Crime Prevention

No one wants to be a victim of crime. The feeling that you have been violated, no matter how minor the crime, is not a pleasant one. There are many things you as an individual can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of crime. Remember, a criminal will almost always take the easiest route to committing his/her crime. If your car is locked or your house is locked most criminals will move on and keep looking for something easier to get into. Here are some tips to help you avoid being a victim of crime:

Vehicle Safety:

  • Never leave valuables in plain sight in your car when it is unattended. Purses, wallets, money, CDs, laptops and cell phones are all very easy for a criminal to grab out of your car quickly. Lock all valuables in your trunk or keep them out of sight when you are not in your car. At home take all valuables inside with you, don’t leave them lying in the car where they are easily seen.
  • Keep your car locked when you are not in it. When you go into a store or when it is parked in your driveway it should be locked.
  • If you are returning to your car after shopping or otherwise have your hands full, get your keys out as you approach your car. Avoid standing at the car fumbling to get your keys out and unlock the car.
  • Keep bicycles and mopeds locked to stationary objects with a hardened alloy lock.

Home Safety:

  • When you are not home or are asleep keep doors and windows locked, especially those on ground floors.

  • Install outdoor lighting, especially motion lights, and make sure they work.
  • Keep shrubs and bushes near the house trimmed down to low levels.
  • Know who your neighbors are.
  • If you are going to be away, stop your mail or paper or have a trusted family member or friend pick them up. Mail and papers accumulating on a porch are a sure sign to thieves that no one is home.

Identity Theft:

  • Protect your personal information as much as possible. Shred documents with personal information. Also shred credit card applications, loan applications and any other documents that have all or part of a credit card number on them.
  • If your wallet or purse is stolen report it stolen and immediately contact your bank and credit card companies to cancel the accounts. You should also notify DMV and get a new driver’s license as soon as possible. Do the same with the Social Security Office and your card.
  • Check your credit report. You are entitled to one free check of your credit report each year, take advantage of it.
  • Keep credit card receipts and compare them to the statement when it comes in. If there are charges on the credit card statement that you don’t have receipts for and don’t know what they are you should question your credit card company and if you aren’t able to verify the charge put the charge in dispute. One trick thieves will use is that they will charge a small amount to a card, say $20 or $30, to see if it gets noticed. If it doesn’t then they will charge up the card to its limit.
  • Balance your checkbook each month. You would be surprised how many people don’t have any idea how much they have in their bank account. If someone were to get their debit card number the only way they know they had no money is if they went to get money and found the account was empty.

Senior Citizen Crime Prevention:

Unfortunately thieves and scam artists like to prey on our senior citizens. Many senior come from an era when you took a man at his word and a handshake was all that was needed to seal a deal. Some of the more common scams that target the elderly:

  • A phone call that a grandchild or other family member is in jail and needs grandma or grandpa to send them money right away. Always verify independently that the family member really is in jail by calling another family member. If it’s a grandchild, call their mother. If you aren’t able to get a family member to verify ask the caller some questions that only your family member would know the answer to; what is their mother’s birthday? What was the name of their first pet? Where/when was the last family reunion?
  • A door to door salesman going through a neighborhood offering to make home repairs. Often they will tell the elderly person that their roof, gutters, siding, sidewalk, windows, driveway or whatever are in bad shape and desperately need to be repaired or replaced. Once they get the money to do the repair they disappear often without doing any of the repairs or partially do them and don’t complete the job. Never accept what a door to door salesman tells you without verifying it first. If they are a legitimate service they won’t mind of you tell them you want to get another opinion before you decide to have the repair made. Frequently this type of scam artist shows up after a natural disaster, such as flooding, high winds or fire.
  • Phone and mail scams regularly target the elderly. A phone call telling them they have won a large sum of money is one of the better known. The caller will tell them all they have to do is send a sum of money and their winnings will be sent to them. After they send the money in, they never hear another word and never receive their winnings, or they are asked to send more money. This will go on as long as the person doesn’t question anything and sends in the money. A legitimate company will NEVER ask for money in advance to send you your winnings. The same kind of scam can be run through the mail and the pattern is the same. Other common scams include helping someone in need such as orphaned or sick children, or the opportunity to purchase something at a very low price. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These scams are not limited to phone and mail, they can also be received through the internet via e-mail and operate the same way.

If you have any questions or concerns about crime or crime prevention please contact the Union County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 963-1017 or via e-mail at sheriff@union-county.org and someone will be glad to help you.

It takes everyone to get this job done.

If you have an emergency – Call 911.