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Crime Safety Tips

Crime Safety Tips

For the Dallas Police Residential Security Manual, click here.

badge-dpdCrime Prevention Tips from Dallas Police

When it comes to crime prevention, common sense is one of your best defenses. A well secured home that is protected by a monitored alarm system is less likely to have break-ins. Residents who are aware of their surroundings and report suspicions to 911 are another vital deterrent.  Here are a few ‘common sense” tips to help prevent becoming a victim of crime:

  • Report all suspicious activity to 911! Organize a Volunteers in Patrol and Crime Watch for your neighborhood.
  • Protect your home with a monitored alarm system, well-locked doors and windows, padlocked yard gates, and a secure garage door.
  • Make your home appear occupied: Alternate leaving on a light or two throughout your home day and night. Turn on exterior lights at dark.
  • Maintain your property: clean up newspapers, mail, fliers and any other debris to indicate your home is lived in.
  • Know your neighbors: Exchange phone and email addresses. Inform a trusted neighbor of your daily routine and other travel that takes you away from home. Have them watch your property and report any suspicious activity. Be sure they have your contact information in case of any emergency.
  • Trim overgrown vegetation so your home is easily visible from the street and by neighbors who may be looking out for you. Overgrown vegetation provides a hiding place and/or visual barrier for thieves to lurk behind.
  • Don’t advertise your major purchases: If making purchases of large, expensive items, cut down those boxes and place them in your recycle bin instead of at the curb. Leaving boxes from recent purchases of costly items is a red flag for thieves that you have a new flat panel TV, computer or other valuable items.
  • Keep your garage door closed: Thieves can easily grab lawn equipment or other items in just a few seconds. Police recommend storing lawn equipment close to the interior walls of your garage rather than near the garage door opening.
  • Park your car in a secure garage or on your driveway. Never leave items in your car. Burglars will break a costly car window to grab items inside. Park in a well lit area if secure parking is not available.
  • Change your routine: Leave and return to your home via a different route. Drive by your home front and back. Be aware of who you see and note changes.

Call 9-1-1 to Report Suspicious or Criminal Activity

Suspicious or criminal activity should be reported by calling 9-1-1 as soon as you are able. Anything that seems out of place or is happening at an unusual time of day might be criminal activity. Don’t worry that you’re bothering the police or about being embarrassed if your suspicions prove to be unfounded. Think about what might happen to people or property if you don’t act.

Never place yourself in harm’s way trying to get details about suspicious or criminal activity that you observe. Details can help police a lot, but it’s very important that if you need to get to a safe place, you do so before you call.

If you’re driving when you observe suspicious or criminal activity find a safe place to pull over and park to make your 9-1-1 call. Your call may be garbled or can disconnect if you’re moving, and it’s safer if you don’t talk while driving.

When contacting 9-1-1 it’s important for you to be able to articulate:
  • Your location and phone number if calling from a cell/mobile phone.
  • Who you observed (a description).
  • What did you see? Be specific.
  • Where was it?
  • When did you see it?
  • Why in your opinion was it suspicious? Remember, you are more aware of what’s normal for our neighborhood than anyone else, but you need to be able to communicate that.
To describe a person, provide information on as many of the following as possible:
  • Race, sex, and age.
  • Height, weight, and hair color.
  • Peculiarities like scars, tattoos, missing limbs – any noticeable features.
  • Weapons, if any.
  • Clothing description. Type and color of short and pants, if wearing a coat or hat, and especially what type of shoes.
  • Method and direction of travel.
To describe a vehicle, try to provide:
  • License plate of vehicle (most important). Even a partial number helps.
  • Year, make, and model of vehicle – at least the type of vehicle.
  • Color of vehicle.
  • Damage or outstanding features (one headlight, broken taillight, logos, special paint, special rims/tires, roof rack, antennae etc).

After you complete your call to 9-1-1, you may want share info with neighbors that live around you via the Nextdoor system so they can be made aware of the incident

Recognizing Suspicious Activity

“Am I witnessing a crime?” Most of us have found ourselves wondering this at some time or other. However, because we are not really sure, we tend to hope it wasn’t something bad and continue about our business.

Here are some signs of suspicious activity:
  • Unusual noises, including gunshots, screaming, sounds of fighting, barking dogs, or anything suggesting foul play, danger, or illegal activity.
  • A person running would be suspicious if he or she were looking about furtively, as if he or she were being watched or chased.
  • A stranger carrying property at an unusual hour or location, especially if the items are television sets, stereo equipment, office machinery, a locked bicycle, or lawn care equipment.
  • A person going door-to-door in an office building or a residential area may be looking for an opportunity to steal.
  • A stranger trying to gain entry into a residence, especially through a rear entrance, garage door, or window.
  • Any person forcibly entering a locked vehicle, especially at night and in a driveway, is highly suspicious.
  • Property in vehicles. This may not be suspicious unless the property is of an unusual nature: television sets, stereo equipment, lawn care equipment, or auto parts. Possible significance: could be stolen property.
  • Transactions being conducted from vehicles, especially near schools or parks. You may be witnessing an illegal drug sale or sale of stolen property.
  • One or more persons sitting in a parked car closely scanning the area around them may be lookouts for a burglary or robbery in progress, or for a crime being planned.
  • Certain moving vehicles, such as vehicles moving slowly, running without lights, or one that keeps passing the same area. It could be casing a building or house to burglarize, someone pushing drugs, or someone planning another crime such as a robbery, kidnapping, or sex offense.
  • A person (especially a juvenile or female) being forced into a vehicle may be a kidnapping.
  • A person exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms may have been injured in an accident, be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications, or otherwise need medical or psychiatric assistance.

More Crime Tips from Dallas Police