No matter what season it is, there are easy steps that can be taken in daily life to reduce risks and increase personal safety. Here are suggestions from the Police Department Crime Prevention Unit. For more information, call (408) 615-4859.
In Your Home or Apartment
- Have lights at all entrances.
- Have a wide-angle door viewer on all exterior doors.
- Have good locks on all doors and windows and use them!
- Do not use your full name on your mailbox, in the telephone directory, or on your answering machine.
- Do not leave a schedule of your times away from home on your answering machine.
Know which of your neighbors you can trust and depend upon in an emergency.
Check who is at the door before opening it, and do not open the door to an unexpected visitor.
- Don’t hide extra keys in easily accessible places. Criminals will find them.
Ask for photo identification of all repair persons. If you are suspicious, call to verify employment. And remember that City personnel will not ask to enter your home to check pipes for water leaks, etc., unless you have called them, and City personnel expect you will ask to see a City identification card.
- Never give personal information to telephone solicitors.
- Consider creating a “safe room” with a separate telephone line or cellular phone, and strong locks. If someone breaks in, you can retreat there and call for help.
Do not let strangers into your home or apartment to use the telephone. Offer to make the call for them.
- Use security bars for added security on sliding exterior doors.
On the Street
- Walk confidently and with purpose.
- Never hitchhike! It’s not worth the risk!
- Be very careful using outside ATMs at night or in unfamiliar surroundings.
- When walking, stay in the middle of the sidewalk and walk facing oncoming traffic.
- Try not to overload yourself with packages or other items. Keep your hands as free as possible.
- Do not wear music headphones while walking or jogging.
- Do not read while walking or standing on a sidewalk; don’t be distracted.
- If you carry a purse or bag, carry it close to your body, preferably in front.
- Do not carry more money or credit cards than you need.
- Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In a Vehicle
- Keep your vehicle in good working order and the gas tank at least half full.
- When approaching your parked vehicle, visually check the area around the vehicle for any suspicious persons or activity. If you observe anything suspicious walk to where there are other people and call the police.
- Always park in visible, well-lighted areas.
- Have your keys ready when approaching your vehicle to reduce the time needed to enter.
- When operating your vehicle, keep the doors locked and the windows rolled up.
- Any valuables in your vehicle should be placed in the trunk or otherwise kept out of sight.
- When stopped at traffic lights or in traffic, allow space between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can drive away if necessary.
- If someone approaches your vehicle and attempts to enter, blow your horn to attract attention and drive away.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers.
- Do not open your window if someone approaches your vehicle to ask for directions, the time, etc. Keep the door locked.
- Never leave house keys attached to car keys at service stations or parking facilities.
- Do not stop for a stranded motorist. Instead, call the police for assistance.
- If your vehicle becomes disabled and help is not immediately available, raise the hood of the vehicle (if you can safely do so), use your hazard lights, contact the police or a tow service, and stay in the vehicle with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. If someone stops to assist you, ask them through the closed window to call the police.
- If you are being followed, don’t drive home. Go to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn to draw attention. Call the police from your cellular phone and provide them with the description of the person or vehicle following you, the license plate number, and location.
- Carry a flashlight, first aid kit, portable fire extinguisher, maps and a cellular phone in your vehicle.
- If you are driving somewhere you are not familiar with, plan your route and check a map before you start out.
On Public Transportation
- Beware of overheard conversations. Don’t tell anyone on the public transportation where you are going.
- Stay awake and alert.
- Have exact change ready.
- Sit as close to the driver as possible.
- Change seats if someone is making you feel uneasy.
- If you sense someone is following you when you get off, walk toward other people or to an open business.
In a Building
- Avoid isolated corridors or hallways.
- Be extra careful in stairwells and isolated or poorly lighted restrooms.
- Avoid entering an elevator which is occupied by only one other person who is a stranger.
- In an elevator, stand near the controls and locate the emergency button.
- If you are assaulted while in an elevator, hit the emergency or alarm button and press as many floor buttons as possible.
At Work or School
- Develop office safety procedures and know security contact information.
- Pay attention during school safety drills.
- Be aware of escape routes for emergencies.
- Report all suspicious people and activities to the proper authorities.
- Keep your purse, wallet, backpack, keys, or other valuable items with you at all times or locked up.
- In your office, check the identity of strangers. At school, report strangers on campus to school officials.
- Always let someone know where you will be or if you are coming home late, at school or working late, etc.
- Don’t work late alone. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation or ask security to escort you.
- Choose a well-lighted, well-guarded parking garage.
- Be observant and aware of your surroundings.
- Do not leave your children unattended.
- Do not leave your purse or bag unattended in a shopping cart.
- Request that a courtesy clerk assist you in carrying your shopping bags to your vehicle.