic kill switch. The best models also flash the headlights and honk the horn in addition to sounding a siren.

Ravelco System is an electronic plug. When it is removed it is impossible to start the vehicle.

Alarm systems are available at automotive part dealers, major department stores, car dealers, or through mail order catalogs.

Electronic Tracking Devices

An electronic transmitter hidden in the vehicle emits a signal that is picked up by the police or a monitoring system. Tracking devices are effective in helping authorities recover vehicles before they can be stripped.

Protect Yourself When Buying and Selling a Car

  • Beware of fast pressure sells.

  • Be cautious of the low priced bargain car.

  • Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if it has been altered.

  • Be suspicious of fresh paint on the car.

  • Verify that the inspection sticker and the license tag are current and from the same state.

  • Do not accept duplicate car keys.

  • Complete all paper work at the time of sale.

  • If you are selling a car, never allow a person to test drive the vehicle alone.

  • Ask to see an interested buyer's driver's license, and write down the name, address, driver's license number, etc.

  • Make certain the driver's door contains a federal motor vehicle safety standard label. This label is often called a mylar sticker and it contains the vehicle identification number. Presence of the label is required by law.

If Your Car is Stolen...

Call the police. Vehicle theft should be reported as soon as possible. However before the vehicle can be listed as stolen, you must have your vehicle's license number and/or the vehicle identification number (VIN).  An officer will take the report over the telephone.  By making a report over the phone, the needed information about your vehicle can be directly entered into the Police Department's computer system.  This enables officers to immediately identify your vehicle as being stolen.  Stolen vehicles are sometimes used in the commission of other crimes.  Quick action often results in recovery of your vehicle as well as prevention of another crime.  If the criminal is apprehended, be willing to file charges.  Testify in court.

Follow-Up

If you recover your own vehicle, you must not touch or move your vehicle in order to preserve any possible evidence. Please call the non-emergency police number in your area to report the recovery.  If you don't your car will continue to be listed as stolen.

Daily precautions are an important first step in reducing your chances of becoming a victim of auto theft.
 

Burglar Alarm Systems

There are a number of systems available. But you should know that there is no such thing as a burglar alarm system that will make your house burglar proof 100% of the time. However, a good alarm system can deter or detect most intruders and will afford an added measure of security when you are away from your house.

Some alarm systems are strictly perimeter protection and others use strictly interior protection. The best system is usually one that protects the perimeter of your home combined with some interior protection. The interior traps detect an intruder after he has entered the home or bypassed the perimeter system.

Preference for the desired level of security and type of system used depends entirely upon your budget and the design of your home. The cost of an alarm system varies greatly, not only because of the equipment, but also due to other considerations such as the distance to the alarm company, local telephone rates, the amount of wiring required, the construction materials of your home, etc. If it is connected to a monitoring service such as an alarm company central station, answering service, or other (telephone) facility, there is a monthly service charge plus telephone line and mileage rates.

NOTE: Many alarm companies offer services for a variety of emergencies such as burglar, fire, hold-up, medical, etc. However, some alarm companies do not have the capability to distinguish the exact nature of the problem when they receive a signal into their central station.

Following are some of the alarm components the company will probably discuss with you:

Perimeter Alarms The basic home system is a simple closed circuit loop system consisting of contacts or screens on doors and windows. Most are designed to ring a bell or activate a siren, and/or illuminate the area to scare off an intruder. This will usually scare away most residential burglars. There are several types of sensors used on perimeter alarm systems which include:

Magnetic Contacts One of the most widely used residential devices is an electro-mechanical contact consisting of a magnet in one sealed enclosure and a switch in another sealed enclosure. They are attached to doors, windows, transoms and other openings and wired to a central control box.

Screens These special screens have an unobtrusive, built-in alarm wire. They are usually custom made to fit the particular window to be protected.

Interior Alarms

Pressure Mats Basically, this is a flat switch operated by pressure from a foot step. They're usually installed under carpeting next to entrances, windows and stairways, and other areas where a burglar would likely travel through the home. The mat may also be used for spot protection on the interior of a perimeter system.

Photoelectric Beam Small, unobtrusive sensors are installed in hallways, large rooms, stairwells, and other similar areas. Any interruption of the beam by a person walking through it causes an alarm.

Ultrasonic (Motion Detection) Any movement within the protected area triggers an alarm. The unit should not be installed where there is likely to be normal traffic in the house at odd hours, or where it is subject to large amounts of wind turbulence from open windows or heater or air conditioning vents.

Microwave (Radar) This system is similar to ultrasonic - it detects motion in a specific area. The difference is that the unit operates at a higher frequency and does not use air as a transmission medium. Care must be taken in the installation to avoid accidental alarms due to the protection waves traveling beyond the required coverage area. It must be FCC approved. This unit is generally not recommended for home use.

Sound Units (Noise Detection) These systems operate by detecting noise. They are generally limited to use where there is low ambient noise.

Passive Infrared System This system is a detection system operating in a mode similar to the photo-electric beam and can be applied to cover a room or hallway.

Capacity (Proximity) This system is useful for protecting safes, files, cabinets, etc. The major drawback of this system is that it will only detect a person several inches in proximity to the object being protected.

Closed Circuit Television or Dummy Security Cameras  One system of some limited use to the homeowner is the TV camera. This can be manned so that the homeowner can view who is at the door, or with some sophisticated systems and adequate lighting, can view the complete exterior.

NOTE: You may also wish to consider having a fire alarm (smoke detection ionization) system installed along with your burglary system - have the company give you an estimate for both. It is often economical to take care of it all at once.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR Here are some ways to check the quality of your system:

  • Complete systems should operate on house current and/or battery back-up supplied current. (Self-contained, trickle-cell, battery-powered units are satisfactory if equipped with a reliable testing device.)

  • The system should have some monitoring device to alert the homeowner if any malfunction exists prior to operation.

  • The audible alarm features of the system should be heard in any part of the protected premise, and loud enough to alert neighbors and/or passersby.

  • Temporary losses of power, such as blackouts that cause the system to change over to battery power, should not trigger an audible alarm.

  • Any external components of the system should be made as inaccessible as possible so that intruders find it difficult to cut through wires or cables outside the home in an attempt to deactivate the system.

  • Main components of the system should meet the electrical safety standards set by Underwriter's Laboratories, Inc.

  • Internal wiring should be installed in conformity with the standards of the Electrical Code.

  • If you have a fire alarm installed with your burglary system, it should include a "test facility" for checking to see if it is functioning correctly.

  • Make sure warning decals are displayed advertising your home is protected by an alarm system.

  • Reset feature - every alarm system with an audible warning feature should have a reset function to turn the bell and/or siren off after sounding for a maximum of 15 minutes.

READ YOUR CONTRACT The alarm company should make a written proposal and give you a copy of the contract you will be signing. Make sure you read it.

Remember that your property and perhaps your personal safety are at stake. What appears to be a "bargain" may actually prove to be an easily compromised or an extremely limited alarm system. In this regard, be sure that the sensor devices (magnetic contacts, motion detectors, pressure mats, screens, etc.) to be installed are Underwriter's Laboratory, Inc., approved for burglary protection.

YOU AND YOUR ALARM SYSTEM The effectiveness of your system depends on you.  Understand how it works, and what it takes to keep it operating properly.  Ask the company to give you written instructions for the operation and testing of your system.  By law the companies are required to provide these instructions.  When the alarm is installed try to have all the members of your family present for instruction.  Be sure to let your neighbors know you have an alarm system and ask them to call the police if the alarm is activated.

NOTE: Panic Buttons and Hold-up alarms are frequently installed in homes or businesses for the purpose of summoning the police in a life threatening emergency (pepper spray, stun guns) such as an attempted robbery or mugging. They are sometimes placed in foyers or dwellings or under counters in stores for individuals to set off in times of emergency.  Unfortunately, this type of alarm system is sometimes abused and set off in situations that are not actual emergencies such as, observation of a suspected shoplifter, receipt of a bad check or motor vehicle accident.  It is important when installing a hold-up alarm or panic button that all individuals at home or work be instructed in the proper use of such a device.  Any questions about the use of this type of alarm system may be addressed to the police department.

CHOOSE A REPUTABLE COMPANY Make sure you deal with an established firm with a proven history of service and performance.

All of the employees of the alarm company who sell or service alarm equipment, and thus have access to your home, should be bonded.

The company should be willing to supply a list of nearby homeowners or commercial installations who are satisfied customers and who may be contacted for references.  You should select at least three local companies and make an appointment with their representative to meet with you to appraise your security needs and cost factors.  Be sure to get the name of the person who will be coming from each company which you do not sign until you have selected the system you want.

You may check the reputation of alarm companies with agencies such as The Better Business Bureau or the State Department of Consumer Protection.

Too Good to be True:  Con Games and Scams

What could be friendlier than helping a parent-in-need buy diapers for his baby?

How could it hurt to pay someone to pave your driveway at a low price?

If the man at your door says he's a plumber working next door and wants to check for water in your basement, why shouldn't you let him in?

The answer is the same. They are all con games or scams and, unfortunately, they are more common than you might think. It's not always easy to spot a con artist. They're smart and extremely persuasive. Some will play on your sympathies with stories that will tug at your heart. Others will play on your vulnerabilities - especially older citizens who live alone.

Mark your moneyProtection against counterfeit money.

Here is a collection of scams that have taken place in over the last few years.

Home Improvements - Men posing as plumbers convinced a woman to let them into her home.  One man, dressed in navy blue pants and jacket, rang her doorbell and told her he was working on a plumbing problem at the house next door and wanted to make sure there was no flooding in her basement.  She allowed him in and he went into her bathroom and began turning on faucets.  At the same time, he began talking to another man on a two-way radio.  While the woman stayed with the first man, she heard the second enter the house and go into other rooms.  She never saw the second person, but both men left the house minutes later.  After they left she discovered the unseen man had rummaged through closets and dressers and taken cash and jewelry.

During the late winter and early summer months a group of transients moved into an area with the sole purpose of fraudulently obtaining money from people.  They looked for signs that indicated residents were older (no swing sets or children's toys in the yard) and approached them under the guise of helping with repairs.  The most common scheme was roofing or driveway repair. While one person brought the homeowner out into the yard to inspect damages, another person entered the home and took money.  Or they told folks they had "extra" materials left from another job.  They quoted a very low price if the resident was willing to pay cash up-front.  Once they received the money, they promised to return but never did.

Two men rang the doorbell of an elderly gentleman and told him that while cutting down a neighbor's tree, a branch fell and broke his fence.  One man was holding a fence picket and a branch as proof.  One of the two led the victim into the backyard to show him the damage while giving him $50 for repairs as a means to distract him.  The second man entered the house unnoticed from an unlocked front door and took a large amount of cash.  The two men left (but not before the first man conned the victim into giving back the $50) and the theft was not discovered until later in the day.

New to the Neighborhood - A well-dressed man asked for assistance for his newborn baby.  He stated he was new in the neighborhood and was working part-time as a "temp" until he got a full-time job.  The man asked for a donation to help buy diapers and formula for the baby.  He claimed a church nearby was going to deliver Stop & Shop coupons but he couldn't wait that long.  He was friendly and very convincing.  After all, the money was for his baby!  Other residents were approached by a man who said he had just moved into the neighborhood and unfortunately had broken his car/house key.  He asked for $8 to have a replacement made and promised to repay them.  He even gave his name and address as a show of good faith.  No part of the story turned out to be true including his name and address.

Others That Have Been Used - A couple with two children approached an older woman while she was gardening in her front lawn.  The male was very friendly and claimed he had lived on her block as a youngster and had even known her son.  He kept up the conversation about "old times" until the young boy asked to use her bathroom.  She let the family into her home even though she was too embarrassed to admit she had no recollection of the man.  She brought the boy to her bathroom and returned to the family in another room.  When the child didn't reappear she looked for him and found him in her bedroom.  When questioned he said he'd lost his way.  The family soon left and she later discovered the boy had stolen money and jewelry.  A youngster or two accompanied by an adult asked if residents would like to buy gift-wrapping paper to help raise money for his school.  He asked for the money up front and didn't have any samples with him.  An unknown male rang the doorbell of several residents and asked if they would like the snow shoveled from their property.  He didn't have a shovel with him and asked for cash up front.  He told them he would be right back but never returned.  Residents were asked for money to help find missing children.  They were shown a sheet of paper with the pictures of several youngsters but no other identification on it.  A woman approached people on the street and asked for money to help her sick baby.  She claimed she needed to pick up a prescription at the drug store, she had no medical coverage "and you know how expensive prescriptions are these days."

Some Important Things to Remember About People Who Are Con Artists - They target older persons because they are perceived to be more trusting and have a higher probability of keeping money in the house.

They look for homes in need of some type of repair or yard work.

They are friendly and non-threatening.

They may wear a uniform and provide false identification. They may use two-way radios to give the appearance of being legitimate.

Precautions to Remember - Keep all doors locked, even when at home.

Before allowing any "company employee" into your home for unscheduled repairs, call the company first for verification.  Look the number up in the phonebook.  Do not accept phone numbers given by the "worker."

Never accept home repair offers from workers that just happen to be in the neighborhood.  Never pay in cash.  If they are reliable they will come back after you check them out.

If you're approached while outdoors by anyone soliciting to do repair or yard work, don't engage the person in conversation or allow them to lead you to an area away from the house.

If there is any suspicious activity, call the police immediately at 911.

Cybersafety for kids:  A Parent's Guide

The Internet has opened up a world of information for anyone with a computer and a connection. Your children will learn about computers.  But just as you wouldn't send children near a busy road without safety rules, you shouldn't send them on to the information superhighway without rules of the road.  Too many dangers from pedophiles to con artists can reach children (and adults) through the Internet.

GETTING STARTED
Explain that although a person may be alone in a room using the computer, once logged on to the Internet, he or she is no longer alone.  People using the Internet can find out who you are and where you are.  They can even tap into information in your computer.  Set aside time to explore the Internet together.  If your child has some computer experience, let him or her take the lead.  Visit areas of the World Wide Web that have special sites for children.

CONTROLLING ACCESS
The best tool a child has for screening material found on the Internet is his or her brain.  Teach children about exploitation, pornography, hate literature, excessive violence, and other issues that concern you, so they know how to respond when they see this material.  Choose a commercial online service that offers parental control features.  These features can block contact that is not clearly marked as appropriate for children; chat rooms, bulletin boards, news groups, and discussion groups; or access to the Internet entirely.  Purchase blocking software and design your own safety system.  Different packages can block sites by name, search for unacceptable words and block sites containing those words, block entire categories of material, and prevent children from giving out personal information.  Monitor your children when they're online and monitor the time they spend online.  If a child becomes uneasy or defensive when you walk into the room or when you linger, this could be a sign that he or she is up to something unusual or even forbidden.

TELL YOUR CHILDREN

  • To always let you know immediately if they find something scary or threatening on the Internet.

  • Never to give out their name, address, telephone number, password, school name, parents' name, or any other personal information.

  • Never to agree to meet face to face with someone they've met online.

  • Never to respond to messages that have bad words or seem scary or just weird.

  • Never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.

  • Never to send a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.

WHAT YOU CAN DO IN THE COMMUNITY
Make sure that adults monitor access to the Internet at your children's school. Know your children's friends and their parents. If your child's friend has Internet access at home, talk to the parents about the rules they have established. Find out if the children are monitored while they are online. Make sure that your child's school has an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). This policy should include a list of acceptable and unacceptable activities or resources, information on "netiquette" (etiquette on the Internet), consequences for violations, and a place for you and your child to sign. Your family can design its own AUP for the home computer. If your child receives threatening e-mails or pornographic material, save the offensive material and contact that user's Internet service provider and your local law enforcement agency.

If you come across sites that are inappropriate for children when you are surfing the Net, send the addresses to online services that offer parental control features or to sites advertising protection software to add to their list to be reviewed for inclusion or exclusion.  Even if you don't subscribe to the service or own the protective software, you can help protect other children.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

It is no surprise to learn that there is a relationship between human behavior and our physical environment.  Our streets, neighborhoods, work places and schools give us clues as to how we should behave.  This is true for criminals as well.  A dark, dirty, neglected alleyway may instill fear and apprehension in a law abiding citizen, but to another person may send a signal that this is a good place to commit a crime.

We not only expect our homes to shelter us from the elements, we also expect to feel safe from unwanted intruders.  We need to protect and control what we consider to be our private space.

The concept of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is something we should all think about seriously.  The information below shows how we can design and use our environment to discourage crime.

1. Define and protect your territory in ways that say, "This is my space, I care about it.  Some one will see you enter it.  Someone will care about what you are doing when you are in it." Keep your property well lighted at night - use automatic timers or photoelectric cells on spot lights.  Plant and maintain decorative shrubbery which is neatly trimmed especially under windows and around doors.  Extend your area of control to the street by planting flowers or creating a decorative border on the grass near the curb.  Define your private property by planting low privet hedges around the perimeter or installing fences that will provide a border but not block the view.  Keep your home clean and well maintained.  Get together with your neighbors to form a block watch.  Together you can send a message that the street belongs to the residents, not the criminals.  Notice and ask questions of strangers who don't belong in your space.

2. Create natural opportunities for you, your neighbors, or police to view what is happening around your home.  Keep shrubs trimmed below your window sill so you can easily look out on to your property, and eliminate hiding places for criminals.  Replace solid stockade type fences with more open fencing to eliminate hiding places and extend your view.  Keep trees trimmed to get maximum illumination from street lights.  Move your parking area so your vehicle is in front of your home, or in a position to be easily observed by you or your neighbor.  Re-design the walkway to your house so that people using the walkway are always in plain view.

3. Control how people can enter your property.  Limit the number of ways people can enter your property.  Bound your backyard with shrubs or fencing so people must use a gate or well defined walkway.  Add a gate (help aid) with a latch to your front yard fence - this will require a few extra seconds for someone to open it.  Change the path to your door so you can observe someone as they approach. Replace inadequate door and window locks with good security hardware such as deadbolts. Consider installing an alarm system.  Install a peep hole in your door.

Other things you can do with your neighbors for better environmental design: Reclaim a vacant lot for a community garden or park.  Encourage neighborhood outdoor activities.  Maintain a strong presence on the street.  Events like block parties, clean-ups, festivals, and tag sales keep neighbors out on the street and criminals away.  Work with Police and city agencies on traffic control, neighborhood revitalization, or improvement of public services.  Stay involved with developers and city authorities on new construction in your area. Work with business owners to help them increase their natural surveillance abilities.

No single technique in environmental design will work to eliminate crime in every case.  Each situation requires we re-think how our environment may be contributing to criminal opportunity, and how can we change the environment in the most attractive and natural way possible.

Driver Safety

Entering Your Car: Have your keys ready when entering your vehicle.  Be alert to activity in the area.  Look into the vehicle before you enter it, checking the back.  Safely place children in the car, get in and lock doors immediately, then buckle their car seats or seatbelt.

Driving Your Car: Plan your route in advance, particularly on long or unfamiliar trips. Keep your car locked and windows up when it is parked or when you are driving.  Don't leave your wallet or purse on the seat next to you.  Place your purse on the floor under the front seat.  When driving or stopped at a light, leave room between your car and the one in front of you in case you need to maneuver quickly.  Avoid driving near the curb.  A carjacker can block your path with a vehicle or break a window and enter your vehicle before you can drive away.  Don't stop to help stranded motorists - instead, call the police department for them.  Avoid idling in neutral; you may have to pull away in a hurry.  Keep your gas tank full and your car in good working condition.

Leaving Your Car: Park in well-lit areas, near side walls and walkways.  Park in a lot with an attendant, if possible.  Avoid parking near woods, large vans, dumpsters or trucks or anything else that will obstruct your view.  Don't get out if there are suspicious people in the area.  When stopping to use ATM's choose well lit and highly visible areas.  Never leave your car running while filling up or just to "run" into a store.  Make sure your garage door is locked before exiting your vehicle.

What to do if it happens to you: If someone tries to take your car and your windows are rolled up and your doors are locked... Step on the gas and hit your horn.

If you are forced from you car and a child is in the car... YELL "There's a child in the car!"

If the perpetrator has a weapon or you feel you are in danger... Do not argue or resist.

If your vehicle is taken: Remain calm.  Call the police department immediately.  Give a full description of your car.  (Do you know your license number?)  Give a full description of the perpetrator - "sex, age, race, hair, and eye color, any special features, clothes, etc..." Give the direction of flight and if any weapon was used or threatened.

Reduce your risk - remember carjackers look for areas of opportunities such as: Intersections controlled by stop lights or signs garage and parking lots for mass transit, shopping malls, and grocery stores.  Self serve gas stations and car washes.  ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) Residential driveways and streets as people get into and out of their car. Highway exits and entry ramps, or any place else that drivers slow down or stop.

Handgun Safety

Child-proof your weapon by placing a trigger guard on the weapon or by locking it up.

Owning a Handgun

The decision to own a handgun assumes you are prepared to undertake full-time responsibility for your weapon's safety and security.  You must protect yourself and your family members against misuse of the handgun by anyone who is either incompetent or unqualified to handle the weapon.  In particular, you must secure your handgun from theft and misuse.

You must also assume full-time responsibility for its safe handling and use, making sure you know how it works and how to maintain it.  You must also be aware of the circumstances in which you may legally use a handgun for self-defense.

You should understand that a handgun is a lethal weapon, capable of inflicting death and disabling injury on living targets.  If not treated with utmost caution and safety, it can accidentally discharge and result in tragic consequences for you and your family.  Studies show that accidental handgun deaths in the home occur most often while playing with the gun, examining or demonstrating the gun, and cleaning or repairing the gun.  According to the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, 12 American children die every day in handgun accidents, suicides and homicides.

Storage

As a handgun owner, safe and secure storage is one of the most important responsibilities that you assume.  Only you and your spouse should be aware of where your weapon is permanently stored.  It should not be within sight or reach of children, or accessible to burglars.

If children are in the home, a conscious effort by the gun owner should be made to assure that the weapon is locked and stored appropriately.  According to some laws now being passed, you may be guilty of a felony if you are found to have been negligent in storing your firearm and it was used by a minor to cause death or injury to another person.

We recommend that you:

  • Store your handgun, unloaded and uncocked, in a securely locked container.

  • Store and lock your handgun and its ammunition in separate locations.

  • Do not store your handgun among your valuables, such as jewelry or silver.

  • Do not store your handgun in a bedside table or under your mattress or pillow.

  • Child-proof your weapon by placing a trigger guard on the weapon or by locking it up.

Harvard School of Public health researchers found that over one-third of gun owners surveyed kept their weapons loaded and more than half kept them in unlocked places.

Firearms dealers are required to provide a gun locking device and warning at the time of sale.

Child-proof your handgun by removing all ammunition, opening up the action of the weapon and securing it with the locking device. There are several types of locking devices available.  Remember to lock your handgun before storing it in a locked container.

We recommend that you:

  • Always carry with you, on your key chain, the keys that open both the locked container that stores your handgun, and its padlock or trigger lock.

  • If you go on vacation, consider additional safe-keeping measures for your handgun while you are away.

  • Store ammunition in a locked container, away from heat or moisture.

  • Never throw out ammunition in the trash.

  • Record your handgun's serial number and keep it in a safety deposit box.

Maintenance

Another important responsibility you undertake, if you choose to own a handgun, is to lean and maintain your weapon on a monthly basis.  Proper functioning and safety of a handgun can be impaired by rust, dirt or improper maintenance procedures.  As with any high quality piece of equipment, your handgun must be cared for according to the manufacturers directions.

We recommend that you:

  • Always check twice prior to cleaning your handgun to make sure that it is unloaded.

  • Clean your handgun after each use according to the manufacturers directions with the proper equipment.

  • Clean your handgun alone and in a safe place, preferable at any approved shooting range. Double check to make sure that the weapon is unloaded!

  • Store your handgun in a location that protects it from excessive temperature changes or moisture.

  • Wrap your handgun in a silicone cloth or moisture-barrier paper.  Never wrap it in a newspaper, sock, or leather holster. These attract moisture.

  • Do not make repairs on, or modifications to your handgun.  These should only be made by the manufacturer or a qualified gunsmith.  Any modification to your handgun may be potentially dangerous and may void your warranty.

  • Be sure to replace unused ammunition periodically.

  • Training: If you own a handgun you have a responsibility to obtain proper training

Any safety courses should present relevant information as well as ample opportunities for you to practice firing and cleaning your handgun. The course should:

  • Provide information describing the parts and workings of the handgun, how to load and unload it, and the location and operation of its safety features.

  • Teach specific procedures for proper care, cleaning and maintenance for the handgun.

  • Describe safety rules for handgun home storage and use, while transporting the weapon and while on the range.

  • Specify the legal requirements and moral considerations related to handgun ownership, use, possession, sale and transfer.

  • Teach the principles of marksmanship: trigger control, grip and site alignment and site picture.

  • Provide opportunities for you to fire a minimum of four hundred rounds of ammunition at the pistol range.

  • Require you to pass a written test demonstrating your comprehension of course material.

  • Require you to pass a performance test demonstrating your ability to handle, use and clean the handgun properly.

  • Handling and Use

You must be absolutely certain that your handgun is unloaded whenever you or a family member handles it.  Further, it should never be displayed at a social gathering or be made a topic of conversation.  It should never appear accompanying the use of drugs or alcohol.

We recommend that the following safety rules be strictly enforced:

  • Always treat every handgun as if it were loaded.

  • Never point a gun (whether loaded or unloaded) at another person or at yourself.

  • Always keep the firearm pointed in safe direction. You must also take into consideration that a bullet can ricochet or glance off of any object it strikes, and that bullets can penetrate walls, ceilings, floors, and windows.

  • Give your handgun to someone only if you verify that it is unloaded and the cylinder or action is open. Take a handgun from someone only after you verify that it is unloaded and the cylinder or action is open.

  • Always be certain that your target and the surrounding area are safe before firing.

  • Before firing your weapon you should routinely make sure that your firearm is in good working order and that the barrel is clear of dirt and obstructions.

  • Load your handgun only if and when you intend to fire it.

  • Assume your handgun's safety devices will fail.

  • When handling or cleaning your handgun, never leave it unattended - It should be in your view and under your supervision at all times.

  • The most dangerous handgun is an "unloaded" handgun.

Know the Laws

  • You must be 21 years old to purchase a handgun.

  • Upon purchase of a handgun the gun seller is required to register it with the local authorities.

  • If you owned a handgun prior to October 1, 1995, you do not need a permit to keep a handgun in your home.  However, all purchases of handguns since that time require the buyer to have a valid permit to carry a pistol or revolver at the time of purchase (even if you do not plan to carry it).

  • You need to be at least 21 years of age to apply for a permit.

  • Anyone found guilty of carrying a handgun without a permit is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and a minimum one year prison term.

  • Criminally negligent storage of a firearm is a felony.

  • Altering or removing an identification mark on a firearm is illegal and may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison term of up to 5 years.

How to Prevent Gang Membership

These are some steps that parents, community members and educators can take to steer young people away from drugs, crime, disorder and gang membership:

Talk to your teenager. Discuss the consequences of becoming involved in a gang or hate group.

Involve your children in family and outside activities.

Take an active role in your child's education and progress.

Become acquainted with the resources available to you such as PAL (Police Athletic League), Mentoring Program, Board of Young Adult Police Commissions and other activities and programs coordinated through the Family Services Unit of the New Haven Police Department.  Many community-based organizations offer services geared toward positive youth development as well.

Work with your community and government, including the police, in identifying and intervening in gang and hate group activities before they become a major problem in your neighborhood.

Respond quickly in removing graffiti, a means of gang advertisement, and repairing vandalism in your neighborhood.  A prompt response signals we have pride in our neighborhoods, and that we will not relinquish our communities and quality of life.

Report suspected gang activity immediately. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1.  For non-emergencies to report problems, call your local police number.  Also in a non-emergency situation, you can contact the department's Narcotic division.

Identity Theft

In the course of the day you may write a check at the drugstore, charge tickets to a concert, rent a car, call home on your cell phone, or apply for a credit card.  Chances are you don't give these routine transactions a second thought. But others may.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, affecting half a million new victims each year.  Identity theft or identity fraud is the taking of a victim's identity to obtain credit, credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from a victim's existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy, or obtain a job using the victim's name.  Thousands of dollars can be stolen without the victim knowing about it for months or even years.

The imposter obtains your social security number, your birth date, and other identifying information such as your address and phone number.  With this information and a fake driver's license, they can apply in person for instant credit or through the mail posing as you.  They often claim they have moved and provide their own address.  Once the first account is opened, they can continue to add to their credibility.

They get the information from your doctor, lawyer, school, health insurance carrier, and many other places. "dumpster divers" pick up information you may have thrown away, such as utility bills, credit card slips, and other documents.

TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT FROM HAPPENING TO YOU

  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you are dealing with.  Identity thieves will pose as bank representatives, Internet service providers, and even government officials to get you to reveal identifying information.

  • Shred all documents, including all pre-approved credit applications received in your name, insurance forms, bank checks and statements you are discarding, and other financial information.

  • Do not use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, or a similar series of numbers as a password for anything.

  • Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry. Take what you'll actually need.  Don't carry your social security card, birth certificate, or passport, unless necessary.

  • Do not put your social security number on your checks or your credit receipts.  If a business requests your social security number, give them an alternate number and explain why.  If a government agency requests your social security number, there must be a privacy notice accompanying the request.

  • Do not put your telephone number on your checks.

  • Be careful using ATMs and phone cards.  Someone may look over your shoulder and get your PIN numbers, thereby gaining access to your accounts.

  • Make a list of all of your credit card account numbers and bank account numbers with customer service phone numbers and keep in a safe place.

  • When you order new credit cards in the mail or previous ones have expired, watch the calendar to make sure you get the card within the appropriate time.  If the card is not received within that time, call the credit card grantor immediately to find out if the card has been sent.  If you don't receive the card, check to make sure a change of address was not filed.

  • Do not put your credit card number on the Internet unless it is encrypted on a secured site.

  • Pay attention to your billing cycles.  Follow up with creditors if bills don't arrive on time.  A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address.

  • Cancel all credit cards that you have not used in the last six months. Open credit is a prime target.

  • Order your credit card report at least twice a year. Reports should be obtained from all three major sources: Equifax at 800-685-1111; Experian at 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); or TransUnion at 800-680-7293.

  • Correct all mistakes on your credit report in writing.  Send the letters return receipt requested. Identify the problems item by item and send with a copy of the credit report back to the credit reporting agency.  You should hear back from the agency within 30 days.

  • Write to Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735 to get your name off direct mail lists.

Guidelines for Home Security

Keeping your home secure is not hard to do.  Most home security strategies are easy and don't cost a lot of money.  When you think about home security take your house, yard, and even your neighborhood into account.  Pay close attention to the vulnerable areas.  A good rule of thumb is if you are locked out of your house and you can break into it without much trouble, then so can a burglar!

This survey will help you see where your home security needs improvement.  It will take you step by step through your home, as well as your neighborhood and will also give you security tips on how or why you should do things.  So follow along and see how well you do.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Clean well-lighted neighborhoods can help deter crime.  It should be no surprise that a relationship exists between human behavior and the physical environment.  Our streets and neighborhoods send clear messages about how we are to behave.  Criminals are not exempt from this relationship.  Dark, dirty and neglected alleys may cause fear in the law-abiding person.  A criminal, on the other hand, may see the same alleyway as an excellent place to commit a crime.

Neighbors that work together at keeping their properties neat and well maintained send a silent but strong message that they care about what happens on their street.  Take a look at your neighborhood as a stranger might see it and decide if it gives you a sense of safety and well being.

Also consider how your neighbors interact with one another.  When neighbors talk to each other barriers are broken down, people feel safer and there is more willingness to work together.

Answer the following questions and see how your street measures up.  The more questions that are answered "Yes," the safer the street.

1. Do you call the Parks Department to trim back trees when they are overgrown and hinder maximum street illumination?

2. Is your street free from litter and garbage?

3. Are the sidewalks maintained?

4. Do you report potholes to Public Works?

5. Do you report all illegal dumping to the Police Department?

6. Do you call the police to have abandoned cars on your street towed away?

7. Do your neighbors look out for one another?

8. Do you leave an extra house key with a trusted neighbor instead of under a mat or other hiding place that can easily be discovered?

9. Do you have an active block watch to help communication among neighbors?

10. Do your neighbors watch your home when you are away?

11. Do you have neighborhood clean-ups to help maintain the up-keep of the street?

In the House
Lastly, what does the inside of your house tell a burglar? Burglaries usually happen when no one is at home. So it's important to make the house look "lived in" or as if someone is there. You can use several visual cues to achieve this. Also, if someone does enter the house, additional safety measures should be taken. Look over the following questions and see how many you can answer with a "Yes."

1. Are some of your inside lights on automatic timers so the house never looks dark and empty?

2. Are your shades or curtains drawn in the evening so those passersby cannot see your belongings?

3. Do you leave a radio or television on while you are out so that sound is emanating from the house?

4. Do you rent a safety deposit box to store valuables that you do not often use?

5. Do you engrave items such as televisions, computers, VCRs, etc. with your driver's license number (including state abbreviation) to make your belongings easier to trace if they are stolen and recovered by the police?

6. If you have a safe at home is it appropriate for what you are protecting (fire safe for documents, money safe for cash and small valuables)?

Conclusion
We can never prevent all burglaries but we can reduce the chances of it happening. Don't make it easy for the thief. Take control and help keep your home, as well as your neighborhood safe.

Organizing Community Events

Good planning is essential to an event's success. This comprehensive checklist can be adapted to any type of event - a crime prevention fair, a Neighborhood Watch meeting, or a bicycle rodeo. How far in advance you need to start working depends on the project's complexity. Even though committees will do most of the work, there should be a chairperson who will oversee the entire process. Don't forget that local businesses can donate a majority of the items you will need. Use these planning weeks as approximate guidelines. The sooner you start the better.

16 to 20 Weeks Ahead

  • Decide who is going to oversee (chair) the event.

  • Recruit volunteers.

  • Bring everyone together and decide the following:

    • What do you want to happen at your event?

    • When do you want to have your event? Are there any other events that will conflict? Do you have a rain date?

    • Where are you going to hold your event? Consider seating, parking, accessibility for people with disabilities, and transportation.

    • How much money do you need? How can you get things donated?

    • Whom do you want to attend? How many people can you accommodate?

    • How long is your event going to last?

    • Are you going to need any permits?

    • Who is going to be on what committee? Committees usually include such groups as Awards and Prizes, Entertainment and Publicity, Exhibits and Information, Food and Decorations, and Invitations and Hospitality. Establish membership and appoint chairs with the time, energy, and commitment to do the work.

12 to 16 Weeks Ahead

  • The Exhibitors and Information Committee should send out letters of invitation to groups they would like to have as exhibitors. Include the purpose, date, time, place, how it's going to benefit the exhibitors, and sign-up requirements.

8 to 12 Weeks Ahead

Chairperson's Checklist
Recruit an honorary chair to help publicize and draw people to your event. Local celebrities or TV and radio station personalities are good choices. Meet with committee heads regularly, offer help when needed, and monitor progress with tasks. Identify potential partners and local celebrities with help from the honorary chair.

Invitations & Hospitality Committee Checklist
Decide whether you are going to use fliers, signs, or other notices; work with the Publicity Committee. Post fliers 4 to 6 weeks before the event. Invite local celebrities. Estimate how many people will be attending and tell the Food Committee. Ensure you have adequate parking, handicapped access, restrooms, and a secure place for coats (don't forget hangers). Have on hand a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, a cellular phone (or access to a phone), and emergency phone numbers. Make name tags and site maps for all workers and exhibitors. Let the Decorations Committee know how many tables are needed for registration. Recruit volunteer greeters and runners for last-minute needs. Designate greeters to accompany celebrity guests.

Awards & Prizes Committee Checklist
Decide criteria for awards and recruit judges. Arrange for the Honorary Co-Chair or other community leader to present the awards.

Entertainment & Publicity Committee Checklist

  • Plan activities and entertainment. Arrange for stage, sound, and audio visual equipment as required.

  • Reproduce educational "take one" brochures and bookmarks.

  • Develop a media contacts list. Call radio and television stations and newspapers to introduce yourself and the event.

  • Prepare a press release to send out one week before the event. Put together an information kit for the media that includes a press release, fliers, bookmarks and brochures, list of sponsors and participating celebrities.

  • Recruit a volunteer photographer to take pictures at event.

  • Be available on the day of the event to meet and greet press representatives and answer questions.

Exhibits & Information Committee Checklist

  • Follow up on invitations to exhibitors and verify who will come. Send confirmation letters.

  • Estimate the total number of exhibitors and determine space/table requirements. Be sure to include a display for "take one" brochures and product give-aways! Let the Decorations Committee know how many tables and chairs you will need and work with them on a layout.

  • Recruit volunteers to help exhibitors set up, load, and unload materials.

Food & Decorations Committee Checklist

  • Decide what decorations you will have and where they go.

  • Map where exhibits, food, entertainment, registration, etc. will be set up. Pay attention to the location of electrical outlets.

  • Make promotional signs, directional signs, and posters.

  • Decide if you are going to serve refreshments. If you don't want to provide refreshments, you could invite local restaurants to sell food.

  • Arrange for all required tables, chairs, napkins, cups, plates, and utensils for food, hospitality, exhibitors, and awards.

  • Recruit volunteers for pre-event set-up and post-event clean-up.

1 Week Ahead

  • Send press release out to radio, television, and print media. Call key press contacts to confirm coverage.

  • Purchase non-perishable food and utensils, etc.

  • Confirm all deliveries and pick ups.

1 Day Ahead

  • Pick up orders and arrange deliveries as appropriate.

  • Test audio visual and sound equipment.

  • Set up tables and decorate if possible.

  • Purchase all perishable food items and/or ensure that all food is prepared.

  • Do a final review to make sure all checklist items are completed.

The Big Day!

  • Install or complete decorations.

  • Set up tables, stage, and audio-visual equipment.

  • Ensure that first aid kit, fire extinguishers, phone, and emergency phone numbers are readily accessible, but out of the way.

  • Ensure that volunteer greeters, helpers, and runners are on site, briefed, and ready to go.

  • Assemble all materials for activities.

  • Relax and have a great event!

  • Don't forget to thank all donors, workers, partners, and celebrities at the event.

After the Event

  • Clean-up after and return all borrowed equipment and supplies.

  • Send thank-you notes to all who worked so hard to make it a success.

  • Make notes for next year's event. Jot down suggestions of things to do differently and things that went well.

  • Meet with your committee chairpersons for a post-event evaluation.

Blocking Off The Street

  • Announce the street will be closed at least three days in advance to allow residents to make alternate parking plans. No vendor's permit is required as long as nothing is being sold.

  • Alcoholic beverage may not be consumed on city streets. Streets must be left in good condition.

  • For safety sake, keep the party away from main intersections.

  • Pick a lightly traveled one-way street. Sorry, but no main thoroughfares can be blocked off. Now...

How to Get Approval
Laws vary and may involve several agencies.  Call your local government for instructions.  It probably won't take more than a few minutes to process your application at each location but, just to be on the safe side, start the application process at least two weeks in advance of the party. Each City agency must approve the application and will do so in the interest of overall public safety.

Personal Safety for Adults

Knowing how to protect yourself can reduce the opportunity of becoming a victim of crime. Street safety can reduce the opportunity for muggers and purse-snatchers. Home safety can reduce the opportunity for unwanted intruders.

3 BASIC RULES
DO stay alert. Keep your mind on your surroundings, who's in front of you and who's behind you. Don't get distracted.

DO communicate the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going. Stand tall, walk purposefully, and make eye contact with people around you.

DO trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave.

When Walking, Jogging or Bicycling

  • Carrying a shriek alarm, pepper spray or stun gun.

  • Plan the safest route to your destination. Choose well-lighted streets and avoid passing vacant lots, alleys, or construction sights. Take the long way if it's the safest way.

  • Know your neighborhood. Find out what stores and restaurants are open late and where the fire stations are.

  • Don't walk alone at night and always avoid areas where there are few people.

  • Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or side trouser pocket, not in a rear trouser pocket.

  • Don't flaunt expensive jewelry or clothing.

  • Walk in the middle of the sidewalk. Avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys.

  • Wear clothes and shoes that give you freedom of movement.

  • Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.

  • Don't overburden yourself with packages and groceries that make it hard to react.

  • Have your house or car key in hand as you approach your home or vehicle.

  • If you suspect someone is following you on foot, cross the street and head for the nearest well lighted populated area. Walk quickly or run to a house or store to call police. If you're really scared, scream for help.

  • If someone is following you in a car, change directions immediately and make a visible point of writing down the license number.

  • Be careful when people stop you for directions. Always reply from a distance and never get too close to the car.

While Driving

  • Keep your car in good running condition to avoid breakdowns.

  • Plan your route in advance, particularly on long or unfamiliar trips. Have enough gas and money to get there and back.

  • Drive with all the car doors locked. Keep windows rolled as high as possible.

  • If your car breaks down, raise the hood, use warning triangles, flares, or tie a white cloth to the door handle. Stay in the locked car. When someone stops, ask him or her to phone for help.

  • Consider carrying a cellular phone.

  • Park in well-lighted areas that will still be well lighted when you return. Lock your car.

  • Be particularly alert and careful when using underground and enclosed parking garages.

  • If you are being followed while driving, drive to the nearest fire station, open gas station or other business where you can safely call the police. Try to get the car's license number and description. If no safe areas are near, honk the horn repeatedly and turn on your emergency flashers.

When at Home

  • Make sure all the windows and the doors in your home can be locked securely, particularly sliding glass doors. Use the locks! Keep entrances well lighted.

  • Use a peephole or an intercom to find out who is outside before opening the door.

  • Check the identification of any sales or service person before letting him/her in.

  • Don't let any strangers into your home - no matter what the reason or how dire the emergency is supposed to be. Offer to make an emergency phone call while they wait outside.

  • Never give the impression that you are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door.

  • Don't give any information to "wrong number" callers. Ask what number they are dialing.

  • Check references of any person calling about a survey or credit card before volunteering information.

  • Your answering machine should never indicate you are not at home. The recorded message should tell the caller that that you are unable to come to the phone at the moment and if they leave a message you will get back to them.

  • Hang up immediately on any threatening or harassing phone call. If the call persists, call the phone company and the police.

  • Use only your last name and initials on your door, mailbox, and in the phone book.

  • Do not leave house keys in the mailbox, planter, or under the doormat. Give a duplicate key to a trusted friend or neighbor in case you are locked out.  Use an effective Key Hider.

  • Replace old locks when you move to a new house or apartment.

  • Pull your shades after dark.

  • If you come home and find a door or window open or signs of forced entry, don't go in. Go to the nearest phone and call the police.

Jogging, Biking and Other Outdoor Activities

  • Choose routes in advance that are safe and well populated.

  • Vary your route and schedule.

  • Avoid jogging and biking at night.

  • Know businesses that are open and locations of fire stations and emergency call boxes.

  • Consider carrying a shriek alarm.

  • Consider not wearing stereo headphones. It's safer to be alert.

Buses and Elevators

  • Try to use well-lighted and frequently used stops.

  • Try to sit near the bus driver. Don't fall asleep. Stay alert!

  • While waiting, stand near other people.

  • If you are verbally or physically harassed, attract attention by talking loudly or screaming.

  • Be alert to who gets off the bus with you. If you feel uncomfortable, walk directly to a place where there are other people.

  • Look into the elevator before getting in to be sure no one is hiding.

  • Stand near the controls.

  • Get off is someone suspicious enters. If you're worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something and don't get on.

  • If you're attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.

What if it Happens to You?

  • Remain calm, try not to panic or show signs of anger or confusion.

  • If the attacker is only after your purse or other valuables, don't resist. You don't want it to become a violent confrontation.  If it is more than that be prepared to fight for your life.  Pepper spray  Stun gun

  • Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of your attacker: age, race, complexion, body build, height, weight, type and color of clothing.

  • Call the police immediately, identify yourself and your location, and request assistance.

Caring for Yourself

Do you ever have to take care of yourself after school or while your parents are running an errand? Do you have to watch a brother or sister, too? Taking care of yourself is a big responsibility, but you can handle it if you follow these tips!

Make sure you know how to reach your parents at work and what to do in case of a fire or other emergency. Learn all the local emergency phone numbers - 911 for fire, medical, and police. Make sure they're posted near all the phones in your home.

Be sure you know how to use the telephone correctly and how to make local, long distance and emergency calls and how to get the operator.

Check in with Mom or Dad or a trusted neighbor as soon as you get home.

Make sure you know how to work the door and window locks and always lock the door after you come in.

When you're home alone, never open the door for anyone you don't know well or are unsure of.

With Mom or Dad, select a place to keep keys and emergency money.

Never go anywhere with another adult, even one who says he or she has been sent by your parents. You and your parents might want to adopt a secret "code word" as a signal if another adult has to pick you up.

If anything happens to you while you're alone that makes you feel uncomfortable, tell an adult you trust. Always! Every time!

Never let a caller at the door or on the phone know that you're alone. Always say, "Mom can't come to the phone (or door) right now."

Out and Around

While you're walking or playing outdoors, remember: Always travel with a friend. Two heads are better than one.

A stranger is anyone you and your parents don't know well.

You must never take candy, money, medicine, or anything else from a stranger.

Avoid strangers who seem to be hanging around the playground or school. Tell your teacher or another adult you trust.

When frightened run to the nearest person you can find - a police officer, a person working in a yard, or a neighborhood house or store.

If a stranger in a car bothers you, turn and run in the opposite direction.

It's not easy for a car to change directions suddenly.

Strangers can be tricky - they can ask you to walk with them to "show" them something, they can offer to pay for your video game, or ask you to help them find a lost pet. Don't be fooled!

Have your Mom or Dad - or both of them - walk your school route with you to make sure it's safe.

Always stick to the same safe route in going and coming from school, and never hitchhike - never!

Don't tell anyone your name and address when you're walking, and don't think that because someone knows your name that they know you - maybe they're just looking at your name printed on your tee-shirt or backpack.

If a stranger tries to follow you on foot or tries to grab you, scream and make lots of noise. The stranger doesn't want any attention.

Some adults can tell you what to do - such as a teacher or police officer. But no adult can tell you what to do just because he or she is bigger than you. If you are ever in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, you have the right to say "NO" loud and clear.

Felling funny about being touched?
You kids know a lot about safety rules, but I want to be sure you know these special rules.

Remember that you're allowed to say "NO" loud and clear if any adult wants to touch a part of your body and you don't want them to - even if it's someone you know.

If you feel "funny" about what somebody older than you says or does to you, be sure to tell an adult you trust. Tell them exactly what makes you feel "funny."

Remember that you can trust most adults. They want you to be safe and they want to know about things that happen to you that you don't like. They have to know because if adults do things to children that they shouldn't, it takes another adult to get them to stop.

Things You and Your Neighbors Can Do To Prevent Crime

  • Work with public agencies and other organizations - neighborhood-based or community-wide - on solving common problems. Don't be shy about letting them know what your community needs.

  • Make sure that all the youth in the neighborhood have positive ways to spend their spare time, through organized recreation, tutoring programs, part-time work, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Make sure your streets and homes are well lit.

  • Build a partnership with police, focused on solving problems instead of reacting to crises. Make it possible for neighbors to report suspicious activity or crimes without fear of retaliation.

  • Take advantage of "safety in numbers" to hold rallies, marches, and other group activities to show you're determined to drive out crime and drugs.

  • Clean up the neighborhood! Involve everyone - teens, children, senior citizens. Graffiti, litter, abandoned cars, and run-down buildings tell criminals that you don't care about where you live or each other. Call the city public works department and ask for help in cleaning up.

  • Ask local officials to use new ways to get criminals out of your building or neighborhood. These include enforcing anti-noise laws, housing codes, health and fire codes, anti-nuisance laws, and drug-free clauses in rental leases.

  • Work with schools to establish drug-free, gun-free zones; work with recreation officials to do the same for parks.

  • Develop and share a phone list of local organizations that can provide counseling, job training, guidance, and other services that neighbors might need.

What should I do if my car is missing?
Contact the local police - 911. The registered owner of the vehicle should be the one to make the call. Report the theft to your insurance company as well.
 

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