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Crime Prevention Tips

Often times crimes occur without planning when a prepetrator sees that he/she has a chance to act in the moment and sieze an opportunity. There are various simple ways to protect yourself and eliminate such opportunities from occuring by making your home, vehicle, valubles, etc. a harder target for criminals. 

MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT PREVENTION

  • Lock your car. More than half of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
  • Take your keys with you. One out of every five vehicles stolen had the keys in it.
  • Completely close car windows when parking. Don't make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.
  • Never hide a second set of keys or key fob in your car.
  • Park in well-lighted areas.  Always be aware and take note of where you are parking.
  • Park in attended lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.
  • Never leave your car running, even if you'll only be gone for just a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATM's, etc.  Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up.
  • Don't leave valuables in plain view. If you can see them, so can thieves. This includes charging cables that indiciate expensive electronics may be in the vehicle.

PURSE SNATCHING

Purse snatching is a crime of opportunity. Every female carrying a purse is a potential target.  Senior citizens are especially susceptible to these criminals since they may not be readily able to defend themselves and pursue their assailants. You can easily eliminate that opportunity with a few simple steps. 
                                                                                                                                                                    
Shop With a Friend
The first precaution you can take is to go shopping with a friend - man or women.  You're safer when in the company of someone else.  If you must be out at night alone, stay in well-lighted areas.  Walk close to street lights, staying well away from dark corners, alleys and building entrances.

How To Outsmart the Purse Snatcher
When carrying a purse, women should have only 3 or 4 one dollar bills placed inside. Credit cards, currency, driver's license, keys and jewelry should be carried in a coat or sweater pocket, or concealed on your person to reduce the opportunity of large losses. Never carry anything more valuable than you can afford to lose.  Always leave all unnecessary credit cards at home. If you carry a purse, don't wrap the strap around your shoulder, neck or wrist.  If your purse is grabbed, a strong strap will not yield easily and you may be injured. Never leave your purse on a store counter or in a grocery shopping cart - even for a moment.

Call The Police Immediately
Most victims are attacked from behind. They don't get a good look at the attacker. If attacked, call the police immediately. Try to remember all details - help your police help you!

RESIDENTIAL SECURITY TIPS

 The Kentwood Police Department's Community Services Bureau offers a home security survey at no charge.  Listed below are several tips that can help with home security. The Police Department also encourages all citizens to get involved with an organized Neighborhood Watch. The Department will train neighborhood members on how to organize a Neighborhood Watch. Know your trusted neighbors and assist one another during emergencies.
  • Illuminate all exterior entryways. Porch lights and spot lights that are secure and out of the burglar’s reach are recommended.
  • Street lights are a deterrent for your neighborhood, but your personal residence should also be well lighted.
  • Install and use a wide-angle door viewer on all exterior doors.
  • Install and use good quality locks on all windows and doors. Locks on all exterior doors should have a deadbolt with 1” throws and a reinforced strike plate with 3” screws.
  • Sliding glass doors should be pinned to keep them from getting lifted out of the track and a solid wood stick or pipe laid in the track.
  • Be extra cautious by locking your windows and house when you leave your home, even for a few minutes. Always keep your garage doors locked and closed both at night and during the day.
  • If you go out for the evening, turn on lights and radio or television so the home appears to be occupied. (Timers can also be used on these appliances.) This creates an impression that someone is home.
  • Consider creating a "Safe Room" with a secure door and deadbolt locks. Equip it with a separate telephone line or cell phone.
  • Do not hide extra keys in your yard or outside your home.
  • Verify the identity of visitors BEFORE opening the door. Do not open the door for unexpected or uninvited visitors.
  • Do not leave your schedule or plans on an answering machine message.
  • Ask for photo identification of all repair or service persons.
  • Never give personal information to telephone solicitors. Also, be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable donations. Ask for identification, how donated funds are used, and if donated funds are tax deductible. If you aren't satisfied with the answers, give to another charity.
  • If you are away from home overnight or an extended period of time, have someone care for your deliveries, mail and newspaper. Consider using timers or leaving lights illuminated during your absence.
  • Avoid leaving boxes from purchases (especially TV's, VCR's, computers, etc.) out on the curb for trash pick-up. Mark new items with an identification number and record new serial numbers.
  • Have your walks and driveways shoveled and lawn mowed. A well-manicured lawn can be quite important in emphasizing that you pay close attention to your home.
  • Overgrown or extremely large trees and shrubs can hide burglary activity.
  • Dogs can discourage burglars by barking or keeping them from entering your lawn.
  • When you’re on vacation, you can have a trusted neighbor check your house or click here to learn about our Vacation House Checks.
  • Stop all mail and deliveries.
  
Ask a neighbor to keep a close watch on you home while you’re vacationing. To arrange a courtesy exterior house check, please contact Viki Highland at (616)-656-6571.
 
If you wish to have a home security survey, or organize a Neighborhood Watch, please contact the Community Services Bureau at (616)-656-6561.

FRAUD & IDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION

Identity theft is on the rise across the country. There are many things you can do to help protect yourself against becoming a victim. Shred any paperwork that has your personal information on it, including your social security number, date of birth, address, telephone numbers, bank statements and credit card bills. Check your credit report at least once a year to make sure there are no unauthorized accounts on it. You can get a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you receive an e-mail or telephone call from someone claiming to be from your bank or other financial institution and they ask for your social security number or your account number to “verify” who you are, DO NOT GIVE IT! Banks do not ask for that information when they call you. The only time you should provide that type of information is when you initiate the call and know who you are talking with. You also need to monitor your bank account and credit card statements to check for unauthorized charges.

If you find that a credit card or bank debit card has unauthorized charges on it, you need to contact that bank immediately, report the fraudulent activity and cancel your card. You should also file a police report. If you are a victim of fraud, you can contact the credit reporting agencies and have them put a fraud alert on your file.

For more information on how to stay protected, visit the webpages listed below:

Warning Signs
Recovering from Identity Theft
Ways to Protect Yourself Against Fraud
Scam Watch

HOME SECURITY  

There are many things you can do to make your home less attractive to criminals:
  • Lock your doors and windows! This includes rear sliders, garage overhead doors and doors in your garage that lead into your house.
  • Keep exterior lights on at night.
  • Dogs that bark are great for deterring criminals from breaking into your house (as long as they don’t bark all the time and disturb your neighbors).
  • If you are going out for an evening, leave a couple of interior lights on as well as a radio or television.
  • Keep bushes trimmed up around your house so they don’t offer cover for someone sneaking around the exterior of your home. If you do plant bushes near your house, get some with thorns on them.
  • If you keep valuables in your home, hide them somewhere other than in your main bedroom. That is usually the first place a criminal will look.
  • Add an alarm system to your house.
And please, if you see someone that is acting suspicious in your neighborhood, SAY SOMETHING. Call the police immediately. Many criminals are caught because a concerned citizen takes the initiative and reports suspicious activity when it is occurring. For further information on protecting your home, please contact the Kentwood Police Department Community Services Bureau at (616) 656-6561.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

 You and your neighbors can be the most effective means of preventing crime and minimizing fear in your neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch is simply a mechanism for networking with other residents on your block, street, subdivision, or section. Any resident can join. Typically, a single neighborhood coordinator works to organize meetings, acting as a liaison between residents and the Police Department. Block captains are the primary contact between the residents on a street and the neighborhood coordinator. Some of the most effective crime prevention activities that watch groups can organize are picnics and block parties. These social events encourage communication between neighbors. They foster information exchange and build relationships that bind the community.

A watch group works closely with an area assigned police officer. The Community Service Officer will provide assistance in raising awareness of home security and encourage effective reporting of criminal activity. The Police Department can also provide you with safety information and crime patterns in your neighborhood. Neighbors caring for neighbors build safer communities.

For further information about starting a Neighborhood Watch, please contact officers in the Community Services Bureau at (616)-656-6561. 

INTERNET SAFETY  

The Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has created a free online E-book tailored towards teachers and parents that provides various useful tips on how to talk to children about internet safety. This E-book outlines five easy steps to take  to limit children's exposure to inappropriate content. In addition, it will tell provide you with information on the latest social media platforms and mobile applications.

Internet Safety E-Book

PROTECTMICHILD

 The ProtectMIChild Registry serves as your frontline defense in blocking adult-themed content from reaching your child or teen on their phone, tablet or other electronic device. Just register your child's cell phone number, email address and Instant Messenger ID to help prevent ads for alcohol, tobacco, online gambling and even pornography from reaching your child. It's free, simple, and so important.
 
ProtectMIChild Registry

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS

 Responding as effectively as possible to help victims and hold traffickers accountable is the purpose of the Kent County Human Trafficking Task Force. To visit their website and learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones, please click here.

Kent County Human Trafficking Task Force


SHOPPING SECURITY TIPS

  • Shop before dark if possible. Possibly coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is. When going to your car, have your keys out and ready.
  • Lock your packages in your vehicle’s trunk. Keep your vehicle’s doors locked and windows closed. You may have to cover valuables with a blanket to keep them out of sight.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or debit card when possible.
  • To discourage purse-snatchers, don’t overburden yourself with packages. Have your purchases delivered whenever practical.
  • Be extra careful with your purse and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a trouser pocket. Be alert to strangers loitering or hiding in parking lots.
  • Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated. They should never be left in a vehicle alone or allowed to go into a parking lot alone.
  • When driving, always wear your seatbelt and have your children in car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

LARCENY FROM AUTO  

Theft from a vehicle is one of the most common crimes in the City of Kentwood.  Many incidents involve vehicles that were left unlocked.  In order to prevent these indicents from occuring, we highly encourage all citizens to acknowledge the following steps to reduce opportunities for thieves.             
  • Lock your vehicle at ALL TIMES, even in your garage and when making short trips to convience stores, school, etc.  Even if you do not keep valubles in your vehicle, always keep it locked. 
  • Remove valuable items such as packages, cell phones, brief cases, GPS, Ipod's and laptop computers from cars during the overnight hours. Be mindful of leaving charging cables in plain view, as this may be an indictor of electronic valubles.
  • Lock valuables in the trunk of your car or conceal them from view in a vehicle that does not have a trunk. If you can see valuables, so can they.
  • Park in well-lit areas, driveways, or garages.
  • Immediately report all suspicious activity around parking areas to the police or store security personnel.
Remember, you can control the opportunity for the crime to be commited by being aware.  You can proactively deter crime by providing a gaurd (real or percieved) for the persons, places, or things that a criminal may find desirable.  It takes “A Community Effort” to reduce crime. You can help by dialing 9-1-1 to report all in-progress crimes.