Crime

How can I enhance my personal safety?

Stay Safe at Home

Always lock your doors and windows even when leaving for "just a minute."

Never leave a house key available under a doormat, in a flowerpot, or on the ledge of a door. These are the first places a burglary will look!

All exterior doors should be made of solid core wood or metal and have dead bolt locks with at least a one-inch throw that extends into the frame.

Increase the security of sliding glass doors and windows by installing additional security locks. To prevent the door or window from being lifted out of the track, drill a hole through the door/window frame and the fixed frame; then insert a pin into the hole.

Install a peephole in your front door. NEVER open the door to someone you don't know!

Use timers so that lights, radios, and televisions go on and off throughout the house to give the appearance that someone is home.

Install exterior lights on timers that illuminate your doors and windows at night.

Cut shrubbery back so it doesn't hide doors or windows. Cut back any tree limbs that a burglar could use to climb to an upper-level window.

Ask to see the identification for any repairman or delivery person before opening your door. If you are suspicious, call to verify.

If a stranger asks to use your phone, offer to make the call for them. Have the person wait outside.

Never let a stranger know you're home alone, whether the person is at your door or on the phone.

Street Precautions

Know where you're going and the safest route to your destination.

Walk at a steady pace, with your head up. Look confident and avoid looking down at the ground.

Stay in well-lit areas and choose routes where other people will be walking. Walk with a friend whenever possible.

If someone is following you on foot, cross the street and head towards a busy area. If a vehicle is following you, turn around and walk in the opposite direction.

Carry a whistle or personal alarm. The noise may scare off an attacker.

Vary your route while jogging or biking. Avoid isolated areas and exercise with a friend whenever possible.

If you carry a purse, hold it securely between your arm and body.

If you are wearing personal audio devices (I-pods / MP3 players) or using cell phones, keep them out of site to avoid being an easy target for a street robbery.

Driving

Avoid fumbling for your keys; have them in your hand as you approach your car.

Always check the back seat for uninvited guests before getting inside.

Keep enough gas in the tank so you won't get stranded.

While driving, keep all doors locked and windows rolled up most of the way.

Stay on well-traveled, well-lit roads.

If you are being followed by another car, drive into an open gas station, stay in your car, and ask the attendant to call the police. Better yet, drive straight to the nearest police station for assistance. Park only in well-lit areas at night.

Check for strangers who might be "casing" the area before you exit your car. Honk your horn and drive away if such a person advances toward you.

If you are "rear-ended" by another vehicle, motion for the driver to follow you to a public place. "Bump and rob" artists stage such accidents to lure unsuspecting drivers out of their cars to rob them of their wallet or purse. If a driver won't follow you, obtain as thorough a description as you can and report the incident to the police.


How can I make apartment living more secure?

The reduction of crimes committed at apartments and against apartment dwellers must be a cooperative effort. The residents, management, maintenance staff, and police working together is the only sensible answer. Getting to know the other tenants in your apartment complex is essential. After you have met them, make a personal list for future use. For information on starting a Neighborhood Watch Group please call the City of Downey’s Neighborhood Watch Coordinator at 562-904-1985.

Crime Prevention Tips for Apartment Residents

Good security for the downstairs main entrance of an apartment building is NOT guaranteed protection against intruders; it is merely a first line of defense. Although good security at the main entrance is vital, it is also extremely important to secure other vulnerable areas as well.

Secure all windows. Make sure to include bathroom windows and other small windows.

Never depend on a chain lock to secure your doors to the outside. Always install a good deadbolt lock. The key cylinder should be changed within the lock if the keys are lost and they clearly identify the location of your building or apartment. This should also be done if the apartment was formerly occupied and you are the new tenant. Refrain from having too many extra keys made - and never lend out the master key.

In addition to locks, install a "peephole" (wide angle viewer) on your outside doors. Use your peephole to "interview" strangers at your door. Be extremely cautious of any salespeople or workers (from the cable company or gas company, for example) that show up without you having called them. Ask all salesmen, solicitors, and information seekers to produce valid credentials (drivers license and employee ID) and call the company to double-check their legitimacy. Any stranger who does not cooperate should be reported to the police as a potential threat.

The posting of "No Soliciting" signs can greatly reduce the number of unauthorized individuals wandering through a complex. Unauthorized foot traffic in common areas can also be discouraged by the use of a front and back gates with spring closers. Also, if your building has an intercom system, use it wisely. If you do not know the person who rang your intercom, do not "buzz" them in - even if they claim to be a friend of another tenant.

Cooperate with all other tenants in keeping the outer main doors locked. Do not permit strangers to enter the building as you are leaving or entering. The main entrance front door is a critical area for security. There must be a building policy that requires all nonresidents to be screened outside the main entrance door by the tenant who is being visited to prevent unauthorized access.

Do not place your full name on the identification slot, mailbox, or in the telephone directory. Use first and middle initials. For example, use "J.T. Smith" rather than John Taylor Smith. Also, do not leave messages or notes for the postman, paperboy, or manager advertising your absence. Have deliveries picked up by a friend or neighbor while on vacation.

Be careful in carport areas. Lock your car. When entering or leaving, look around and make sure that no one is lurking in the area. If you do see someone loitering, leave immediately and notify the manager and/or the police. If there is a storage compartment in the carport, don't place valuable items in them. Do not expect your items in these storage areas to be very secure. Use a good quality padlock and have well-secured hasp attachments.

Security lighting is an important aspect of security in the carport, as well as the stairwell, alley, recreation room, patio, and other common areas - both inside and out. Bulbs should be of adequate wattage and burned-out bulbs should be replaced promptly.

Avoid using the laundry room in your apartment complex by yourself, especially at night. Develop a buddy system. A well organized and active tenant association is always very helpful, as are active Neighborhood Watch groups.

For more information, call the City of Downey’s Neighborhood Watch Coordinator at 562-904-1985 or our Neighborhood Preservation Coordinator at 562-904-2354.

How can I prevent identity theft?

Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identity have been stolen can spend months or years and thousands of dollars - cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, cars, or even be arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. Humiliation, anger and frustration are common feelings victims experience as they navigate the arduous process of reclaiming their identity.

Perhaps you’ve received your first call from a collections agent demanding payment on a loan you never took out - for a car you never bought. Maybe you’ve already spent a significant amount of time and money calling financial institutions, canceling accounts, struggling to regain your good name and credit. Or maybe your wallet has been stolen, or you’ve just heard about identity theft for the first time on the nightly news, and you’d like to know more about protecting yourself from this devastating crime.

Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft:

You can greatly minimize your chances by implementing the safeguards listed below:

Be extremely cautious when handling and disclosing the following information:

Social Security Number

Mother's Maiden Name

Date of Birth

Current and Past Addresses

Drivers License Number

Credit Card Account Number

Personal Identification Number (PIN) Codes

Never provide personal information over the phone, unless you have initiated the phone call. If you receive a call and want to confirm that the company is who they say they are, ask for a call back number and match it against the telephone book or directory assistance. Check with the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the business.

Never leave outgoing checks or paid bills in your residential mailbox. Use a blue postal mailbox or your local post office.

Consider installing a residential mailbox that is equipped with a locking mechanism and never leave mail in your mailbox overnight.

When ordering new checks, do not have them sent to your residence. Pick them up at the bank or have them delivered by registered mail.

Use a shredder prior to disposing of bank and credit card statements, canceled checks, pre-approved credit card offers, and any other financial or personal information. A crosscut shredder offers added security by making it more difficult to reconstruct shredded documents.

Place your garbage out in the morning on the day of pickup rather than the night before. This gives "Dumpster divers" less opportunity to go through your garbage.

If you list your name in the telephone book consider leaving out your address, or having an unpublished number. Leave off titles such as "Dr." or "Attorney" or any other signs announcing your apparent affluence.

Minimize the amount of information you carry in your wallet or purse by taking out extra credit cards and ID's.

Cancel all unused credit cards and maintain a list of active cards and accounts.

This list should include account numbers, expiration dates, telephone numbers and addresses for each creditor. Store this information in a secure place.

Open all bills promptly and check your accounts monthly.

Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly billing. Look for charges you don't recognize and report them immediately.

Call your credit card company if your card has expired and you have not yet received a replacement.

Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any address or phone number changes.

Never loan your credit cards to anyone.

Sign all credit cards upon receipt.

Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.

Be cautious of "shoulder surfers". Always shield your calling card or pin numbers when entering them during a transaction.

Keep your eyes on your credit card during all transactions (i.e. restaurants).

Never leave transaction receipts behind including, ATM receipts on the counter, at the gas pump, at the bank or in a trash receptacle - these should be shredded.

Ask your creditors to include a security password on your accounts. Refrain from using your mother's maiden name.

Limit the information printed on your checks to your name and address. If the clerk needs your phone number, write it on the check but do not say it loud enough for strangers to hear.

Do not allow sales clerks to write your credit card number on your check.

Never write down personal identification numbers (PINS) or passwords. Memorize them!

Order a copy of your credit report at least once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Review each report to verify that the information is correct and that there are not fraudulent transactions. You can also purchase services that alert you when there are irregularities in your accounts. Check with the three major credit report agencies for further information on these services.

Credit Reporting Companies:

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc. – (800) 525-6285 or www.equifax.com

Experian Information Solutions, Inc. – (888)397-3742 or www.experian.com

Transunion – (800)680-7289 or www.transunion.com


How can I reduce the risk of commercial robberies?

EVERY business owner, manager and employee plays a part in making businesses safe. Here are some things you can do to help PREVENT a robbery:

Have at least two employees open and close the business.

Do not release personal information to strangers.

Keep purses and personal valuables locked in desks or lockers.

Install a robbery alarm.

Place a surveillance camera behind the cash register facing the front counter.

Vary times and routes of travel for bank deposits. Do not use marked moneybags. Consider using armored car money couriers.

Keep a low balance in the cash register. Place excess money in a safe, or deposit it as soon as possible. Drop all large bills right away. If a customer tries to pay with a large bill, politely ask if he or she has a smaller one. Explain that you keep very little cash on hand.

Keep your business neat and clean. A tidy, orderly place of business is inviting to customers, but not to robbers. Dressing neatly also sends the right message.

Stay alert! Know who is in your business and where they are. Watch for people who hang around without buying anything. Also, be aware of suspicious activity outside your place of business. Write down license numbers of suspicious vehicles if visible from the inside of your business.

Be careful, most robbers are just as nervous as you are.

Make sure the sales counter can be seen clearly. Don’t put up advertisements, flyers, displays, signs, posters or other items on windows or doors that might obstruct the view of the register from inside or outside your business. The police cruising by your store need to see in.

Try to greet customers as they enter your business. Look them in the eye, and ask them if they need help. Your attention can discourage a robber.

Keep your business well-lit, inside and outside. Employees should report any burned-out lights to the business owner or manager. Keep trees and bushes trimmed, so they don’t block any outdoor lights.

Be extra CAREFUL after dark:

Be cautious when taking out the trash or cleaning the parking lot. Make sure another employee inside the business keeps you within eye contact while you are outside of your building.

If you see something suspicious, call the police. Never try to handle it yourself.

Use only one register at night. Leave other registers empty and open. Tilt the register drawer to show there is no money in it.

Leave blinds and drapes partially open during closing hours.

Make sure important signs stay posted. For example, the front door should bear signs that say, “Clerk Cannot Open the Time Lock Safe.”

What to do DURING a robbery

If your business is robbed put your safety first. Your personal safety is more important than money or merchandise.

Don’t talk except to answer the robber’s questions.

Don’t stare directly at the robber.

Prevent surprises, keep your hands in sight at all times.

Don’t make any sudden moves.

Cooperate with the robber for your own safety and the safety of others. Comply with the robber’s demands. Remain calm and think clearly. Make mental notes of the robber’s physical description and other observations important to law enforcement officers.

Tell the robber if someone is coming out of the back room, a vault or working in another area of your business.

Don’t chase or follow the robber out of your place of business. Try to see the direction that he flees.

If you have a silent alarm and can reach it without being noticed, use it. Otherwise, wait until the robber leaves.

Leave the job of catching the robber to the police.

AFTER the robbery:

Lock your business.

Ask any witnesses to stay until the police arrive.

Call the police and remain on the line.

Call your business owner, manager, or other designated person.

Don’t touch anything the robber may have touched.

Write down a description of the robber and the weapon as soon as you are able.

When the police arrive, the dispatcher will have you exit the store to greet them. During this time, remain calm and keep your hands where they can be seen.

Remain CALM & COOPERATE.

Try to REMEMBER what the suspect looks like.

If you can SEE a “get-away” vehicle, WRITE down a description and license plate number.

Call 9-1-1 as soon as it’s SAFE!

The Downey Police Department offers free Security Surveys for all businesses. A representative from the Special Enforcement team will meet with you and offer suggestions on how you can improve your physical security and operational procedures. They can be reached at 562-904-2353.


How do I help keep my car from getting burglarized?

The last thing you need is to find your vehicle’s window broken or missing items.  We suggest taking these simple but important steps to maintain your car’s safety: 

Place items out of sight before reaching your destination or move them inconspicuously.  This includes packages and gym bags.

Park in well-lit areas.

Lock ALL doors even if you plan to be gone for a brief time.

Set any alarm or anti-theft device.

NEVER leave your car unattended with the engine running, even if only “for a moment.”

NEVER leave the vehicle registration, documents or checkbook in the car.

NEVER place hidden keys in the car.

If you have high end audio or video equipment installed in your vehicle, keep it covered and out of site when your vehicle is parked. This is especially relevant in shopping centers or apartment complexes.

If you see suspicious activity, report it to (562) 904-2363, our Communications Center. 

Do NOT confront individuals.  Your life is precious, items can be replaced!

BE AWARE, BE A GOOD WITNESS


How do I report emergencies and non-emergencies?

To obtain the best possible police response, you should be prepared to efficiently report all crime and suspicious activity to the police. Some situations warrant using the 9-1-1 emergency phone line while others should be phoned in to the 24-hour non-emergency line (562-861-0771). The following guidelines are provided to assist you in determining which number to use:

Call 9-1-1- for:

1.        All medical emergencies
2.        Reporting a fire
3.        Reporting a Police emergency such as:

·         Any crime in progress that you are aware of or are observing.
·         A crime that has just been committed against you or one that you just witnessed. For example, you have just had your purse snatched and the suspect and/or vehicle description may help the police make an apprehension.

The 9-1-1 number can be dialed from any land based (permanent) telephone and will go directly to the Downey Police Department’s Communication Center. The telephone and address from the location you are calling from is automatically displayed on a computer screen when your call is answered. You can call 9-1-1 from any coin operated telephone without depositing money.

In order for the police to respond quickly to an emergency, let the dispatcher take command of the conversation. He or she will ask you a series of questions to learn exactly what is taking place. Depending on the type of call, the dispatcher will ask:

·          What happened?
·          Where did it happen?
·          Your name, phone number and location.
·          Suspect(s) description.
·          Weapon, if any.
·          Vehicle, if any, and the direction of travel.
·          Identifiable features of house or building.
·          Pet(s) on premises, if any.
·          Injuries, if any.

Speak as clearly and as calmly as you can. In an emergency, another dispatcher will broadcast the information by radio while you are still on the line. Each question that you are asked is designed to add a piece to the “picture” so that arriving officers can take precautions for what may be a dangerous situation. The more complete the picture, the quicker and safer the outcome for all concerned.

What can I do to make it safer to use the Internet?

The Internet provides a vast array of information, fun and enrichment.
But it also opens us to a world of online danger.

Some material (such as sexually explicit material) may be simply offensive or annoying and inappropriate for children. However, other illegal material poses a more serious and harmful threat. Child pornography; luring a child (when an adult lures a child into a personal meeting); or cyber-stalking (for example, harassment through email) constitute illegal activities. Pedophiles and child pornographers come from all walks of life, transcending social, economic, ethnic or religious lines. Often, many child predators have jobs that bring them into frequent and close contact with children and juveniles. Pedophiles produce, collect, and use child pornography for their own sexual gratification using photographs, videotapes, films and printed material. Traditional child pornography still flourishes, however, today’s computer technology now enables predators to easily locate and communicate with each other. The Internet is widely used as a means to share ideas and schemes about luring and exploiting child victims; lull parents into a false sense of security about their presence in a child’s life; or openly discuss activities and desires. Technology also allows pedophiles to exchange images and photographs globally and instantly…as well as share the names and addresses of child victims and other pedophiles. The Internet enables pedophiles to access potential victims by:  

using disguised identities for approaching children or teens

entering chat rooms to identify and target victims

building an internet relationship for future meetings and face-to-face contact identifying a victim and tracking down personal contact information through their computer profile.

Whether online or not, child pornography has just as lasting and devastating effect on the child victim as any other form of child abuse. Child pornography places the children being exploited in dangerous situations including contracting diseases, assault, rape, torture and death. It causes of sense of shame and guilt, as well as the fear that their family or friends might discover the images. Often it is this fear that makes the victim reticent to report the crime and/or testify in court against the predator. Although the online predator cannot be seen, it is important to remember that Internet crimes are still crimes and should be reported. If there is an immediate threat to your child, call 9-1-1 as with any emergency. If the situation is not an emergency, but you become aware of criminal activity that victimizes your child, contact the Downey Police Department at 562-861-0771.

Many Internet crimes fall under Federal jurisdiction. Consider calling law enforcement agencies at this level as well:


   National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
   1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)
   http://www.Cybertipline.com  US Postal Inspection Service
   http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/kid-porn.htm 

US Department of Justice, Criminal Division
   Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section

  
John C. Kenney Bldg., Ste 600
   10th and Constitutional Ave., NW
   Washington, DC 20530
   202-514-1026

   http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime

Reporting Child Luring
   Federal Bureau of Investigation-Los Angeles Field Office

   11000 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024
   310-477-6565
   http://losangeles.fbi.gov  or http://www.fbi.gov/ 


What should I do about acts of domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a serious national problem which affects millions of households. It crosses all cultural, racial, religious, and economic boundaries. Statistics indicate that 50-60% of the estimated 47 million couples in this country have suffered at least one violent incident, and 10-25% suffer domestic violence as a common occurrence. The victims of domestic violence are primarily women and their children. It has been documented that domestic violence is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings, and even auto accidents. According to the FBI, 25% of all murders nationwide are the result of domestic violence and 30% of all female homicide victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Physical abuse of a spouse has been documented in nearly half of all the validated cases of child abuse and neglect in Los Angeles County. According to the Southern California Coalition of Battered Women, 63% of young men between the ages of 11 and 20 who are incarcerated for homicide in California, killed their mother's batterer. These statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that all communities, including Downey, are seriously affected by domestic violence. If you are in a violent home environment you are not alone!

The Downey Police Domestic recommends the following:

Report an act of violence to the police. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. The operator will ask you questions in order to determine the nature of the emergency and provide the best possible response. To report an incident after danger has subsided, call (562) 861-0771.

Don't be reluctant to have the police arrest your spouse. Studies show that when the police arrest a suspect for domestic violence, the offender is less likely to assault the victim again. The police are required, by law, to arrest a suspected batterer when the victim shows visible marks.

Talk to a trained professional to discuss what options are available to you.


What should I do when I'm going on vacation?

Before Leaving

Inform your neighbors of how long you expect to be away. Inform them if you will have a house sitter.

Have a friend or neighbor pick up mail and/or deliveries. Make arrangements to have the lawn mowed and leaves picked up.

Simulate a "lived-in" appearance by using timers to run lights and a radio on and off during expected hours.

On the Road

Never carry large amounts of cash; use travelers checks. If you must carry a large sum of money, do not display it openly.

Keep a record of your traveler's check numbers and your credit card numbers in a safe place. Have the telephone numbers to call in case your checks or credit cards are lost or stolen.

Take only credit cards that you actually plan to use. Make a Xerox copy of all your cards before you leave home so you have a record of the card numbers.

Be aware of your surroundings and never advertise your plans to strangers. This includes travel routes and the amount of cash you are carrying.

Car Rental and Security

When renting a car, pick one whose operations you are familiar with. If not, take time to see where the lights, brakes, turn signals, windshield wipers, and spare tire are and how they work.

Don't rent a car at night. Stay in the hotel and rent it in the morning.

Always lock your car when entering or leaving it.

Park in well-lighted, busy areas and check the vehicle's interior and surrounding area before entering.

Always lock valuables out of sight. Always carry wallets, checkbooks, and purses with you.

Do not advertise that you are a tourist. Place maps and travel brochures in the glove compartment.

If you do become lost, drive to a public place to check the map. Don't stop along a street or the highway.

Sight-Seeing

Remember the name and address of the hotel/motel where you are staying. Take a business card or a book of matches with the name of the hotel/motel.

Ask for directions at a hotel/motel on how to get to those attractions you want to visit. Ask if there any areas of town to avoid.

Select your guides carefully.

Ask if there are any areas in town you should avoid. Stick to well-lighted main streets and public areas.

Only carry with you the cash you will need, and only in small denominations.

Hotel and Motel Security

When staying overnight at a hotel or motel, remember the following:

Determine the most direct route to and from your room, to the fire escapes, elevators, and nearest phone.

When occupying or leaving your room, use all auxiliary locking devices on doors and windows.

Identify anyone requesting entry to your room. Open the door only if you are certain that the person has a legitimate reason to enter your room. If in doubt, call the hotel/motel office.

Unpack and place belongings in the closet and dresser. Arrange your things so you'll know if anything is missing. When you leave your room, close up your suitcase.

Suitcases should always be locked so they cannot be used to carry your property out of your room.

Never leave money, checks, credit cards, or car keys in the room. Take them with you.

Place extra cash, expensive jewelry or other valuables (furs, gems, gold, or silver) in the hotel/motel safe.

Report any lost or stolen items to the hotel/motel management and to the police.

Report to the management any suspicious movements in the corridors or rooms.  

On the Town

Never display large amounts of cash when making purchases. It is better to use traveler's checks or credit cards.

Men should carry wallets in an inside coat or trouser pocket.

A woman should hold her purse close to her side when walking. Be sure the purse is closed tightly and that the opening is facing the body.

Don't stop to give money to panhandlers.

Be aware of your surroundings and those around you. If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, seek help.

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