Crime Prevention Tips
- Tips to Avoid Rental Scams
- How to Keep a Burglar Out
- Preventing Vehicle Theft and Theft From Vehicles
- Home Burglary Prevention Tips
- Storage Unit Burglaries-Protecting Your Belongings
- Safe Exchange (Online Transactions)
- What to Do When Stopped by a Police Officer
- What to Do When You are Being Stalked
- Tips to Prevent Cyberbullying
- Delivery Driver Safety Tips
- Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
TIPS TO AVOID RENTAL SCAMS
Below you will find some tips, from the Newport News Police Department's Economic Crimes Unit, to prevent you from becoming a victim of rental fraud.
Top Eight Red Flags
- The listing photos have a watermark or you can tell are “copied-and-pasted.” This is known as a “Clone scam.”
- The listing details are vague.
- They are eager for you to rent without seeing the property first.
- They will make a deal without any background info.
- They claim to be out of town, too sick, or out of the country and cannot meet you in person.
- They claim to be renting on behalf of someone else. This is known as a “Middleman scam.”
- The asking rent does not match rent in area. The price is too good to be true.
- They want you to wire or mail money to them.
Avoid Rental Scams
- Meet the landlord or agent in person.
- See the property in person.
- Protect yourself; never pay with cash.
- Have a written lease and read it before signing.
- Do your research; verify the owner of the property.
- Check reviews. Many renters will give negative feedback, but very few leave positive reviews.
If You're a Victim of Rental Fraud
- Contact the Newport News Police Department.
- Notify the listing website (Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist, etc.).
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).
HOW TO KEEP A BURGLAR OUT
Below you will find some tips that will help keep you and your home safe and free from burglary. The harder we make it for thieves, the more likely they will just go away.
- Always make sure all your doors and windows are locked.
- Consider additional locks on sliding doors.
- Put locks on all gates.
- Don’t leave your garage door open unnecessarily and/or unattended.
- Install locks on garage doors.
- Use dead bolt locks with reinforcement plates and long screws.
- Avoid tall shrubs and trees around your windows and doors. This can hide burglars while breaking in.
- Exterior lighting deters burglars. Consider timer switches when away.
- Motion lights are even better because it draws attention to your property by others who might report the activity.
- Burglars target homes where they feel they can reap the most reward. Avoid advertising anything that may suggest you have a lot of valuables.
- Hide your valuable possessions in your home by closing blinds or curtains.
- Burglars often research or stake-out neighborhoods watching when people come and go. Change your routine occasionally, if possible.
- Consider investing in a home security system.
- Advertise that you have an alarm system but not what type – some burglars are familiar with more common systems and can disarm them.
- Consider investing in a home camera system, i.e., RING.
- Dogs are equally useful alarm systems. The bark is more important than the bite.
- Take photos of valuables and write down serial numbers for electronics.
- Don’t allow door-to-door solicitors into your home or accept free home inspections, termite inspections, water testing, etc.
- Call 911 as soon as you realize your home has been burglarized.
VEHICLE THEFT AND THEFT FROM VEHICLESThe Newport News Police Department is offering the following tips to help keep your belongings and automobile safe:
• Always lock your automobile and take your keys.
• Make sure all windows are rolled up – all the way.
• Do not leave extra or spare keys in your automobile.
• Do not leave valuables in your automobile (whether in plain sight or hidden).
• Do not leave valuables in your trunk (if your automobile is unlocked, a thief can get to your trunk).
• Park your automobile in a lit area.
• Park your automobile in your garage or driveway if possible.
• Never leave your automobile running.
• Install an anti-theft device that is highly visible, had to defeat, and that renders the automobile inoperable.
• Do not leave important papers, especially a car title, in your automobile.
• Invest in a tracking device in case your vehicle is stolen.
• Record the serial numbers of aftermarket stereos, or other items.
• Engrave your driver’s license number on your stereos, speakers, and cellular phones.
• Do not leave your garage door opener in plain sight in your automobile.
• Consider a security camera on your property.
• Report suspicious activity or persons via 911 immediately.
Although parking garages are convenient, it is particularly important to lock your car when parked in one. They are attractive to thieves because they have a wider selection of cars to steal or steal from and it is usually quite in the garage – especially during the night hours. If, you have experienced a theft call the non-emergency number at 247-2500 or if you meet certain criteria, you can file an online report by visiting NNPDonline.com. The most important thing you can do to protect your belongings and your car is to LOCK-IT-UP.
STORAGE UNIT BURGLARIES-LEARN HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BELONGINGS
Most theft from storage units is done by cutting a padlock with bolt cutters. There are several products now available that make this more difficult, such as a disk lock. Disk locks are like padlocks, except they have smaller bars, making them harder to cut.
You may also want to look into the following when researching a good storage facility:
Make sure that access to the facility is secure, i.e., you have to have a code or key to gain access not only to your unit but also to the facility itself.
Is there 24-hour video surveillance at the facility? If not, are there security guards present on the facility grounds?
Make sure you can use your own type of lock.
Check your unit regularly and report any break-ins to the police as soon as possible.
Keep an up-to-date inventory of ALL items in your unit and take photographs – especially of valuable items like jewelry. Record serial numbers where available.
SAFE EXCHANGE (Online Transactions)
The citizens of Newport News who buy and sell items online may now conduct their transaction at the Newport News Police Department Headquarters located at: 9710 Jefferson Avenue, Newport News, VA 23605.
For your convenience, we have designated two parking spaces in front of the building to conduct your safe exchange. The spaces have 24-hour video surveillance. Transactions should be made between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Large, cumbersome household items, i.e. appliances are not allowed. And, of course, the exchange of any contraband, stolen property or other illegal items is prohibited. Remember all transactions are being recorded.
The majority of Craigslist users, Trash & Treasurer users and others selling items online are trustworthy and well-meaning. Nevertheless, please take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline.
When meeting someone to make an exchange, please remember to:
• Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe, bank, or shopping center, or our Headquarters building.
• Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.
• Be especially careful buying/selling high value items.
• Tell a friend or family member where you're going.
• Take your cell phone along if you have one.
• Consider having a friend accompany you.
• Try to conduct your transaction in the day time.
• Only carry the cash you need for the transaction.
• Trust your instincts.
Please keep in mind that the City of Newport News nor the Newport News Police Department is in no way a party to any transaction that may be conducted between private citizens. They assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any loss, damage, injury, or other consequence from a citizen conducting a private transaction on NNPD Headquarters property. No member of the City or Police Department will guarantee, ensure, insure, safeguard, or otherwise participate in such transactions. Nor do we guarantee that a police officer will be on the property at all times.
WHAT TO DO WHEN STOPPED BY A POLICE OFFICER
Your safety and civil rights are important to each and every police officer. We are committed to working with you to ensure every encounter you have with one of our officers is a positive one.
It is important to remember there are many reasons why you might be stopped by a police officer. Whatever the reason, your cooperation is a vital part of the experience.
WHY DO POLICE OFFICERS STOP PEOPLE?
Police officers are trained to identify and investigate violations of local, state and federal laws. Every situation is different. Here are a few reasons for which you may be stopped by police:
• The officer observed a violation of the law.
• You appear to need assistance.
• You are in an area where a crime just occurred.
• You may be a witness to a crime.
• You may fit the description of a suspect.
• You may have been identified as a suspect
WHEN APPROACHED BY A POLICE OFFICER:
Remember, there are several reasons the officer might want to speak with you. Your cooperation is vital. A calm reaction on your part can keep the encounter pleasant and positive.
IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO:
• Follow the officer’s instructions; if unclear, ask.
• Keep your hands visible.
• Make slow movements.
• Tell the officer if you have a weapon (knife, gun, etc.).
• Remain calm and do not become argumentative.
WHAT IF YOU ARE IN A CAR? Follow the tips listed above.
• Remain seated in the vehicle; do not get out of the vehicle unless instructed to do so.
• Keep your hands visible at all times.
• During darkness, turn on the interior light prior to the officer approaching.
• Give the officer your driver’s license and vehicle registration upon request.
COMMITTED TO YOUR SAFETY:
Police officers are highly trained and committed to protecting citizens. If you get stopped by an officer, remember that he or she:
• Is recording the interaction for your and their protection.
• Does not intend to offend you.
• Usually does not have any previous knowledge of you.
• May not be stopping you for the same reason you perceive.
• Is trained to remain in a position that enhances his or her safety, and the safety of others.
IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THE OFFICER’S ACTIONS
• Follow their instructions. This is not the time to argue.
• Ask for their supervisor.
• Note name, car number and call as soon as the officer leaves.
• File a complaint (website, phone, etc.)
Police officers may at any time request permission to search a person, vehicle or property. If asked, you have the right to refuse.
Remember, stay calm and address your complaint when the interaction is completed.
TIPS ON PROTECTING YOURSELF IF YOU ARE BEING STALKED
In Virginia, stalking is defined as conduct (on more than one occasion) which places a person, or his or her family or household member, in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.
Over seven and half million people are stalked in one year in the United States. Stalking is a unique crime, because stalkers are obsessed with controlling their victims’ actions and feelings. Stalkers will frequently threaten and harass, and in many instances will actually physically injure their victims.
Stalking is a crime that can be committed against anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.
What to do if you are being stalked:
• Call the police if you feel you are in any immediate danger. Explain any action that seems harmless but is causing you fear — like leaving you a gift
• Trust your instincts. Victims of stalking often feel pressured by friends or family to downplay the stalker’s behavior, but stalking poses a real threat of harm.
• Take all threats seriously.
• Keep a record or log of each contact with the stalker. Also, document any police reports.
• Save all e-mails, text messages, photos, and postings on social networking sites as evidence of the stalking behavior.
• Develop a safety plan to include things like changing your regular routine and having someone you know and trust go places with you.
Feeling like you are being stalked can have many side-effects including fear of leaving your home, depression, helplessness, and anxiety. Below are two potential resources to help. If you feel like you are being stalked, reach out and get help.
Contact the toll-free Victim Connect Virginia HelpLine at 1-888-887-3418. Information is also available at www.dcjs.virginia.gov/victims.
You can also contact the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime. Phone: 202-467-8700. Email: email@example.com Web: www.victimsofcrime.org/src.
Source: Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime.
CYBERBULLYIING IS REAL AND COULD BE WORSE THAN TRADITIONAL BULLYING
PARENTS: IT’S TIME TO GET INVOLVED
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital device like cell phones, computers, and tablets. It can be done via text, social network platforms and/or e-mail. Cyberbullies may send threats, mean comments, post embarrassing photos, or share private information about someone online. Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying. The majority of victims do not tell their parents about the cyberbullying. However, 64% of teens that have been bullied, report being bullied through Facebook.
When bullied at school at the end of the day it’s over, at least for that day. Digital bullying can be a 24-hour a day, sometimes torturous experience.
The Newport News School System offers hotlines for students to report any type of bullying. As a parent, if you feel your child is being bullied get in touch with the school guidance counselor or other school representative as soon as possible. Although not all cyberbullying reaches the threshold of being considered a crime, it should still be reported to a Newport News Police Department School Resource Officer or other law enforcement. Our resource officers are also available to speak to your children and we ask you to encourage them to do so.
Pay attention to your child’s internet and phone activity. It is ok to check their devices; you’re doing it for their safety. Most social platforms offer a “blocking” option: use this option for anything you find inappropriate and urge your children to do so, as well. In the event the cyberbullying is criminal, or just for your own protection, it’s important to document all interactions.
Again, if you are the least bit concerned that your child is being bullied, either digitally or in person, it is critical you talk to them about the seriousness of this issue and seek help.
Some of the information in this article is provided by Virginia Fusion Center and they have listed the following as potential resources for help with cyberbullying:
DELIVERY DRIVER SAFETY TIPS: LEARN HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
• Be alert to vehicles that may be following you. Note vehicle and driver description.
• Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid areas that are not well-lit.
• If followed, do not exit your vehicle. Lock your doors and go to the nearest safe location and/or call the police.
• Be alert to suspicious persons loitering around the delivery address.
• Don’t flash money during transactions.
• Make sure your car is in good working order.
• Don’t carry more than $20 cash, including personal money or whatever limit your business uses.
• Be cautious of delivery locations that appear unsafe (i.e. vacant areas, no lights, yard has not been maintained, etc.) When in doubt, do not leave your vehicle. Drive to the nearest safe location and call your store or return to your store to obtain further instructions from your manager.
• Carry yourself with authority-head up, back straight, walk confidently.
• If something does not look or feel right, do not make the delivery.
• Immediately return to your store or go to the nearest safe location.
• You should not be redirected to a different address or location after the original order is placed.
• Do your best to shine your headlights on the door of the house or apartment as you near delivery.
• Park your car as close as possible to the door of the delivery destination or park under a streetlight.
• Lock your car and take the keys. Don’t leave your running car unattended.
• Never walk behind a dark building, go to a side door or be called away from plain view by anyone there.
• If someone approaches you, keep them at an arm’s distance away.
• If an emergency occurs, go to a safe location, then dial 911 and wait for the police to arrive.
• Carry a flashlight to illuminate the house numbers and dark areas.
• If you feel threatened and your car has a remote alarm, consider activating the alarm if you believe that drawing attention to yourself would not jeopardize your safety.
• Know where you are going before you leave your store. It is widely recognized that the number one cause of carjacking is a driver getting lost, stopping to ask directions, or stopping the car to look at a map.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A ROBBERY, REMEMBER:
• Personal safety always comes first!
• Try to remain calm. Give the suspect any money or goods they demand.
• Assume that they are armed even if they do not display a weapon.
• Call 911 as soon as possible.
• Try to focus on remembering a good description of the suspect, the car, the
• plate number and direction of travel.
• After the suspect has left, lock yourself and drive to a safe place and call 911.
• Do not go to your next delivery. Remain close by to talk to the police.
• Ask witnesses to remain until police arrive or get their information.
• Trust your instincts.
TIPS ON HOW TO KEEP YOUR DELIVERY DRIVERS SAFE:
• Provide all driver's with safety tip information from the NNPD.
• Consider the driver’s safety and security before he or she leaves the store for their delivery.
• Always ask for a call back number for the customer and verify that number before the delivery.
• A list of all delivery customers, telephone numbers and the order or delivery should be on file before the driver leaves the store to make any deliveries.
• Try to use a “Credit Card Only” Policy for all deliveries after 9 p.m.
• Delivery vehicles should have signs that read, “Drivers carry only a limited amount of cash” or “Drivers carry no cash at all” or “Orders have been paid by credit card. Driver carries no cash.”
• Print the rules of delivery on take out menus for customers. (Maximum $10 in change, etc.)
• Allow drivers to wear regular clothes, not uniforms that make them look like delivery persons.
• For driver safety, avoid late night deliveries as much as possible.
• When making multiple deliveries to different addresses, drivers may need to make for frequent cash drops at the business.
• Do not encourage drivers to carry weapons that could be used by a criminal against them.
• Equip drivers with cell phones.
• Consider NOT having a sign on top of the vehicle so as not to attract the wrong kind of attention to the delivery driver and his vehicle as he/she makes the delivery.
HOLIDAY SHOPPING AND BLACK FRIDAY TIPS
The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit.
Ever since the start of the modern Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season. (Source: blackfriday.com).
It is anticipated that this year, over 152 million people in the United States plan to shop on this day. And, they will spend $9.7 billion dollars.
Here in Newport News we are home to many of the more popular “black Friday” retailers, i.e., Walmart and Best Buy. That’s why the Newport News Police Department would like to share some important safety tips for your shopping security:
• Do not shop alone.
• Always be aware of your surroundings.
• Shop during the day.
• Keep your packages in your trunk.
• Park in a well-lit area.
• Never leave your car running.
• When you get in your car – lock the doors immediately.
• Be aware of your surroundings.
• Do not use walk-up ATMs – go into a store.
• Don’t overload your arms with packages.
• Have your keys out and ready when you get to your car.
• Do not carry a lot of cash.
• Make sure you have a list of all your credit cards and phone numbers in case they are lost or stolen.
• Keep your children in sight at all times.
• Have a meeting place if you are separated from your children and teach your children what to do if approached by a stranger (i.e., report to a store clerk).
• Report any suspicious activity.
• Always lock your car.
The safest place to be on Black Friday is at home. Shopping online is a good alternative but does come with some risks. Here are a few tips for online shopping:
• Use a credit card vs. a debit card.
• If possible, use a disposable credit card, i.e., prepaid card or gift card.
• Always use a secure site. A secure site will begin with https:// vs. http://.
• Never “store” your information.