Information & Services
Knowing how to protect yourself can reduce the opportunity for muggers, purse snatchers and other criminals to strike.
Four Basic Rules
DO stay alert. Keep your mind on your surroundings, who's in front of you, and who's behind you. Don't get distracted. If you're worried about crime, ask a friend to accompany you when you go out.
DO communicate the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going. Stand tall, walk purposefully, and make quick eye contact with people around you.
DO trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.
DO know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants, and stores that are open late.
In The Car
Keep your car in good running condition to avoid breakdowns.
Drive with all your doors locked. Keep windows rolled up whenever possible.
Take the time to check the inside of your vehicle before you get into it. If anything looks disturbed or suspicious, contact a friend or call 9-1-1 to have a deputy check out the car before you get into it alone.
Never pick up hitchhikers.
If you see another motorist in trouble, signal that you will get help and then go to a telephone and call 9-1-1.
If your car breaks down (and you do not have a cell phone), raise the hood, use flares, or tie a white cloth to the door handle or antenna. Stay in the locked car. When someone stops, ask them to phone for help.
Park in well-lighted areas that will still be well-lighted when you return. Lock your car doors.
Be particularly alert and careful when using underground and enclosed parking garages.
If you are being followed while driving, drive to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station or other business, or well-lighted residence where you can safely call 9-1-1. Try to get the car's license number and description. If no safe areas are near, honk the horn repeatedly and turn on your emergency flashers.
Plan the safest route to your destination and use it. Choose well-lighted busy streets and avoid passing vacant lots, alleys, or construction sites. Take the long way if it is the safest.
Know your neighborhood. Find out what stores and restaurants are open late and where the police and fire stations are.
Make sure you know where your children are going and when they go out, and encourage them to play with other kids. Show them safe places in the neighborhood where they can go if they ever feel scared.
Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or side trouser pocket, not in a rear trouser pocket.
Do not flaunt expensive jewelry or clothing.
Talk while you are facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
Know businesses that are open.
Look in the elevator before getting in to be sure no one is hiding.
Stand near the controls.
Get off if someone suspicious enters. If you're worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something and do not get on. (Do not worry about hurting someone's feelings-keeping safe should be your first priority.)
If you are attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.
Jogging, Biking, and Other Outdoor Activities
Choose routes in advance that are safe and well populated.
Vary your route and schedule.
Avoid jogging and biking at night.
Consider carrying a "shriek" alarm.
Do not wear headphones - it is important to remain alert.
What if It Happens To You?
Try to remain calm, try not to panic or show any signs of anger or confusion.
If the attacker is only after your purse or other valuables, do not resist. You do not want to escalate a property crime into a violent confrontation.
Make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of your attacker: age, race, complexion, body build, height, weight, type and color of clothing.
Call 9-1-1 immediately, identify yourself and your location. Contact your local victim assistance agency to help you deal with the trauma that all crime victims experience. They can also help you learn about victim compensation laws and how to follow your case's progress.
On Foot: Day or Night
Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
Do not flash money or other tempting targets like jewelry or clothing.
Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket. Carry only what is necessary and try not to keep currency and credit cards all in one place.
Do not wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
Try to use automated teller machines in the daytime. Have your card in hand and don't approach the machine if you're uneasy about people nearby. Better yet, only use the ATM machines inside of grocery stores, malls, or gas stations.
If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If someone harasses you, do not be embarrassed. Loudly say, "Leave me alone! Someone call 9-1-1! Get away!"
If Someone Tries to Rob You
Do not resist. Give up your property. Do not risk your life.
Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from being victims. Take a Stand!
Make your neighborhood and working place safer by reporting broken street lights, cleaning up parks and vacant lots, and lobbying local government for better lighting in public places.
Initiate a Block Watch program in your neighborhood by contacting your local crime prevention unit.
Planning a family vacation? Whether the destination is Disneyland, Denver, or Denmark, there are certain things to keep in mind. Making the trip fun and enjoyable for everyone is key. But just as important to the success of your trip will be the steps you take to make it a safe one.
Before You Leave
Preventing crime during family travel starts with making sure your home is protected while you are away. The key is to make it look like you never left.
Keep shades and blinds in their normal positions.
Stop mail and newspapers, or ask a neighbor to pick them up every day.
Put timers on several household lights so they turn on and off at appropriate times.
Arrange to have the grass mowed while you're gone.
Make sure all of your door and window locks are in working order and make sure to use them.
Activate your home alarm system (if you have one).
Contact your local police department and have them conduct vacation house checks while you are away.
You might even leave a radio on, or put it on a timer. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway overnight--anything that might suggest someone is home. And, do not forget to lock all doors and windows when you leave.
Packing For Prevention
Preparing for a family trip requires a lot of planning. You need to decide where you are going, where you will stay, and how you will get from one place to another. You also need to decide what to take with you. Planning can decrease the chances of crime joining you on your journey. Listed below are some some tips on what to take:
Clean out your wallet or purse before you go; take only essential credit cards. Plan to use credit cards or traveler's checks instead of cash whenever possible.
Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet in an inside front pocket. Better yet, take a "fanny pack" or wear a money pouch under your clothes.
Pack as lightly as possible. Lots of heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to robbery.
Expensive, designer luggage can draw unneeded attention to your belongings. Pack your things in inconspicuous bags.
Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage, and keep anything of value such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on that stays with you.
Out and About
Your home is secured and you are packed. Now it is time to go. While you and your family are traveling, it is important to remember that tourists make tempting targets for thieves. Often lost or distracted, weighed down with bags, and carrying cameras, plane tickets, money and other valuables, unsuspecting travelers can attract crime like a magnet.
The best advice for you and your family is to do all that you can to blend in with the crowd.
Do not display expensive jewelry, cameras, bags, and other items that might draw attention.
Check maps before you go out so you can tour confidently.
Stick to well-lighted, well traveled streets at all times--no shortcuts.
Always lock your car when it is parked, even if the stop is brief. Keep valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk. Do not advertise that you are a tourist by leaving maps and guidebooks on the seat or dashboard--keep them in the glove compartment.
Traveling safely with your family also means sticking together and keeping an eye on your children at all times. Make sure they know where you are staying (name and address) and teach them what to do if they get lost or separated. You might want to agree on a meeting place, just in case. And by all means, make sure your kids know not to accept rides or favors from strangers. Make your family vacation a memorable one for all the right reasons.
In 1997 the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center convened a coalition of health, public safety, education and community organizations to address the problem of easy access to handguns by children and adolescents. Unsecured firearms in the home, particularly handguns, pose a significant risk for accidental injury and death, suicide and gun theft. The current LOK-IT-UP campaign grew out of this original coalition.
The target audience is the gun owner who feels the need to keep a gun unlocked and loaded. When handguns are kept for self-protection, they are often kept loaded and readily available. This situation is particularly dangerous in homes where children and adolescents either live or are frequent visitors.
Law enforcement personnel were considered credible gun safety authorities by focus groups of handgun owners. Police have knowledge of firearms and firearms safety, yet are not perceived as a threat to gun ownership. When possible, law enforcement personnel were utilized to promote safe storage of firearms.
The LOK-IT-UP partners have coordinated to create and distribute compatible and consistent messages about safe firearm storage throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Consistent and repeated messages are critical to changing community standards and norms in the direction of personal and community responsibility for the safe storage of guns. LOK-IT-UP partners have developed and implemented a number of intervention strategies and are eager to share the successes and experiences with other interested communities and parties.
To learn more about the "LOK-IT-UP" Campaign, and what you can do to better protect children from firearms, please visit their website at: www.lokitup.org.
FREE Gun Locks!
If you are interested in obtaining a FREE gun-locking system, please contact your Community Outreach Deputy, either by email or call (360) 786-5855.
Halloween may be a fun holiday for children, but for parents, trick-or-treat time can be a little tricky. Concerns about children's safety--whether they are out in the neighborhood or back home with bags of treats--can darken the day. To make Halloween a treat for all, follow these safety tips:
Make Sure Your Kids Dress Up Safely
Check that the costumes are flame-retardant so the little ones are not in danger near burning jack-o-lanterns and other fire hazards.
Keep costumes short to prevent trips, falls, and other bumps in the night.
Try make-up instead of masks. Masks can be hot and uncomfortable and, more importantly, they can obstruct a child's vision. (A dangerous thing when kids are crossing streets and going up and down steps.)
Make sure children wear light colors or put reflective tape on their costumes.
Trick-or-treaters always should be in groups so they are not a tempting target for real-life goblins. Parents should accompany young children.
Make Trick-Or-Treating Trouble-Free
Make sure older children trick-or-trick with friends. Together, map out a safe route so parents know where they will be. Tell them to stop only at familiar homes where the outside lights are on.
Try to get your children to trick-or-treat while it's still light out. If it is dark, make sure someone has a flashlight and pick well-lighted streets.
Make sure children know they should not enter strange houses or stranger's cars.
Children should not eat treats until they get home. One way to keep trick-or-treaters from digging in while they are still out is to feed them a meal or a snack beforehand.
Check out all treats at home in a well-lighted place.
What to eat? Only unopened candies and other treats from family or well-known friends. By all means, remind children not to eat everything at once or they will be feeling pretty ghoulish for a while!
This holiday season, do not let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers, and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it is an opportune time for crime.
Homes jam-packed with glittering gifts. Stores, malls, and downtown streets teeming with unsuspecting shoppers. People rushing around, stressed out and careless, looking for last-minute gifts, trying to get everything done. It is enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy!
Here are some tips on how to celebrate safely this holiday season:
If You Are Traveling:
Purchase an automatic timer for your lights.
Ask a neighbor to watch your home.
Do not forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, it is a sure sign you are gone.
If You Are Out For The Evening:
Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone is home.
Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it is just for a few minutes.
Do not display gifts where they can be seen from the outside.
If You Are Shopping:
Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.
Park in a
well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows,
and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Do not overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets.
Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
Shopping with children? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
If a Stranger Comes to the Door - Beware!
Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. And, it is not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there is no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.
Last but not least, do not let holiday stress get the best of your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends, and neighbors, and think about reaching out in the spirit of the season to help someone who is less fortunate or lonely.
Do your part to make the holidays a safe and happy time for everybody-except criminals!
A few "bad apples" have given home security system salespeople a poor reputation. Some are swindlers who will scare homeowners into purchasing their products and even inflate the price to line their own pockets. They may talk customers into a rollover contract that self-renews, forcing the homeowner to pay for another period without authorization.
If you're looking into a home security system, here are a few things to keep in mind to keep from being swindled:
Take your time shopping and researching.
If a security company wants to charge you more then $50 per month for monitoring, don't do business with them and search for another company. Some companies will quote a very low price on the equipment and its installation and then have an extremely high monthly monitoring fee.
Is the monitoring station UL approved? Is the station properly staffed and trained? Gather price quotes from various companies for security and include smoke and fire monitoring.
Make a drawing of your home, or a checklist, and figure out how many doors and windows you need to protect.
Call your insurance agent and ask what discounts are available on your homeowners insurance and what requirements a security system must meet for you to qualify.
Do not lease a burglar alarm.
Always contact the Washington State Burglar and Fire Alarm Association for references and referrals. Their number is 800.248.9272.
If a salesperson tries to scare you into buying their alarm system, terminate your conversation with them. If they have to scare you into buying their product, how good could it really be? If you want to find out what the criminal statistics are for your particular area (for all crimes) then contact your Community Outreach Deputy at (360) 786-5855 for a report.
If an alarm representative tells you that their system connects directly to the 9-1-1 system, terminate your conversation with them immediately. This is against the law and they are lying to you in order to obtain your business. Immediately report them to the Better Business Bureau.
For more on the topic of crime prevention, visit the following websites:
How Identity Thieves Work
They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there is a problem.
They establish cellular phone service in your name.
They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
How to Protect Yourself
For an in-depth document with valuable information and resources to protect yourself from identity thieves, including steps to take if you believe your identity may have been stolen:
For a brief one-page list of useful resources: Click here for a downloadable PDF document.
Families with working parents make up the majority of American families today. These parents share the anxiety, frustration, and even fear involved in leaving children "on their own" when school lets out, child care arrangements with neighbors and relatives break down, or there simply are not any alternatives.
What Can You Do?
Make sure your children are ready to care for themselves.
Teach them basic safety rules.
Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and who they are with.
Are They Ready? Can Your Children:
Be trusted to go straight home after school?
Easily use the telephone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
Follow rules and instructions well?
Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
Stay alone without being afraid or lonely?
Talk it over with them and listen to their worries and ideas. Work out rules on having friends over, household chores, homework, and television. Remember: staying at home alone can build a child's self-esteem, sense of responsibility, and practical skills.
Teach "Home Alone" Children:
How to call 9-1-1.
How to give directions to your home in case of an emergency.
To check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.
To never accepts gifts or rides from people they don't know well.
How to use the door, window locks, and the alarm system if you have one.
To never let anyone into the home without asking your permission.
To never let a caller at the door or on the phone know that they’re alone (say "Mom can't come to the phone right now").
To carry a house key with them in a safe place (inside a shirt pocket or sock) - do not leave it under a mat or on a ledge.
How to escape in case of fire.
To not go into an empty house or apartment if things do not look right - a broken window, ripped screen, or opened door.
To let you know about anything that frightens them or makes them feel uncomfortable.
For more information and resources, visit: www.fightcrime.org/wa
When crime, drugs, and violence spill over from the streets into schools, providing a safe learning environment becomes increasingly difficult. More students carry weapons. Gunfights replace fistfights. Many students must travel through dealer or gang turf. Violence becomes an acceptable way to settle conflicts. When this happens, children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach.
Creating a safe place where children can learn and grow depends on a partnership among students, parents, teachers, and other community institutions.
To help prevent school violence
Find out how crime threatens schools in your community.
Take action to protect children.
Promote nonviolent ways to manage conflict.
How do these ideals translate into action? Here are some practical suggestions for young people, parents, school staff and others in the community.
Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons.
Report crimes or suspicious activities to the police, school authorities, or parents.
Take safe routes to and from school and know good places to seek help.
Do not use alcohol or other drugs and stay away from places and people associated with them.
Get involved in your school’s anti-violence activities--have poster contests against violence, hold anti-drug rallies, and volunteer to counsel peers. If there are no programs, help start one.
Sharpen your parenting skills. Work with your children to emphasize and build their positive strengths.
Teach your children how to reduce their risk of being victims of crime.
Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and whom they are with at all times, no matter how old your child is.
Help your children learn nonviolent ways to handle frustrations, anger, and conflict.
Become involved in your child’s school activities, such as the PTA, field trips, and helping out in class or the lunchroom.
Evaluate your school's safety objectively. Set targets for improvement.
Develop consistent disciplinary policies, good security procedures, and a response plan for emergencies.
Like all of you, employees of the Thurston County Sheriff's Department were shocked and devastated to hear of the most recent shootings at schools in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Even with exposure to violent crimes as part of their daily lives in law enforcement, nothing could have prepared them for what happened to those children.
In their daily contacts with children, parents attempt to be open and trusting of young ones, and in return, children look to their parents for guidance and love every day. Sometimes parents fall short of that need from time to time, but can recover and try harder the next day. Unfortunately, the desire to be a good friend to children can conflict with being a good parent. It does not always work out to be both all of the time. It is up to parents and role models to teach children what to do when tragedies occur such as the Littleton, Colorado shooting (Columbine). The following are a few tips for those seeking assistance in doing so:
Do not be afraid to bring up the subject of the shootings with children. They may have heard about the shootings, they may not have, but don't ignore the possibility. Take this opportunity to let them express their feelings. Are they afraid to go to school now? Do they have concerns about students at their school?
Discuss with them what they would do in an emergency situation should one occur at their school. Encourage them to report any suspicious behavior or comments they may have heard from other students. Random violence is impossible to predict, so discuss an emergency plan of action with them should they ever be exposed to such violence. What should they do? (don't panic, remain calm) Where should they go? (Is there a safe way out?)
Do not be afraid to be a "nosy" parent. Be aware of where your child is and what they are doing, no matter how old they are. Do not feel like you cannot go into their room and take a look around. You are the parent and you have a right (and obligation) to know what is going on in your own home. When it comes to protecting your children, there is no such thing as "invasion of privacy."
If your child is exhibiting disturbing signs of behavior, address it immediately. As parents, you may be familiar with the "fine-no nothing-not really" response. For example: "How was your day at school today, honey?" "Fine." "Did you do anything interesting?" "Not really." "Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about?" "No, nothing." It can be frustrating trying to communicate with kids, but the important thing is to let them know that you want to. Keep asking your questions and let them know you are interested and they will feel comfortable when they really need to talk with you about something.
With the unregulated access to Internet sites, children are exposed to innumerable sites with inappropriate material. Supervise what your children are accessing on the Internet. Don't be afraid to check their files and monitor what they are pulling up. If your child has access to a computer elsewhere, take the time to contact that parent or educational center and find out how they monitor the activity on their computer(s). If they do not, then you may have to consider whether or not you want your child at that location anymore.
Cherish your children and tell them you love them every single day. Even when a child is being punished, it is still appropriate to let them know that you love them. Children are our most precious treasures and it is up to each and every one of us to assist in protecting them. Children are our future and we have the responsibility of raising them correctly. Even if you don't have children of your own, everyone plays a part in a child's life and this role should be taken seriously by all.
For more information and resources, visit: www.fightcrime.org/wa
Although surveys consistently show that persons over 65 are victims of crime far less frequently than young people, many senior citizens are so worried about crime that they shut themselves up in their homes and rarely go out. But isolating oneself behind locked doors and not getting together with neighbors actually makes it easier for criminals to work in the neighborhood.
Seniors are more vulnerable to certain crimes - purse snatching, mugging, and fraud. But you can reduce opportunities for criminals to strike by being careful, alert, and a good neighbor.
Personal Safety Suggestions
If you must carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Don't dangle it.
Avoid dark, deserted routes, even if they are the shortest.
Whenever possible, travel with a friend to run errands. There is safety in numbers!
Have your car or house key in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.
If you live alone, don't advertise it. Use only your first initial in phone books, directories, and apartment lobbies. Or better yet, don't list your name and number at all by requesting a non-published number.
Never let strangers in your home - ever! They may offer a sob story, to which you can call the police if you wish, but do not open the door!
Work out a "buddy" system with a friend to check on each other daily.
If you receive checks in the mail regularly, arrange for them to be sent directly to the bank instead.
Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security devices.
Never put your purse or wallet on a counter while you examine merchandise in a store.
Don't Be Conned
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, older citizens are victims of fraudulent schemes far out of proportion to their population numbers. Keep informed about the latest con schemes in your community by reading the newspaper. Be skeptical about any proposal that sounds too good to be true or has to be kept secret. Don't rush into anything. Check it out with friends, lawyers, or police department.
If you are the victim of fraud, call the police immediately. You may be embarrassed because you were tricked, but your information is vital in catching the con artist and preventing others from being victimized.
Running and walking continue to be extremely popular sports. Each year, more and more people take up running and walking because it is a quick, inexpensive way to stay fit. If you travel often, running or walking is an excellent way to maintain your exercise regimen. Also, many community centers and neighborhood and senior groups are starting walking clubs. Here are a few pointers to stay safe as you hit the road.
Before You Leave
Plan your outing. Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Inform friends and family of your favorite exercise routes.
Know where telephones are located along the route.
Wear an identification tag or carry a driver's license. If you don't have a place to carry your ID, write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside of your athletic shoe. Include any medical information.
Don't wear jewelry or carry cash.
Wear reflective material.
On the Road
Stay alert at all times. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
Run or walk with a partner and/or a dog.
Don't wear headsets. If you wear them you won't hear an approaching car or attacker. Listen to your surroundings.
Consider carrying a cellular phone.
Exercise in familiar areas. Know which businesses or stores are open.
Vary your route.
Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Especially avoid poorly lighted areas at night.
Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles.
Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React based on that intuition and avoid areas you feel unsure about.
Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions - if you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for an open business, theater, or a lighted house.
Have your door key ready before you reach your car or home.
Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is also a good idea to check with police about any criminal activity in the area you plan to run.
Sometimes runners and walkers get lulled into a "zone" where they are so focused on their exercise they lose track of what's going on around them. This state can make runners and walkers more vulnerable to attack. Walk and run with confidence and purpose. If you get bored running without music, practice identifying characteristics of strangers and memorizing license plate numbers to keep you from "zoning" out.
Away From Home
Many people have taken up running and walking so that they will be able to exercise when they are traveling. Remember, just because you are away from home doesn't mean you can let your guard down when you're exercising. Before you venture out:
Check with the hotel staff or concierge to find safe routes for exercise. If there is not an acceptable place to exercise outdoors, see if the hotel can arrange for you to go to a health club or gym.
Become familiar with your exercise course before you start. Get a map and study it.
Remember the street address of the hotel. Carry a card with your hotel address along with your identification.
Leave your room key with the front desk.
Follow your usual safety rules.