Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston sent the following safety tips to block watch captains, which we are sharing with you.
It’s the time of year when our calendars can become crazy with parties, shopping, travel, cultural events, and long to-do lists. Our normal routines are stretched and attention to our safety can suffer. We may be gone from home more in the upcoming weeks, so burglary prevention becomes important. Shipped packages and money/gift cards in the mail are popular targets for thieves. Crowds in shopping malls, downtown streets, the train station or airport provide pickpockets a target-rich environment. Door-to-door solicitors may pick this time of year to collect for charities, and yet we wonder if they are legitimate. In addition, too much holiday “cheer” can lead to unwise decisions and–in some cases–DUI arrests. At the risk of sounding like Debby Downer, please take a moment to review some of the following crime prevention tips, and/or forward these attached flyers to your neighbors and distribution lists.
Travel light: take only what you need when you are out. Leave the heavy purse behind and clean out your wallet of unneeded credit cards, medical cards, etc.
Dress the part: It’s darker now without our sunny Seattle skies, so make sure you can be seen by motorists. Are your shoes comfortable enough to allow you to move, kick, run if you had to? Long billowing scarves, umbrellas, certain kinds of hats can reduce the ability to see around you, or might give a mugger something by which to grab you. Leave the bling behind or under layers of clothing if you’ll be out walking around much.
Cell phones: “apple picking” is what some are calling the grabbing of iphones and other electronic devices. You may be asked by a stranger for the time, or if they can borrow your phone. Then boom, in a blink of an eye, they’re off and away with your device. While cell phones are a helpful safety device, street robbers love them, so don’t flash them around. Be mindful when using them in public places.
“What’s your location?” means being able to relay your location such as house number, business or street names, hundred block, intersections, landmarks, or mile markers. Make it a habit to know your location! This is key when making calls to 9-1-1. Seconds matter in emergencies. Help us get to you or the incident quicker. Stay on the line with the call taker until instructed to hang up.
If you will be out of town, please let your trusted neighbors know. Encourage them to keep an extra watch out for your home and let them know you want them to call 9-1-1 if something is suspicious. Enlist their help with picking up newspapers, checking for oversized mail, packages, and those pesky flyers left on doorknobs. On our block, we pick up each others’ parcels that have been left on a porch for safekeeping. You want to make your home look occupied (lights and radio on timers; have someone park in your driveway, bring in your garbage can/recycling bins, etc.) Getting a house sitter can be helpful. Watchful neighbors truly are your best alarm!
Car prowls: Thieves target all makes and models of vehicles looking for GPS devices, cellular phones, cameras, purses, garbage remotes, jackets. I know some parents who keep their kids’ holiday gifts in the trunk. Not good! Also, I’ve read a few police reports where people pack up their car the night before heading out on a trip, only to find the car was prowled over night. Leave your car empty; disable internal trunk releases and be consistent with any theft-deterrent device like the “club” or audible alarm.
Warming up the car: Vehicles left running and unattended while the heater and defroster kick in may be just the opportunity the auto thief needed.