- Personal Safety Tips on the Street
- Basic Street Smart Tips
- What to Do if Someone Tries to Rob You
- Burglary Prevention
- Thefts from Autos
Personal Safety Tips on the Street*
- If possible, don’t walk alone during late-night hours. Walk in groups whenever you can–there is always safety in numbers.
- Let a family member or friend know your destination and your estimated time of arrival or return. That way, the police can be notified as quickly as possible if there is a problem.
- Stay in well-lit areas as much as possible. Avoid alleys, vacant lots, wooded areas, and other short-cuts or secluded areas. They are usually not well-lit or heavily traveled.
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. Walk close to the curb, avoiding doorways, bushes, and other potential hiding places.
- If you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic. A person walking with traffic can be followed, forced into a car, and abducted more easily than a person walking against traffic.
- Walk confidently, directly, and at a steady pace. Don’t stop to talk to strangers.
- Wear clothing and shoes that give you freedom of movement. And don’t burden yourself with too many packages or items.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. If you are wearing headphones, don’t turn up the volume so high that you cannot hear outside noises.
- Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.
- Report any suspicious activity or person immediately to the Metropolitan Police Department by calling 9-1-1.
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash, or displaying expensive jewelry in public.
Basic Street Smarts Tips*
- Wherever you are–on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, waiting for a bus or subway–stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
- Send the message that you’re calm, confident, and know where you’re going.
- Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.
- Know the neighborhoods where you live and work.
- Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, and restaurants, or stores that are open late.
What to do if Someone Tries to Rob You*
- Don’t resist. Give up your property–don’t give up your life.
- Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from becoming victims.
- Self defense measures are most effective when applied as preventive steps–avoiding the crime in the first place.
Have you ever been locked out of your home? Were you able to get in anyway? Now think about it…if you could break into your own home, it’s just as easy for someone else to break in, too. Strong locks–and good neighbors who look out for one another–can be effective deterrents to burglars. Here are a few tips that can help you keep you–and your property–safe and secure.
Check Your Locks
- Make sure every external door has a strong, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door or by installing commercially available locks. To prevent the door being lifted off of the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or “pin” your windows by drilling a small hole at a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. You should secure basement windows with grilles or grates (but make sure that they can be opened from the inside in case of fire).
- Never hide keys around the outside of your home. Instead, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
Check Your Doors
- While we all like to feel that once we close and lock our doors, we’re safe and secure, the truth of the matter is that a lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down with your wallet on the front seat.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so that you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don’t keep out intruders.
- If your doors don’t fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
Check the Outside
- Take a look at your home from the outside, and keep in mind the following tips to help make your home as safe as it can be:
- Burglars hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night. Motion-detector lights can be particularly effective.
- Keep your yard clean. Prune shrubbery so it doesn’t hide windows or doors. Cut back tree limbs that a burglar could use to climb to an upper-level window.
- If you travel, create the illusion that you are at home by getting timers that will turn lights (and perhaps a television or radio) on and off in different parts of your home throughout the day and evening hours. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And make sure you don’t let your mail and/or newspapers pile up. Call the post office and newspaper to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick them up.
- Make a list of your valuables, such as VCRs, stereos, computers, and jewelry. Take pictures of the items, list their serial numbers and description. This will help police if your home is burglarized.
- Ask your District police station for a free home security survey.
- When getting work done on your vehicle, leave only the vehicle key for the service personnel. The same goes for car park attendants and valets.
- If you are having work done on your vehicle, give the service station your business address – not your home address.
Burglars Can Do More Than Just Steal
- While most burglars prefer to strike when no one is home, intruders can commit other crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone entering the home, or if they pick a home that is occupied.
- If something looks questionable – a slit screen, a broken window or an open door – don’t go in. Call the police from a neighbor’s house, a cell phone, or a public phone.
- At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
- One other important note – never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates that you may not be at home, or that you live alone. Instead, say “We’re not available right now.”
What If I Live in an Apartment?
- While apartment living is a little different from living in a single family home, there are still some additional things that you can do to make sure that you, your loved ones, and your property remain safe and secure. Similar to Neighborhood Watch, members of an Apartment Watch learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for one another and members of the community, and report crime and suspicious activity to the police. Some things you can do:
- Never let anyone you don’t know into your building or past security doors.
- Organize citizen patrols to walk around the apartment complex and alert police to crime and suspicious activities. Don’t forget to patrol parking lots, stairways, laundry rooms, and playgrounds.
- Publish a newsletter that gives local crime news, recognizes Apartment Watch captains, and highlights community activities.
- Have a reception in the lobby of your building or a cookout on common property so neighbors can get to know one another.
- Start a Safe Haven Program for children – places where they can go in emergency or scary situations.
- Check the complex on a regular basis for problems such as burned-out light bulbs, dark corridors, uncollected trash, or broken locks on mailboxes and doors. Report any such problems to the building manager. Keep pressure on management to make sure it provides adequate security.
- Organize meetings to brainstorm how you can help each other, such as starting an escort service for the elderly.
Thefts from Autos*
One of the most common types of theft is theft of valuables from your automobile. Theft from auto is strictly a crime of opportunity that can be prevented if you take away the opportunity. Thieves generally won’t waste their time breaking into autos that don’t have valuables in plain sight. Please take the precautions listed below to help ensure your auto is not targeted by thieves:
- Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight. The best way to prevent theft from your auto is to always keep valuables out of sight. Never leave cell phones, briefcases, suitcases, or electronic devices (cell phones, iPods, laptop computers, etc.) in your car in plain view. Take these items with you, or secure them–all the time, every time.
- Secure Your GPS Device. While many GPS devices are mounted in the dashboard of the vehicle, the MPD encourages anyone who uses a portable GPS device to take it with you, along with any other items of value, when you park the car.
- Use Your Trunk. If your car has a trunk, use it. Put valuables in there or in a locked glove compartment. Hiding items under seats is better than leaving them in plain view, but securing them inside the glove compartment or trunk is a far better deterrent.
- Don’t Tempt Thieves with New Purchases. During the holiday season especially, or any time you’re shopping, place packages in the trunk, not on the passenger seats or floors.
- Remove Your Radio Faceplate. If you can unfasten your sound system and take it with you, or lock it in your trunk, do so. And don’t forget to do the same with your CDs and tapes.
- Lock It Up. Also, keep your car doors and windows locked–all the time!
- Remember: “Outta sight, outta mind”–if thieves can’t see your valuables, they’re less likely to waste their time targeting your auto. Take the time to secure your valuables; it makes a difference.
*These tips are options for consideration and are not in their entirety. For more complete information, please visit the mpdc.dc.gov website.
As always, please for your safety do not engage a dangerous situation and report any and all crimes, suspicious activity, and persons/vehicles to MPD by immediately calling 9-1-1.