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Public Safety | Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Crime Prevention in the Residence Halls

  • Always lock your door – even when you’re in your room, sleeping, going to the shower or just visiting down the hall.
  • Do not allow strangers or unescorted guests to enter your room or roam about your complex.
  • Do not let unknown individuals “tailgate” behind you into the residence hall; ask who they are visiting and offer to call Public Safety.
  • Never prop exterior doors. Ever.
  • Do not leave keys unattended or give them to unauthorized persons.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen residence hall keys to your residence life staff and to Public Safety.*Report any malfunctioning locks, doors or windows to your residence life staff.
  • Always tell a roommate, friend, RA or RD if you are planning to be away overnight or for a few days; let them know about your departure and your expected return.
  • Report any suspicious persons or activities (including solicitors or unescorted guests) in or near your residence hall to your residence life staff and to Public Safety.
  • Get to know your RA, residence life staff and neighbors.

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Like it? Lock it!

Whether on campus or off campus – whether in the classroom, cafeteria, office, residence hall room or common areas: do not leave your identification, keys, wallets, checkbooks, laptops, book bags, bicycles or other valuables unattended or in open view (e.g., on car seats). In your residence hall room, consider a strongbox to secure personal items and valuables, including credit cards, jewelry, checkbooks, etc. Engrave expensive items with identifying information and record serial numbers.

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Online dating – Safety and Integrity

  • Never give personal information to people that you don’t know (name, home address, phone number, etc.).
  • If you decide to talk to someone on the phone don’t give out your number; call them and use caller ID block.*Use a nickname in chat rooms or message boards.
  • Meet chat friends in public places and with other friends; tell another friend where and when you are going, who you are going to meet and when you expect to return. Take a cell phone with you.
  • Never go to someone’s room, apartment of house that you just met.
  • Never get in a car with someone you don’t know or just met.
  • GUARD YOUR INTEGRITY: once its out on the internet, you can never take it back – it can follow you forever.

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Cyber security

  • Safeguard your computer. Protect your computer from viruses and spies; regularly update antivirus software and spyware, or when new versions are available.
  • Use complicated passwords; change your password frequently; never give your password to anyone.
  • Surf the Web cautiously. Be wary of obscure sites or any site you’ve never used before; shop online only with companies that you know; check with the Better Business Bureau if unsure.
  • Do not allow others access to your email account.
  • Be wary of anonymous “re-mailers”.
  • Do not put personal information or photos on your web page and do not give personal information that can identify where you live to social networking sites.
  • Never leave your computer/laptop unattended.
  • Engrave markings on your computer.
  • Use a secure browser that will encrypt or scramble purchase information or pay with a money order or check.
  • Do not download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don’t know.
  • Make certain that all your personal information is deleted from your computer prior to disposing of it.

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Using Public Transportation

Exercising sound judgment coupled with a confident presence can significantly minimize your risk of becoming a victim of a crime. Consider the following:

  • Project a confident image at all times. Be observant of your surroundings and walk/stand with purpose, as if you belong. Wait in well-lit and populated areas whenever possible.
  • Don’t wear headsets. If you wear them you won’t hear an approaching car or attacker. Listen to your surroundings.
  • Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others, but keep your distance. Keep your hands free in the event a quick reaction is required.
  • Ask directions only from merchants, waiters, police officials, bus drivers and so on. If someone offers advice, thank them but do not accept an offer to be led to your destination.
  • When traversing unknown territory always know where you are going and plan your route (both ways) before setting out. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll return.
  • Always carry some form of identification, preferably picture ID. 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.
  • Do not leave your personal belongings unattended even for a moment. Keep track of purses and wallets and place packages beside you on the seat or hold them in your lap. Do not be obvious with money, cameras, electronics, etc.
  • Be on guard against pick pocketing and purse-lifting, which is a well honed and fine art for experts of this crime, particularly on the subway. A money/passport pouch worn beneath the blouse or shirt is strongly recommended. Carry strap purses, backpacks, wallets and the like in front of you and close to your person rather than dangling behind you.

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STOP! Security Tips for Office Personnel

  • Lock office doors whenever you leave, even for short periods. Never leave your wallet, purse, or valuables unattended. Keep valuables locked.
  • Do not leave keys unattended or give them to unauthorized persons. Report lost keys immediately to the appropriate authorities, including campus police.
  • Lock desks and files whenever they are not in use. As a practice, never leave keys to desks and files in keyholes.
  • Immediately report any maintenance deficiencies that may compromise building security, such as faulty or inoperable locks and unstable door or window frames.
  • Involve your neighbors – when away from your work area, let a co-worker know about your departure and your expected return.
  • Know who belongs in your work area. Be alert for obvious strangers in and around your office, in particular – unauthorized person(s) found in restricted or sensitive areas and those individuals who do not appear to be conducting legitimate business.
  • Contact DPS if you experience minor theft problems over time.
  • Report all crime and suspicious or unusual activity to DPS at 9111. Post the number for DPS in an area where it is readily available to you.
  • Like it? Lock it! Whether on campus or off campus – whether in the classroom, cafeteria, office or common areas: do not leave your identification, keys, wallets, checkbooks, laptops, book bags, bicycles or other valuables unattended or in open view (e.g., on car seats).

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At the ATM

  • First observe the area for suspicious persons or activity before approaching the machine. If you sense something wrong, leave the area immediately and use another ATM.
  • Have everything ready before you approach the ATM; have your card ready, know your code, fill out your deposit envelop before approaching the ATM.
  • If you drive to the ATM location, keep your car locked while using the ATM. Keep your keys handy so you can enter your car quickly after completing your transaction.
  • When you are using the ATM and someone is closer than you would like, ask them to step back a few steps. If they do not step back it may be best to cancel your transaction and go to another ATM location.
  • Report all ATM crimes to the local police and the financial institution

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Be aware of how ID thieves can get your information: they get information from businesses or other institutions by stealing records, bribing employees with access to records, hacking into computers, rummaging through trash, posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to the information, stealing credit and debit card numbers as your card is processed by using a special information storage device (“skimming”), stealing wallets and purses containing identification and credit or bank cards, stealing mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information or completing a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location.

Protecting yourself from identity theft

  • Destroy private records and statements. Destroy credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain any private information. Shred this paperwork using a “cross-cut” shredder so thieves can’t find your data when they rummage through your garbage. Also, don’t leave a paper trail; never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.
  • Secure your mail. Empty your mailbox quickly, lock it or get a P.O. Box so criminals don’t have a chance to steal credit card offers. Never mail outgoing bill payments and checks from an unsecured mailbox, especially at home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and the payee’s name erased with solvents. Mail them from the post office or another secure location.
  • Safeguard your Social Security number. Never carry your card with you, or any other card that may have your number, like a health insurance card or school issued ID. Don’t put your number on your checks; your SSN is the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts. There are very few entities that can actually demand your SSN – (the Department of Motor Vehicles, for example). Also, SSNs are required for transactions involving taxes, so that means banks, brokerages, employers, and the like also have a legitimate need for your SSN.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Whenever you are contacted, either by phone or email, by individuals identifying themselves as banks, credit card or e-commerce companies – when asked for private identity or financial information do not respond. Legitimate companies do not contact you and ask you to provide personal data such as PINs, user names and passwords or bank account information over the phone or Internet. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself by calling customer service using the number on your account statement or in the telephone book, and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.
  • Take your name off marketers’ hit lists. In addition to the national Do Not Call Registry (1-888-382-1222) or https://www.donotcall.gov), you also can reduce credit card solicitations for five years by contacting an opt-out service run by the three major credit bureaus: (888) 5-OPT OUT or https://www.optoutprescreen.com. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number as an identifier.
  • Guard your personal information. Ask questions whenever anyone asks you for personal data. How will the information be used? Why must I provide this data? Ask anyone who does require your Social Security number, (for instance, cell phone providers), what their privacy policy is and whether you can arrange for the organization not to share your information with anyone else.
  • Monitor your credit report. Each year, obtain and thoroughly review your credit report from the three major credit bureaus; Equifax (800-685-1111), Experian (883-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-4213) or at https://www.annualcreditreport.com) to look for suspicious activity. If you spot something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements carefully. Look for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. Keep track of your billing dates/cycles and follow up with creditors if you don’t receive bills/statements on time.

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Responding to Nuisance or Obscene Telephone Calls

  • The best response is no response. SIMPLY HANG UP! Hang up the moment you hear an obscenity, improper question or no response. Do not utter a response or continue to hold the line – just hang up! A reaction is exactly what the caller wants. Any response by you will only encourage the caller to continue calling. It may take the caller 5 or 6 times to get the message, but be consistent and hang up every time.
  • Don’t talk to people you don’t know. Be careful when the caller says s/he is taking a survey. If you have any concern about the legitimacy of a person asking for personal information over the phone, ask the person for their full name, firm name and telephone number. Say that you will call back after you verify the authenticity of the survey.
  • Place ads with caution. When placing an ad in a newspaper or on a bulletin board, use a newspaper or post office box number if possible. If you must use your phone number, do not list your address. Crank callers are avid readers of the classified ads.
  • Don’t let your answering machine or voice mail give you away. Don’t say: “I’m out of the office”; “I’m not at home at the present time”; “I’m away for the weekend”. Also refrain from using names or giving out the phone number. Use “we” instead of “I” (as in “we can’t come to the phone right now”).
  • Immediately report threats of violence or physical harm. While the vast majority of obscene and annoying phone calls are simple pranks, threats of violence must be taken seriously.

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Protecting against Auto Theft

In an effort to thwart this crime MPD recommends the following:

  • Use a steering wheel lock when your car is parked. While these devices are not foolproof, a thief may decide it’s not worth the effort. A club as an anti-theft device is better than nothing.
  • Consider an alarm system or lo-jack.
  • Consider the auto lock that goes on the brake pedal, which prevents your car from being able to shift into drive.
  • Consider a hidden kill switch or tracking device.
  • Join the Watch your Car Program, which allows MPD to stop your vehicle if it is being driven in the early morning hours to make sure it isn’t stolen.
  • Under no circumstances should you leave your keys in the car with the car running.

DC’s Top 10 stolen cars

  1. Dodge Caravan
  2. Toyota Camry
  3. Ford Taurus
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Jeep Cherokee
  6. Dodge Intrepid
  7. Dodge Neon
  8. Plymouth Voyager
  9. Dodge Stratus
  10. Honda Civic

For more information concerning these programs or devices contact: MPD 5th District Patrol Service Area 501 at (202) 698-0121

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Protecting against Theft from Autos

  • Always lock your car whenever it is unattended, even for a moment.
  • Leave nothing visible in your car; this is an invitation for theft. Do not leave expensive property, such as laptops, CD cases, money, purses, cell phones, and portable stereos in plain view in your car. Lock them in your trunk or take them with you. Cover up conspicuous stereo equipment.
  • If you have expensive stereo equipment in your car, consider investing in a car alarm. If you have a car alarm, turn it on whenever you leave your car unattended.
  • Record the brand, model numbers, and serial numbers of all electronic equipment installed in your car. In the event of theft, give this information to the police. If the equipment is recovered, it can then be returned to you. Also engrave your driver’s license number on this equipment.
  • Engrave your Vehicle Identification Number (found on your registration or under the windshield on the driver’s side) on the doors, windows, fenders, and trunk lids of your car. This helps prevent theft, because the thief will need to replace these parts before selling the car.

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Protecting Your Bicycle

Bicycles are among the most popular forms of transportation on campus which makes them a popular target of thieves. Help protect your bicycle by taking these simple steps:

  • Always lock your bicycle, even if you are going somewhere for only a minute or two. Always secure your lock through the frame as well as both wheels. Do not merely lock your bicycle to itself, but lock it to something solid such as a bicycle rack.
  • Make sure your bicycle lock is adequate for the task. Bike thieves often check out bike racks looking for “bargains,” the best bike with the cheapest looking lock. Investing a few extra dollars in a good lock can end up saving you money and grief down the road.
  • Register your bicycle with the Metropolitan Police Department (this can be done at any police district station). If your bicycle is registered, then stolen and recovered, the police will know you are the owner and can return it to you.
  • Also record the serial number of your bicycle. If your bicycle is stolen, report the theft to the police and give them the serial number. If the bicycle is stolen and recovered, it can then be returned to you.
  • On bicycle safety and protection: be responsible and take extra care – obey all traffic laws and yield to pedestrians (who have the right of way).

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Contact the Department of Public Safety at 202-884-9111.

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