Crime Prevention & Safety Tips
As part of our proactive approach to crime fighting, the Simpsonville Police Department offers the following crime prevention and safety tips:
Burglary & Theft
The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity. You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood and remember you can always remain anonymous!
- Light up your residence, lock your doors at all times, and call the Police when you see something suspicious.
- Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
- Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
- Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked.
- Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers to build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to pick them up regularly.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
- Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
- Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
- Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
- Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.
Don't Tempt a Thief:
- Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight
- Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
- Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
- Never leave notes on your door such as "Gone shopping" or "be back after 5:30pm."
Locks…Get the Best:
- No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
- Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
- When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.
Targeting the Outside:
- Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
- Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
- Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.
- Most windows can be pinned for security.
- Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.
- An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There are a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
- Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
- If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system - Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
Many individuals have alarm systems, but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or lawn sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.
If Your Home Is Broken Into:
If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
- Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
- Use a neighbor's phone or cell phone to call police.
- Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
- Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
- Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.
Other precautions you should take:
- Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other "secret" hiding places -- burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
- Keep a detailed inventory (preferably with photos) of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home - this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
- Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
- Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Mark your valuables with your driver's license number with an engraver you can borrow from someone. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
- Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. We can help you work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.
- Consider installing a burglar alarm system.
Tips on how to avoid car break-ins:
- Do not leave valuables in plain view: (GPS devices, lap tops, PDA's, cell phones, MP3's, wallets, purses)
- Do not leave windows or sunroof open.
- Do not leave doors unlocked.
- Do not leave keys in the vehicle.
- Do not leave the garage door opener in plain view.
- Do not leave out items with personal information.
- Do not move valuable items to the trunk while in public view.
- Slow Down and use common sense before you leave your car.
- If you do not have one already, have an alarm system installed on your car
Car Thefts Prevention
On a cold winter morning it might seem like a good idea to start your car and let it warm up while you finish getting ready for work or school, but the Simpsonville Police Department warns people to be extra careful if they do this. Unattended cars warming in driveways and parking lots are easy targets for car thieves.
Additional car theft crime prevention tips:
- If you warm up your car, use a second key to lock the running vehicle.
- Never leave your keys in the car or ignition.
- Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is in front of your home.
- Always park in busy, well-lighted areas.
- Install a mechanical device that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees.
- Investigate the purchase of an auto security system if you live in a high-theft area or drive a theft-prone vehicle.
- Carry your registration and insurance card with you. Don't leave personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
- Copy your license plate and vehicle identification (VIN) numbers on a card and keep them with your driver's license. If your vehicle is stolen, police will need this information promptly.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes across the United States. If you have ever been the victim of identity theft or a related crime you know that it takes countless hours to restore your good name and credit. In order to prevent this from occurring there are numerous identity theft protection services available. The Simpsonville Police Department will not recommend one single company, but would suggest going to the following link to see a comparison and reviews of the different ID protection services on the market.
Anyone can be the victim of identity theft. If you would like to protect your identity, please read over the Identity Theft Protection Reviews to assist you in choosing a product that best serves your needs. Read More: http://www.reviews.com/identity-theft-protection-services/
If your credit cards or bank account information has been compromised you would need to immediately notify your designated financial institution. In addition, contact one of the three (3) credit reporting agencies to report a potential identity theft and have an alert put on your account.
In order to prevent identity theft, the Simpsonville Police Department recommends running your credit report a minimum of once annually to try and locate any unusual or unwanted changes. This can be done online one (1) time annually free of charge (You can get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com)
Below are links to the three (3) primary Credit Reporting Agencies:
If you suspect that your Social Security Number (SSN) has been compromised please visit: Social Security Administration
Child Safety and Security
- Know where your child or children are at all times and who they are with. If a child needs to be left alone, make sure they are with a trusted adult.
- Never let a child go into a restroom alone in a public place. Always stay with children when in a public area.
- If a child doesn’t want to be around a certain adult make sure to find out why. The adult may be acting in inappropriate manner.
- Talk with children when they begin to use a computer on their own or get their own mobile device about Internet safety. Discuss how they should not reveal personal information to anyone on the Internet, and if they ever come across anything that makes them uncomfortable, they should tell an adult immediately.
- When moving to a new neighborhood, show your child which places to go, such as a neighbor’s house, if they need help. Show them places you want them to stay away from and others areas, like safe walking routes to school, that are acceptable places from them to go.
- Teach children about bullying and cyber bullying. Let them know that this is wrong and how to report it to a parent or a teacher.
- To avoid viruses and other malware, install security updates as needed, and run a virus and spyware scan often. Do not download anything from unknown sources.
- Do not give out personal information and credit card information to a site that is not fully trust-worthy. Never respond to e-mails asking for any personal information or passwords, no matter how believable it may sound.
- Use strong passwords that are not common words and have numbers and symbols mixed in with the letters.
- Only provide your social security number to an employer, a financial institution, such as a bank, or a government agency. Do not carry a social security card in a wallet in everyday circumstances.
- Always lock up blank checks in a very secure place.
- Shred important documents with personal and banking information before disposing of them.
- Do not carry any more than necessary in a wallet. Never write down a PIN number and carry it with a debit card.
- Keep copies of important documents such as a social security card, passport, driver’s license, and credit cards.
Safety Tips for Women
- 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.
Coming home late at night:
- Avoid shortcuts that are not well travelled 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 you are driving:
- Keep windows rolled up, except for a small. ventilation space and keep your doors locked.
- 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 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.
- 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.
At home you should:
- 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 him 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 - need an excuse to avoid embarrassment say something like; "Oh I forgot my mail."
While walking or jogging...
- Do not walk or jog alone if at all possible.
- Do not wear ear phones while jogging.
- Always plan your routes with safety in mind. Only walk or jog in well-lighted and well-traveled areas.
- Always stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
- Don't daydream.
- Do not take shortcuts if it means walking alone in untraveled or unlighted areas.
- Walk with confidence. Don't just look at the ground, make eye contact with the people you meet.
Holiday Season Theft Prevention
It is no secret that thefts and break-ins often increase during the holidays, since thieves know that many homes are empty and stocked with high-priced gifts. Thieves also target the large numbers of packages left on doorsteps or in lobbies and other common areas. Here are some tips to keep in mind during the holiday season regarding package deliveries:
- Choose a shipping option that requires you to sign for delivery.
- Check on the package’s delivery status online so you can try to be home when it arrives.
- Leave a note asking the delivery service to leave the package with a neighbor.
- Have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive it, like your office or a friend’s home.
- Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up.
- File a theft report immediately if you think your package was stolen, and contact your credit card company to find out if it offers a purchase-protection service that might reimburse you for stolen purchases.
Burglars also know that many households have new, and oftentimes expensive, items in their homes following the December holidays – especially items such as new computers and peripherals, stereo components, televisions, cameras and other electronic equipment. In too many cases, residents make it easy for burglars to figure out which homes to target by putting boxes that identify their new gifts in plain view with their other garbage. Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items in front of the house or other garbage pick-up locations for several days at a time. Instead, break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in non-transparent garbage bags and place them inside a trash can. (In many cases, especially with computer equipment, you might consider keeping the boxes for safe storage, shipping or moving in the future.) Think about keeping broken-down boxes inside – in a garage, for example – until the evening before your regular garbage pick-up. Some burglars actually look inside garbage cans for evidence of holiday gifts. In addition, please follow the residential burglary prevention tips listed above.
Vacation Safety and Security
- Never share vacation plans on social networking sites.
- Use timers for lights, television, and radio to make the house appear as if it is currently occupied.
- Have the postal office hold mail, or have a neighbor pick up mail and newspapers.
- Let a friend or relative know specific details of the vacation plans. Letting them know exact times and phone numbers of hotels and other emergency numbers will assure that someone knows when and where the vacationing individual or family will be at all times.
- Use travelers checks while on vacation and carry little cash.
- Leave expensive items such as jewelry or nice apparel at home. If it is necessary to bring valuables, check hotels or cruise lines ahead of time to see if safes are available.
- If traveling out of the country, look up phone numbers to the U.S. Embassy ahead of time in case an emergency situation arises.
Crime Prevention for Senior Citizens
Senior Citizens represent the most rapidly growing segment of the population in the United States. One in every eight American is currently age 65 or older, a total of more than 35 million. By year 2030, the number of senior citizens is expected to exceed 64 million in the U.S.
Although national surveys indicate that senior citizens are the least victimized age group, they often exhibit the greatest fear of crime. This fear can at least partially be contributed to their fear of personal vulnerability. Due to the natural consequences of aging, i.e. loss of hearing and/or eyesight along with other chronic and debilitating conditions, senior citizens perceive themselves as more vulnerable to physical injury if attacked. Senior citizens often live in isolation due to the loss of family members. They are also more likely to live in inner city neighborhoods that may have high crime rates.
- The first thing to remember--and always bear in mind--anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
- If you receive a telephone call from someone telling you you've won a prize and asking for a payment to buy something, for processing or administrative fees, for customs, taxes, or for any reason, it's probably a scam because legitimate sweepstakes or prize offers don't ask for payment because it's illegal.
- If a person says you have to take the offer immediately or you'll miss the opportunity, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies don't pressure people to act without time to look into the deal.
- If a caller refuses to send you written information before you commit to anything, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies are always glad to send information about what they are offering.
- If a caller claims you can make huge profits in an investment with no risk, it's probably a scam because all investments are risky and legitimate companies must tell consumers about the possible risks involved.
- If a caller claims you can make huge profits through a franchise or other business opportunity with little or no effort, it's probably a scam because all business ventures require knowledge and effort on the part of the buyers, and no legitimate companies would guarantee profits.
- If a caller asks for a donation but won't tell you exactly how the money will be used and how you can verify the charity and what it does, it's probably a scam because legitimate charities are willing to say what percentage of contributions are used for services and how much goes to overhead and fundraising. They are also willing to tell consumers who they can check with to confirm that the charity is legitimate.
- If a caller insists you send your payment by a private courier or wire money, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies don't try to keep people from checking the deal out and changing their minds, or try to evade the postal authorities by demanding immediate payment by courier or wire.
- If a company asks for cash, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies don't ask for cash; but con artists do. They often have trouble obtaining merchant approval from credit card companies and they also want to be difficult to trace.
- If a caller asks for your social security number, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies do not request your social security number unless you are applying for credit and they need to check your credit report.
- If a caller asks for your credit card number, bank account number, or other financial information when you aren't buying anything or paying with those accounts, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies only ask for financial information to bill you or debit your account for purchases you've agreed to make.
- If a company calls you relentlessly or after you've asked not to be called anymore, it's probably a scam because legitimate companies will take "no" for an answer and will take you off their calling lists if you ask. Con artist will keep calling to wear you down or get more money from you.
- If a company offers to get you a loan, credit, a credit card or to "repair your bad credit if you pay an up-front fee", it's probably a scam because legitimate lenders and credit card companies do not demand payment in advance, and no one can get bad information removed from a credit file if it is accurate.
Signs of Elder Abuse/Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call your state's elder abuse hotline or reporting number. Help is available.
In an emergency call 911 or the local police.
Non-emergency: 803-898-7318 OR 803-898-2850
(Click here for details on Nursing Home Abuse: http://www.drugwatch.com/nursing-home-abuse/ )
Beware of scam "catch-phrases" such as:
- Cash only-Why is cash necessary rather than a check or credit card? Once you hand over the cash, it’s gone forever.
- Secret Plans-Why are you being asked not to tell anyone? Secret may equate to illegal.
- Get Rich Quick-Should always be investigated. Often require you to purchase over-priced materials from specific vendors. Details are often very vague as to how you will make money.
- Something for Nothing-nothing is FREE. Anytime you are promised something for nothing, you normally get nothing!
- Contests-Normally a come-on to draw you into a money-losing scheme, or a way to obtain personal information.
- Today Only or Last Chance-Be wary of any program that requires you to act quickly with little time to think or investigate.
- Too Good to be True-In most cases it is.
- Left-Over Materials-may be defective or stolen