Baltimore County Police Department
Street criminals look for an easy mark. Not necessarily the oldest or weakest, but the easiest. People who look preoccupied are at a greater risk of becoming a victim. No one consciously invites a robbery, but victims send signals that tell the assailant “I’m an easy target.”
Walking with a fixed up or down gaze, implies preoccupation. Acting distracted is one of the reasons why tourists are often victimized. Stand tall and walk confidently. Show you’re alert by looking from side to side and scanning the area around you.
If someone threatens you with a weapon, give up your purse, wallet, or vehicle without hesitation. Your personal safety is far more important than your possessions. The following lists are crime prevention tips that can be applied not only during the holidays, but also on a day to day basis:
- Keep gifts and valuables out of sight in your car. Lock your packages in the trunk.
- At night park in a well-lighted area, and remember where you’ve parked.
- Shop with a friend, especially at night. If you are alone try to walk near other people.
- If you feel uncomfortable walking to your vehicle, ask store security to escort you.
- Lock your doors immediately after entering your vehicle.
- Carry a purse close to your body. Place wallets in your front pants pocket, instead of a back or jacket pocket.
- Have your keys ready to enter your vehicle when you approach it.
- Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages.
- Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk, security guard, or police officer if you get separated.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
In The Mall:
Carry only receipts and small change in your purse.
- Never let your child use a public restroom alone; these are favorite places for offenders who harm children.
- Never use a video arcade or toy store as a baby sitter. Offenders are on the prowl for unattended children. Malls and shopping centers are prime locations for abductions according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
- If you take a break in a restaurant or restroom, don’t place purse or packages on the floor.
- Avoid using bathrooms that are tucked away in a back area of a mall concourse or department. If you can, find a bathroom near the mall’s food court or highly populated area.
- Make your most expensive purchases last. This will reduce your exposure to costly losses.
- Park in well lit areas where there is plenty of pedestrian traffic.
- Wait until you get to your vehicle, before deactivating your alarm. Deactivating the alarm prior to arriving at your vehicle; will give a criminal your intended destination.
- If you feel that you are being followed to your vehicle, re-enter the store and have security escort you to your vehicle.
- When you arrive at your vehicle, look under and in the back seat of your car before entering.
Safety at the ATM:
- Whenever possible, use ATMs during the day.
- Avoid using ATMs late at night; most ATM crimes occur after normal banking hours.
- If you need to use an ATM at night, use one inside a busy establishment.
- Before using an outside ATM, make sure no one is loitering in the area…”Be aware of your surroundings.”
- Use only well lit, secure ATM locations.
- Make sure you block the view of others nearby when you enter your personal identification number (PIN).
- After the transaction be sure to remove your card from the ATM, take receipts with you, and quickly place your card and money in your pocket.
- Do not count your money at the ATM. Criminals have been known to watch ATM transactions and size-up potential victims.
- If you are followed after making an ATM transaction, go immediately to a heavily populated, well-lighted area and call the police.
- If you are attacked at an ATM don’t resist. Cooperate and give up your money, then notify the police.
Credit Card Precautions:
- Make sure the clerk uses your card for only one transaction. Watch transactions carefully. Be aware of card skimming.Do not carry your social security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it at home in a secure location.
- Never give out information about your credit card to any phone solicitor.
- Immediately report the theft or loss of credit cards.
- Never give out your social security number to a phone solicitor or store clerk.
- Do not use your credit card to purchase items on the Internet unless you initiate the contact and make sure the site is secure and encrypted.
- Cancel all credit cards that you haven’t used in the last six months. Open credit accounts with a zero balance are prime targets for identity theft.