Safety Tips

Crime Prevention:

  • Lock the front door when you are working in the back yard, and lock the back door when working in the front yard.
  • Do not hide keys under your door mat, or anywhere outside.
  • Never leave written messages outside your home; this is a sign that your home is unoccupied.
  • Re-key all exterior locks when moving into a new home.
  • Do not allow children to open doors for strangers.
  • Do not automatically open the door when someone knocks or rings the doorbell. Be sure to use the peephole to check the person’s identity.
  • If someone comes to your door asking to make an emergency phone call, offer to make it for them instead of allowing them into your house.
  • Have your local law enforcement’s non-emergency number near your phone so it is always handy.

Personal Safety:

  • Always be alert and aware- have assurance and a sense of purpose when walking somewhere.
  • Keep at least an arms length distance between strangers seeking contact with you.
  • If possible, carry only a small purse with you rather than a large handbag. If approached give your attacker your purse, your personal safety if far more valuable than your personal items, they can all be replaced.
  • Walk near the curbs, in well-lit areas. Try to avoid walking close to bushes and places of concealment, avoid alleys at night.
  • Avoid getting close to a strangers car if a driver pulls over to ask you for directions.
  • If harassed by a driver, run in the opposite direction the car is traveling so the driver would need to turn around to follow you. Call the police with the perpetrator’s license plate number to assist them in finding the vehicle.

Common Tricks of Predators:

  • Bribe Trick: The victim is offered something that he or she might want in return for sexual contact.
  • Animal Trick: The person is lured away from others by an invitation to play with or receive a gift of a puppy or kitten, or some other cute or unusual animal.
  • Emergency Trick: A person pretends that an emergency has happened to the victim. The person then says there was a change in plans, and he/she was to pick them up because the prearranged ride was cancelled.
  • Friend Trick: A person pretends to know the family and says the child’s parents have asked them to come and give the child a ride home.
  • Bad Child Trick: A person accuses the child / teen of doing something wrong. The victim is ordered to go with the person. Sometimes a real-looking badge or ID is shown as fake proof of the predator’s official status.
  • Flattery Trick: Posing as a photographer, a person might ask the victim to go with them, so pictures or a video can be taken.
  • Open the Door Trick: The person tricks the victim into opening the house door or car door. The person might look like a repair person, or says they need to use the phone, or deliver a package, or needs help or directions.
  • Secret Trick: Sometimes victims are warned to keep physical and sexual harassment or assault a secret. Often the victimization continues because the victim is afraid these threats might be true.
  • Networking Trick: Children and teens have been lured into dangerous situations by people using computer online services to make contact. The communication usually starts as a harmless exchange; then the predator asks for a face-to-face meeting, or the messages become increasingly sexual in content.

Protect Yourself From Strangers:

  • Know your name, address, and phone number.
  • Use the buddy system – avoid walking anywhere alone.
  • Trust your instincts – if you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately.
  • If a stranger approaches you, you do not have to speak to him or her.
  • Never approach a stranger in a motor vehicle. Just keep walking.
  • Do not accept candy or any other items from a stranger.
  • Never walk off with a stranger no matter what he or she tells you.
  • If someone is following you try to remember the license plate number of his or her vehicle. Tell your child to immediately tell a trusted adult. Call the police with this information immediately.
  • If a stranger grabs you, do everything you can to stop him or her from pulling you away or dragging you into his or her car. Drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite, and scream. Do whatever it takes to attract the attention of others who can help you.

Prevent Burglary:

  • Keep all areas around your house well lit. The number one deterrent to a burglar is a well lit area…a burglar does not want to be seen!
  • Keep a light on in your house. A light on in someone’s house makes it appear as if they are home, even if they’re not.
  • Keep some shades and blinds up and curtains open to maintain a normal, everyday appearance in your residence.
  • Keep your windows and doors locked! Most burglars enter through an unlocked door or window.
  • If you have a double sided deadbolt lock, don’t leave the key in it! If you have windows right next to your door it is easy for a burglar to see this, break the window, and unlock your door.
  • Secure sliding glass doors. Place a metal rod or piece of plywood in the track and install vertical bolts. These will help prevent burglars from forcing the door open or lifting it off the track.
  • Make sure you know who is at the door before you answer it. Opening the door for strangers not only puts you at immediate risk, but it allows the potential burglar to get a good look at what is inside your house so they can come back later.
  • Make sure your shrubbery is well maintained so that a potential burglar cannot hide in it. If there is always a clear view in front and back of your house, the burglar has no where to hide if they are discovered. This also prevents them from being able to hide while prying open an entry way.
  • If your garage is connected to your house, always double check noone has snuck into your garage when you opened it.
  • Install automatic lights in your garage so that they go on each time the garage door is opened.
  • Use an at home alarm system. When programmed correctly this will alert the police as soon as it goes off!
  • Always lock the door to an attached garage. Don’t rely on your automatic garage door opener for security.
  • Good neighbors are a great deterrent for crime! If you know you are going to be out of town ask a neighbor to look after your house. Or, if you know that your neighbor is not home, be on the lookout for them. If you see suspicious people lurking around someone’s home, notify the police immediately!
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers.
  • Write down the serial numbers, makes, and models of your personal property.
  • Never leave clues that you are away on a trip. Have a trusted neighbor collect mail and newspapers while you are away so delivered items do not accumulate. You can also ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or parking place to make it appear that you are present.
  • Never leave a message on your telephone answering machine telling people that you are away from home. A message that you will return at a certain time leaves your home vulnerable in the interim.
  • Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or have a friend or neighbor take them regularly.
  • Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended period of time.
  • Mark your valuables with your driver’s license number with an engraver you can borrow from your precinct. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.

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 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.

*If you leave your home for an extended period of time, call the Saint Paul Police Department Community Services Unit at (651) 266-5485 and ask for a House Watch. The Police Department can arrange for someone to check on your house. Also, tell a neighbor how long you’ll be gone and where you can be reached. Ask them to check your house every day if you’ll be gone for several days at a time. Leave lights and radios or televisions on timers, or ask your neighbor to switch them on and off periodically.

Prevent Theft From Auto:

  • Lock your car doors and be sure your windows are rolled up completely EVERYTIME it is unoccupied.
  • Don’t leave valuables, such as wallets, purses, computers, cell phones, or jewelry, in your car. Leaving items of value in plain view makes your car an automatic target. If you must leave valuable items in your car, place the items out of sight before reaching your destination.
  • Plan your shopping / errands so that you don’t load your trunk until you are ready to drive to another destination; never open a trunk, fill it full of valuables, close it, and then just walk away. If your trunk can be opened from inside your car without a key, lock this feature when you are not in your car or have it disabled.
  • When you return home from shopping, remove all purchases from your car.
  • Leave no sign that there might be valuables “out of sight” in your vehicle, such as docking stations or connector cables, very few auto break-ins are random. If you have an after-market stereo/CD-player with a removable faceplate, remove it.
  • Try to park in well-traveled and well-lit areas: Large lots are the preferred target of thieves, so try to choose a well-light, visible, parking spot where there is lots of vehicular and pedestrian movement when possible.
  • Watch for suspicious activity. (People loitering or lurking in the area of parked vehicles). Call 911 and describe the person’s gender, race, height, weight, clothing, and age, their license plate number (if available) or mode of transportation and their exact location.

Prevent Auto Theft:

  • Always lock your vehicle. Almost half of the vehicles stolen are left unlocked.
  • Take your keys with you! 1/5 vehicles stolen have the keys in them.
  • Do not hide your second set of keys in your car. It does not take very long for a thief to find another set of keys.
  • Always completely roll up your windows.
  • Do not leave valuables in plain sight. The less “stuff” you have in your vehicle, the less of a target your vehicle is.
  • Never leave your car running while unattended, even if you are just running “in and out quickly”. All it takes is a few seconds for a thief to drive your car away.
  • When parking your vehicle on the street, turn your wheels sharply toward the curb.
  • If you park on the street, make sure it is an area that is well-lit.
  • Report any suspicious activity that you see in parking lots or your neighborhood immediately.
  • Park in attended lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.
  • Use anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks or alarms.
  • Install fuel or power cut-off switches.
  • Buy a vehicle with a locking ignition or steering column.
  • Chain motorcycles and bicycles to stationary objects when unattended.
  • Consider having your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) etched on all the windows.
  • Keep your vehicle identification number (VIN), as well as other specific vehicle information in a safe place at home so you can give it to officers if your vehicle is ever stolen.

*If your vehicle is ever stolen be sure to call the police immediately! Provide them with the specific details about the vehicle and know your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Also, be sure that you never leave your license, purse, title of your car, or any other valuable, personal, identifying valuables/information so that if your vehicle is ever stolen they do not know who you are and do not have the opportunity to change the title of your vehicle.

Recognizing suspicious activity in your neighborhood:

  • Someone is trying to enter a neighbor’s house by window or side door.
  • A strange vehicle left running and parked on your street.
  • Someone is shouting “Help,” “Fire” or “Rape.”
  • Shots fired, alarms sounding or, windows being broken.
  • Someone is tampering with a neighbor’s vehicle.
  • Someone has a weapon.
  • Someone is entering or leaving a business before or after its designated business hours.
  • Someone is carrying items of value from a neighbor’s home.
  • Someone who appears to be moving household items late at night.

Recognizing drug activity:

  • An unusually large amount of traffic comes to the house or apartment building, in cars, taxis, or walking, often at strange hours. Visitors may sometimes pound on doors or shout to be let in. This traffic is usually quick, and the people stay only a short time. Sometimes they don’t even go in at all; instead, someone comes out to meet them.
  • Finding drugs or drug paraphernalia (syringes, pipes, baggies, etc.) in the area.
  • Repeated, observable exchanges of items, especially where money is visible.
  • Offers to sell you drugs, or conversations about drugs that you overhear.
  • Houses or buildings where extreme security measures seem to have been taken.
  • Houses or buildings where no owner or primary renter is apparent, and no home activities – yard work, painting, maintenance, etc. – seem to go on.
  • If you observe this type of behavior, call the police and alert them immediately.

Things to remember when calling to report suspicious activity:

  • Hair color and style.
  • Height and weight.
  • Facial hair and complexion.
  • Eye color or if they were wearing glasses.
  • Nationality or speech characteristics.
  • Visible scars, marks, or tattoos.
  • Type of shirt, pants, shoes, or hat the person was wearing.
  • Did the suspect have a weapon?
  • Approximate age.
  • Vehicle color, year, and make.
  • Vehicle license plate number.
  • Direction the suspect escaped, or where they are if you can still see them.
  • Was there more than one person involved in the crime?
  • Don’t just look for generic characteristics that most people have, distinguishing features about the perpetrator will assist the police in identifying the perpetrator.

When calling to report a crime:

  • Remain calm!
  • Describe what is happening or what you saw happen.
  • When describing, describe one thing at a time and keep it simple. This makes it much easier to understand and makes your report clearer. The more the police understand the easier it is for them to catch the offender.
  • Be patient and answer any questions to the best of your ability.

Prevent arson:

  • Keep properties clean.
  • Keep flammable liquids safely out of sight, locked in a shed or garage.
  • reat outdoor arson fires as seriously as any other arson. These types of fires are often hard to contain and spread quickly.

Fire safety at your home:

  • Draw and discuss a visual plan of an escape route in case there is a fire in your home. Be sure to show at least 2 ways out of each room and practice the route to be sure you and your family know how to escape in a hurry.
  • Check all of your windows to ensure that they can be easily opened in an emergency.
  • Keep your bedroom door closed when you are sleeping. It acts as a barrier from heat and smoke. If you believe there is a fire, be sure you check your door for heat before you open it.
  • Replace smoke detector batteries annually whether they need it or not. A good reminder is to pick a day each year when you will change them, for example every New Years Day.
  • Show your children how to dial 911 and be sure that they understand that it is only to be dialed in an emergency. Make sure they also know their home address and phone number, just in case they are calling from a cell phone.
  • Make sure that everyone understands that once you’re out, you need to stay out. There is absolutely no reason to go back into a burning house. Your life is much more valuable than your possessions, they can all be replaced. Stay together and wait for the fire department.
  • Be sure you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen in case a fire starts when you are cooking.

Carbon Monoxide safety:

  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector, especially if you use any type of gas or wood burning system in your house.
  • When moving into a new home or after a major home improvement project, have the gas company inspect your home to check for proper ventilation.
  • Make sure you know and follow the maintenance procedures for your furnace. A forced-air system is most likely to cause problems. Be sure to change your filters regularly and check that air can flow freely through the vents.
  • The fireplace is a major problem when it comes to carbon monoxide. Make sure you have a Carbon Monoxide detector right beside your fireplace and in each room your chimney is attached to.
  • Most Carbon Monoxide detectors will allow you to keep watch on your levels. If your Carbon Monoxide levels appear to be getting higher, call in a contractor to make repairs, as soon as possible. Open all the windows and ventilate your house while waiting on the repair. If levels are not subsiding, evacuate the house.
  • Do not leave your car running in the garage with the garage door shut.