Holiday Safety Tips
The holiday season is upon us and it is important to not let the giving spirit become a time of crime. Crooks love this festive event too with buglars, pickpockets, and opportunistic thieves taking advantage of unsuspecting shoppers caught in the hussle and bustle of stores, malls, and the inadvertant last minute rush to make purchases. By following a few simple safety precautions you can keep the joy and celebration from turning into a long and stressful event.
PROTECT YOUR HOME
Always keep your home locked and secured.
Be cautious of criminals posing as couriers delivering gifts as well as those asking for donations to phony charities.
Do not display presents in a window or where they can be seen from a window.
NEVER allow anyone you don’t know into your home.
Burglars watch trash pickup and take note of expensive electronics, toys, and other gift boxes. Avoid becoming an easy theft target by keeping post-holiday trash out of site until picked-up. Also keeping an eye out for persons suspiciously casing neighborhood and report anyone who is looking through trash cans.
AWAY and TRAVELING PRECAUTIONS
Leave several lights on timers and a TV or radio going while you are away.
Have a neighbor that you trust keep a watch on your home for you should you go on a trip for the holidays.
Don’t post your vacation plans on social media but rather wait until you return home.
Don’t allow newspapers to pile up outside by having delivery halted.
If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house and to possibly shovel piled up snow.
SHOPPING SAFETY and THEFT PREVENTION
Hide packages by not leaving boxes visible through your vehicle windows.
Park in well-lit areas and close the windows and lock your vehicle.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash and keep your purse close to you or wallet in your front pocket.
If you are shopping online, look for websites that are secure and do not respond to emails, pop-ups, or other requests for your password, address, or credit card information.
If you are shopping with children, keep and eye on them and teach them to go to a store clerk for help should they become lost.
When returning to your vehicle, have your keys in your hand and ready to open the door.
Everyday Safety Tips
- know his or her home address and phone number
- know at least one emergency contact's name and phone number
- know what a "safe stranger" is
- Don’t give out personal information about yourself, your family situation, your school, your telephone number, or your address.
- If you become aware of the sharing, use, or viewing of child pornography online, immediately report this to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
- When in chat rooms remember that not everyone may be who they say they are. For example a person who says "she" is a 14-year-old girl from New York may really be a 42-year-old man from California.
- If someone harasses you online, says anything inappropriate, or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, contact your Internet service provider.
- Know that there are rules many Internet Service Providers (ISP) have about online behavior. If you disobey an ISP's rules, your ISP may penalize you by disabling your account, and sometimes every account in a household, either temporarily or permanently.
- A friend you meet online may not be the best person to talk to if you are having problems at home, with your friends, or at school - remember the teenage "girl" from New York in Tip number three? If you can't find an adult in your school, church, club, or neighborhood to talk to, Covenant House is a good place to call at 1-800-999-9999. The people there provide counseling to kids, refer them to local shelters, help them with law enforcement, and can serve as mediators by calling their parents.
- If you are thinking about running away, a friend from online (remember the 14-year-old girl) may not be the best person to talk to. If there is no adult in your community you can find to talk to, call the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000. Although some of your online friends may seem to really listen to you, the Switchboard will be able to give you honest, useful answers to some of your questions about what to do when you are depressed, abused, or thinking about running away.
- Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- DO NOT....carry a bag that makes you a target. A bag that dangles from the shoulder can be easily yanked off your shoulder by someone coming up from behind.
- DO NOT....carry your bag in such a manner that you can't let it go if you have to. Many women have been injured because their own bags acted as handcuffs as a purse snatcher yanked it away.
- DO....be aware of your surroundings and carry your bag close to your body, tucked in the bend of your elbow.
- DO....minimize the amount of money and credit cards that you carry with you on a daily basis. Divide your money between pockets and bags.
- IF...you are the victim of a purse snatch do not fight to hold onto your bag, especially if there is a weapon involved.
- Avoid shortcuts that are not well traveled or well lit.
- Know what reputable stores are open in your neighborhood late at night. If you suspect that you are being followed stay away from lonely quiet blocks and head for the store you know to be open.
- When walking to your car or on your way home, keep your keys in your hand until you are safely inside for added protection.
- If someone drops you off at home by auto, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside.
- If a motorist bothers you while you are walking turn around and walk in the opposite direction of the car. Do this as often as necessary and he should get discouraged.
- If driving, keep windows rolled up, except for a small. ventilation space and keep your doors locked.
- If driving, if someone attempts to force you off the road, don't panic..... blow your horn constantly to attract attention. If you are forced over, as soon as you stop put your car in reverse and back away..... keep blowing the horn and moving the car as much as possible.
- If driving, and you suspect that someone is following you make a few turns down active streets if possible. If the auto you suspect is following you makes the same turns as you then head for the nearest police station, fire house or open store. Don't try to make it to your own quiet residential area.
- If a law enforcement gestures for you to pull over, wave into your review mirror to indicate you see him or her. Only pull over in a well traveled and well lit area. Law enforcement will understand this as a defensive measure.
- When stopping, try to park your car in a well lighted area, this is not only good from the standpoint of discouraging a personal attack on you but also for reducing the chance of auto theft. Look around before you get out of your car.
- Before getting into your car, look inside first to make sure no one is hiding in the back seat. When leaving your car, make sure it is locked.
- Have your key ready before you get to the front door.
- Make sure your entrance area is well lighted.
- If you live in an apartment don't be polite and hold the lobby door open for a stranger who has been waiting.
- List only your last name and first initial in your mailbox.
- Don't buzz someone inside unless you know them.
- If a stranger wants to use your phone for any kind of call from business to emergency ........ keep them out and you make the call for them! Any problems or in doubt? Call the police!
- If you arrive home and find your door open DO NOT GO INSIDE. Call the police from a pay phone or neighbor's house and ask them to meet you.
- Don't get on the elevator with a stranger if your own good judgment warns you against it.
- If you would feel more comfortable with an excuse to avoid embarrassment say something like "oh, I forgot my mail."
- Report crime immediately to Police. Call 911.
- Do not change.
- Do not wash or douche. Do not wash your hands as there may be evidence under your nails.
- Have a medical exam and internal gynecological exam as soon as possible, preferably accompanied by a police officer.
- Inform doctor of exact acts committed upon you and have him note any medical evidence of them.
- Semen smears must be taken by the doctor.
- Doctor should note any bruises or injuries (bleeding, lacerations, etc.) external or internal.
- Have the doctor test for sexually transmitted diseases (and pregnancy later, if relevant).
- Inform the police of all details of attack, however intimate, and of anything unusual you may have noted about the attacker. remember, what he said and how he said it may lead to his arrest.
- Show police any external bruises or injuries however minor, resulting from the attack. Also show them to a friend or relative who might be available as a corroborative witness at the trial.
- Give the undergarments to the police (for semen analysis).
- Give any torn or stained clothing to the police.
- When calm, make a written note of the events leading up to the of attack, any unusual details, etc.
- Remember, sexual assault is a terrible crime. But it's not your fault, and you didn't cause it to happen. Rape is against the law. You have the right to report this crime to the police, and you have the right to be treated fairly during the justice process.
- Sources: NYPD, American Academy of Family Physicians