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Safety Tips

Auto Theft

Be Alert
  • Lock your car. Take your keys.
  • Never hide a spare key on the vehicle.
  • Roll up windows completely.
  • Remove keys from ignition.
  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • When parking in attended lots or parking garages, leave only the ignition key with the attendant.
  • Park as close as possible to an open business.
  • Do not leave valuables in sight to tempt a thief.
  • Always park with the wheels turned toward the curb.
  • Back your car into the driveway. If you drive forward into the driveway, a car thief could raise the hood to hot wire the car, and it would appear to the neighbors that you were just working on the car.
  • If you have a garage, use it.
  • Lock your garage door.
  • Never leave your car running while it is unattended.
Anti-Theft Devices
Common sense and a layered combination of anti-theft devices are recommended to help prevent your vehicle from being stolen. All vehicle theft prevention equipment helps deter criminals. The following are types of anti-theft devices that can be used to protect your vehicle:
  • Steering Wheel Lock: A long metal bar with a lock that fits on a steering wheel and is designed to prevent the steering wheel from being turned. Also acts as a visual deterrent for thieves looking in car windows. Cost range: $25 to $100.
  • Car Alarms: Typically equipped with motion sensors, impact sensors and a loud siren or series of tones in the 120-decibel range. Cost range: $150 to $1,000.
  • Kill Switches: A hidden switch that needs to be flipped on for the car to start, otherwise preventing the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine. Cost range: $10 to $125.
  • Electronic Tracking Devices: An electronic transmitter hidden in the vehicle emits a signal that is picked up by the police or a monitoring station. Cost range: $400 to $1,500.
  • Electronic Keys: Pre-installed electronic anti-theft systems that allow the vehicle to operate only with a correctly coded key. Cost range: Standard equipment on some cars.
  • Steering Column Armored Collars: Prevent thieves from breaking into the steering column to "hot-wire" vehicles, some are installed permanently and others must be installed manually each time the driver leaves the vehicle. Cost range: $100 to $200 installed.
  • Tire Locks: Similar to the circular steel "boots" used by many larger city police departments; make the car nearly impossible to move. Cost range: $80 to $200.
  • Window Etching: Vehicle identification number (VIN) etched onto the windows, as well as other parts of the car, to discourage thieves and aid in recovering the vehicle if it is stolen. Cost range: $20 to $100 (some vehicle theft prevention groups provide etching for free).
  • Theft Deterrent Decals: Typical decals identify the vehicle as protected by either an alarm system or a national theft prevention company. Cost range: $2 to $5.

Baby Sitting

Baby-sitting is a great way to earn money, help neighbors, and gain some job experience. But it's also a big responsibility to be in charge of someone else's children in an unfamiliar home, and it can be a bit scary.
Here are some guidelines to help you be a first-rate baby-sitter:
Getting the Job
  • Know your employer. Baby sit only for people you or your parents know, or for whom you have a personal reference. Answering newspaper ads may not be safe.
  • When someone asks you to baby sit, find out what time the parents expect to be back and tell them how much you charge and whether you have a curfew. Discuss how you will get there and back safely.
  • Leave the name, address, and phone number of where you will be sitting with your parents or a trusted friend. Tell them what time your employer expects to be home.
On the Job
  • Consider taking a short nap before going to work so you will be alert and wide-awake on the job.
  • Be sure you know the locations of all phones in the home in case you need one quickly. If there is an emergency alarm system, learn how to use it.
  • Know how to work the window and door locks in the house. Use them! Make sure the outside light is on.
  • Ask about smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. If you are in an apartment, find out where the emergency exits are.
  • Ask about the children's bedtimes, favorite toys and stories, and what they eat. Check on food allergies and medication. Find out what you are allowed to eat and drink.
  • Be sure to clean up after the children and after yourself. Wash all dishes, cups, and utensils that you use, and put all toys back in the proper receptacles.
  • Get permission and instructions on using the videocassette recorder, stereo, and other appliances.
  • Do not tie up the phone talking to your friends. Your employers may want to check in or call about a change in plans.
  • A friend should not come over to keep you company unless your employer agrees in advance that it is okay.
In An Emergency
  • If you suspect a fire, get the children and yourself out. Go to a neighbor's or public phone and call the fire department. Then call your employer.
  • Stay calm. Children probably won't panic if you don't.
  • Special Tips for Daytime Baby-Sitters
  • If you have children out in the back yard, make sure the front door is locked.
  • If you take children for a walk or to the park, lock all doors and windows before you leave.
  • Never take the children to a deserted park or out alone after dark. Be wary of friendly strangers. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, trust your instincts take the children and leave.
  • If anything seems unusual when you return to the home like a broken window, a screen ripped, or a door a jar - don't go in. Go to a neighbor's home or public phone and call the police. You don't need a coin to dial 9-1-1 or the operator.

Bicycle Safety

Your safety depends a lot on you. An expert bike driver knows that biking safety is the only way to go! Follow these rules each time you ride:
  • Be sure the bike is the right fit.
  • Maintain the bicycle in top condition at all times.
  • Ride on the right side of the road.
  • Obey traffic rules.
  • Use bicycle lanes where available.
  • Use hand signals.
  • Watch out for pedestrians.
  • Travel single file.
  • Walk the bicycle across busy intersections.
  • Always wear an approved bicycle helmet.
  • Avoid riding at night but if you must, have reflectors on the bicycle and wear light colored clothing.

Identity Theft Prevention

Identity-Theft is the fastest growing crime in America, affecting approximately 900,000 new victims each year!
Preventative Measures
Your greatest asset for securing your good name is understanding where the thieves get your information. Here are a few of the many ways thieves can obtain your personal identifying information:
  • Coming into possession of your lost or stolen wallet or purse.
  • Stealing your mail, or diverting it to another mailbox via a change of address request.
  • "Dumpster Diving" into your trash and gathering important documents.
  • "Pretext" calls where the thief poses as your bank, Internet service provider, or other organization with which you may or may not have had financial dealing and they call you to "verify your account information" because of a problem they had with their records system.
  • Other crimes such as burglary or breaking into a vehicle where the thief looks to steal financial information, wallets, purses, or other items containing such information.
  • Internet transactions on unsecured sites or with illegitimate companies posing as a reputable "safe" business with which you may do business.
Practice these simple steps in protecting your personal information:
Protect your Social Security number, credit card numbers, account passwords and other personal information
Use common sense, and be suspicious when things don't seem right. Never divulge your information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call. If personal information is requested ask questions. It is your right to know why it's needed, how it will be used, and who needs it.
If you get an unsolicited offer that sounds too good to be true it probably is! If a caller claims to represent your financial institution, the police department or some similar organization and asks you to "verify" (reveal) confidential information, hang up fast and consider reporting the incident. Real bankers and government investigators don't make these kinds of calls.
Minimize the damage in case your wallet gets lost or stolen
Don't carry around more checks, credit cards or other bank items than you really need. Limit the number of credit cards you carry by canceling the ones you don't use. Don't carry your social security number in your wallet or have it pre-printed on your checks. Pick passwords and Personal Identification (PIN) numbers that will be tough for someone else to figure out - don't use your birth date or home address, for example. Also, don't leave your wallet unattended in a store, restaurant, office or other public place even for a few minutes.
Protect your incoming and outgoing mail
Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered. If you're going on vacation have your mail held at your local post office or ask someone you know and trust to collect your mail. Deposit outgoing mail in the Postal Service's blue collection boxes, hand it directly to a mail carrier or take it to a local post office.
Keep thieves from turning your trash into their cash
"Dumpster Divers" pick through trash looking for pre-approved credit card applications and receipts, cancelled checks, bank statements, expired charge cards and other documents or information they can use to counterfeit or order new checks or credit cards. To keep these from happening use a "cross-cut" shredder to shred the items. "Cross-cut" shredding makes confetti out of the documents and makes it virtually impossible for the thief to paste them back together.
Practice home security
Safely store extra checks, credit cards, or other financial documents. Don't advertise to burglars that you're away from home. Use timers on your lights and temporarily stop delivery of your newspaper and mail or ask a trusted neighbor to pick up any items that may arrive unexpectedly at your home.
Pay attention to your bank account statements and credit card bills
Always check into discrepancies in your records or if you notice something suspicious, such as a missing payment or an unauthorized withdrawal. Also, contact your institution if a bank statement or credit card bill doesn't arrive on time because that could be a sign someone has stolen account information and changed your mailing address in order to run up big bills in your name from another location.
Review your credit report approximately once a year
Monitor it for accuracy, looking for unauthorized bank accounts, credit cards, purchases, etc. Look for anything suspicious in the section of your credit report that lists who has received a copy of your credit history. This may be an indication a thief is trying to obtain fraudulent benefits, or is merely casing you as a viable victim.
Practice "on-line" or Internet safety
Be suspicious of web offers that "seem too good to be true." Ensure the web site you are using is legitimate, or has been formally examined and certified secure and reliable by a legitimate certifying agency such as the Better Business Bureau or the like.

Use your credit card and social security number only when absolutely necessary and that the web site and you are using secure communication links that are encrypted (scrambled). Again, keep your PIN numbers and passwords confidential, and don't write them down and leave them next to, on or near your computer.

Holiday Safety Tips

Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be wary of burglars, thieves, pickpockets, and other holiday grinches. Nothing can ruin the Christmas spirit faster than becoming the victim of a crime.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season! Follow these safety tips:
Home Safety
  • Whether you are leaving the house to go shopping or out for an evening of Christmas parties, lock your doors and windows!
  • Don't leave the drapes open with your presents in plain view.
  • It's better to scatter the gifts around the house, in closets or cupboards, where they can't be so easily seen.
  • If you are leaving town for the holidays, make sure your home appears occupied. Leave inside and outside lights on timers and have your neighbor pick up newspapers, mail, and take flyers off your door.
  • After Christmas, don't put out empty boxes advertising your new purchases. Break the boxes down and deposit them in your trash, recycle bin or dumpster away from your home.
Shopping Safety
  • Use the trunk of your car to keep your packages out of sight.
  • Don't overload yourself with packages.
  • If you must shop in the evening, shop with a friend.
  • Park in well-lighted areas, as close as possible to store entrances. Be particularly aware of persons in the parking lot, especially near your car.
  • Lock you car and make sure the windows are closed.
  • Carry only the charge cards you will need. Don't carry or flash large sums of cash.
  • Carry your purse next to your body with the purse flap against you. Men should carry their wallets in front or inside pockets.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Don't allow your attention to become distracted from your purse or packages.
  • Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated in a store or shopping mall.
  • Don't hesitate to notify store security if you see suspicious activity.
  • If you have to wait for a ride, wait in a busy, well-lighted place.
  • If you go to an automatic teller machine, try to do during daylight hours. If you must go at night, pick a machine that is well lighted and visible to passing traffic. If anyone is lurking near the machine, pass it up and find another.
  • If you are a victim of a crime, report it to police immediately.
Just by using a little planning and some good common sense, most holiday crimes can be avoided.

Vacation Security Tips

Vacations, whether alone or with the entire family, have become part of our way of life. Vacations are supposed to be a time for fun and relaxation. A time to "get away from it all." Unfortunately, there is no vacation spot in the world that is 100% safe from criminal activities. Therefore, the crime prevention measures that you incorporate into your daily routine must be incorporated into your vacation planning. Do not develop a false sense of security just because you are on vacation. Actually you should develop a greater awareness to your surroundings while in unfamiliar territory. Don't let your vacation be ruined by becoming another crime statistic. The following precautions will help you to have a safe and enjoyable vacation.

Before You Leave Home
  • Plan your trip and give the itinerary with emergency phone numbers to a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • Place identification tags on the inside and outside of your luggage. Use your first initial and last name only.
  • Install good locks on your doors and windows and be sure to use them.
  • Remove all exterior "hidden" house keys.
  • Make sure all valuables are engraved with your name and driver's license number.
  • Make a record of your credit card and travelers check numbers and keep it in a safe place.
  • Arrange for a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail, packages and newspapers on a daily basis.
  • Make arrangements to have your lawns mowed and watered.
  • Use timers for interior lights and radios. Make your house look "lived in."
  • Give your local law enforcement agency the dates that you will be out of town. As time permits, they will conduct extra patrols of your neighborhood.
  • Make arrangements for the care of your pets.
When Traveling
  • Prior to any long distance motor vehicle trips, have your vehicle serviced by a reputable mechanic.
  • Never carry large amounts of cash, use travelers checks.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Always check the interior of your vehicle before entering.
  • Do not stop and assist a stranded motorist. Go to the nearest phone booth and call for help.
  • Never let your gas tank get below one-fourth full.
  • Use well traveled roads and avoid shortcuts.
  • Keep your doors locked and windows up at all times.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.
  • Never advertise your plans for strangers. If you think you are being followed, drive to the nearest public area telephone and call the police.
  • Always park in well-lighted areas.
  • Always carry your purse or wallet with you.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk.
  • Engrave your car stereo, CB radio, car phone and other removable items with your name and driver's license number.
  • Avoid late night driving.
  • If lost, stop at a well-lighted service station for directions.
At The Hotel
  • Unpack and arrange your belongings so you can tell if anything is missing.
  • Lock your suitcases so they can't be used to carry your property out of your room.
  • Always take your cash, credit cards and car keys wit you when leaving your room.
  • Do not open your door to strangers. Look through the door viewer before opening your door.
  • Do not leave jewelry, cameras or other expensive items lying around your room. Use the hotel safe to store your valuables and extra cash.
  • Always use the hotel's auxiliary locking devices on the doors and windows. Consider purchasing and using portable locks and alarm devices.
  • When leaving, if the maid has cleaned your room, hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside of the door.
  • When you go out, leave a light and the radio on.
  • Take your room keys with you. Do not leave them at the front desk.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Notify the management of any suspicious persons in the area.
  • Do not give out your room number to strangers.
  • Report any missing items to hotel management and the police.
While Sightseeing
  • There is a safety in numbers. Tours should be taken with a group.
  • Verify the tour agency or guide is reputable.
  • Be wary of strangers who ask a lot of questions about you and your vacation plans.
  • Never carry large amounts of cash. Leave what you don't need in the hotel safe. Separate the larger bills from the smaller ones in order to avoid flashing all your bills in full public view.
  • Stay in public areas. Do not wander off from your tour group.
  • Looking lost will make you an easy target for crime. If you need directions ask a service station attendant. Do not ask pedestrians directions.
  • If renting a car, cover the car rental agency's name or logo with a piece of masking tape. A rented car is a good indication that you are a tourist.
  • Before leaving the hotel, ask if there are any areas of town that should be avoided.
  • Travel brochures and maps are a good indication that you are a tourist. When not in use, keep them in the glove compartment.
Remember, vacation planning, thought, and security awareness will reduce your chances of becoming the next victim of a crime.