he Prospect Police Department is working very hard to prevent crime in our town, but alone we will not succeed. You must do your part. Use common sense and don’t make yourself or your property easy prey for criminals. The information below is intended to help you learn and educate yourself on how to maintain you and your family safety.
Child Safety Tips
- It's never too early to start teaching your children the basic safety rules. Rehearse with your child his or her full name, address, and telephone number, including the area code, and practice placing an emergency call by using an unplugged telephone.
- Teach your child to seek assistance from a store clerk or security guard if you become separated in a store or shopping mall. Tell them never to go into the parking lot alone or with a stranger who offers to help.
- Children should learn to be very aware of anyone else in a public restroom and not to be afraid to scream loudly if someone touches them or approaches them in a suspicious manner.
- A child should learn never to accept gifts or rides from someone he or she does not know well. Adopt a family code word to be used if you have to ask a third party to pick up your child. Advise the school personnel or baby-sitter ahead of time who has your permission to pick up your child in the event you cannot. It's a good idea to provide a snapshot photo of the person along with a vehicle description.
- Teach children how to answer the telephone without giving the caller any idea that parents are not present. Post important telephone numbers near all your telephones at home, and be certain children know how to call you at work. It's a good idea to enlist the assistance of a trusted neighbor who is in close proximity to your home to provide a "watchful eye" or to lend assistance and provide a safe haven in case of emergency.
- Establish rules for having friends over or for going to someone else's house when no adult is present. Agree on some fun ways to be home alone such as reading, watching a movie, playing with a favorite pet, or creating an artistic project. Set limits on kitchen appliances (such as stoves) or items that are not to be used (such as sharp knives or matches) when an adult is not present.
- Map out an escape route to be used in case of fire or another emergency and practice that route until even small children can do it by themselves in daylight as well as darkness.
- Most importantly, keep communication channels open with your children and help your child understand that it's okay to tell you if someone is doing something to them that is inappropriate or makes them feel uncomfortable.
- A stranger is someone you and your parents do not know.
- Don't accept anything from a stranger.
- Don't take anything from a stranger.
- If another person makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away and tell an adult.
- NEVER accept a ride or go with a stranger.
- Shout "NO" and get away quickly.
- Bicycle Safety
- Always wear a helmet. The helmet should fit snug but not too tight.
- Wear clothes and reflectors motorists can see.
- Ride on marked paths and in safe areas. Ride in the same direction the cars are traveling.
- Use hand signals when turning.
- Ride in single file.
- Play areas and parks
- Let your parents know where you are.
- Do not play in the street.
- Fights are not the way to solve a problem. It takes courage to walk away.
- Being Home Alone
- Keep the doors and windows locked.
- Do not open the door for anyone you do not know.
- NEVER say you are home alone.
- Call a parent or neighbor if you become afraid.
- Do not allow friends to come over without asking a parent first.
Across the country, a burglar enters a house, apartment or condominium every fifteen seconds, according to the Burglary Prevention Council. The majority of burglaries are crimes of opportunity, meaning that there are steps that you can take to deny a burglar the opportunity to steal from you.
- Secure Entry Points
- Make sure that external doors are solid rather than hollow core. These doors should have a minimum thickness of 1¾ inch or metal doors no thinner than 18-gauge sheet metal. Use a door peephole or wide-angle viewer to view callers prior to opening the door.
- Make sure the frame is also solid and without gaps.
- External doors should be secured with a deadbolt lock. This lock should have a minimum 2-inch throw, and the strike plate should be secured with at least 3-inch screws. If the lock is within 40 inches of a glass, it should be a double-cylinder deadbolt operated by a key on the inside as well as on the outside.
- Locks are also needed on windows, especially ground level windows. Sliding glass doors also need to be secured with a quality lock. At a minimum, place a bar or stick in the track to help prevent the door from being forced open.
- Lock your doors, even when you are leaving the house for a short period. The best security devices are useless if you leave the house unlocked.
- Check your house from the outside for hiding places. Trim back shrubbery so it doesn't conceal doors and windows.
- If you locked yourself out of your house, how easy would it be to get in? If you can manage it, so can a burglar. Don't hide a house key outside the home. It is better to give one to a trusted neighbor, friend or relative that could respond if you should experience a lockout.
- Never leave a message on your answering machine that might suggest you are not home or that would hint at what time you might be arriving home.
- Glass should not be used in exterior doors or in adjacent glass panels within 40 inches of any door lock.
- French or double doors can be secured by making one of the doors stationary with concealed flush-mounted header and threshold bolts. The active door should be secured to the inactive door by using a deadbolt lock.
- The movable section of a sliding glass door should be on the inside of the fixed portion of the door, and secondary devices such as pin locks or Charlie bars should be installed at ground level. The mounting screws for the lock casing should be inaccessible from the outside.
- A garage door is most secure without windows, thus preventing easy access to locks. If your garage has windows, either paint them or use the frosted contact paper over the glass so a view of the garage is not possible.
- Keep trees and bushes pruned so that they do not provide a hiding place for burglars. A good rule of thumb is to keep bushes near the house pruned below three feet, and keep trees pruned so that the lowest branches are at least eight feet off the ground.
- Keep tree limbs, sheds, and anything else that could be used as a ladder far enough away from the house, so that they do not serve as roof access.
- Additional Security Measures:
- Install motion lights around main entry points.
- Make an inventory of your valuables, including a picture and the serial number when there is one.
- Engrave your name on valuable items such as tools.
- Don't leave boxes advertising a new purchase out by your curb. The box from that new television serves as an advertisement for a would-be burglar.
- Neighborhood Watch:
- The neighborhood watch program is an effective means of telling burglars that neighbors watch out for each other. Be an active participant if you are already in a Neighborhood Watch block. To bring Neighborhood Watch to your area, call the Prospect Police at (203) 758-6150.
Preventing Car Break-Ins
Two common crimes in Prospect are larceny and criminal mischief. In everyday terms, this means having your car broken into. This type of crime often happens in places that have a large number of parked cars such as shopping centers or parking lots. The good news is that there are a number of common sense steps that you can take to reduce the chance that you will be a victim of this crime.
- Lock your car doors. This is as simple as it sounds, but you would be surprised at how much is stolen from cars with unlocked doors. Of course, locked doors don't do much good if you leave the windows down, so roll up windows.
- Don't leave anything of value in the car. The purse or golf clubs that are visible through the window make an inviting target. If you have to leave items in the car, at least put them out of sight in the trunk. The duffle bag with dirty gym clothes might not be of significant value to you. But a thief who doesn't know what is inside might target your car hoping to find checkbooks, credit cards, palm pilots or other items. Always take these personal items into your home when you park for the evening.
- Use safety features if you have them. Examples of these features include activating your car alarm, removing stereo faceplates and putting steering wheel locking devices in place.
- Park in a well-lit area that is visible to others. If your car is broken into, it is important that you report this to the police department. The suspect's fingerprints might be found on your car, or other evidence might be discovered.
- Other measures. If you are a victim, notify the police and make a report. Notify neighbors, neighborhood groups such as Neighborhood Watch or the business or apartment management. Report suspicious or criminal behavior.
Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the nation, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Identity thieves try to obtain your personal information, such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. They often get this information by going through your trash or taking items from your mail box. The thieves then use this information to access your current financial accounts, open new accounts in your name, or charge items or services to you. Your best defense against identity theft is to be vigilant with your personal and financial information.
- Keep Information Confidential:
- Do not provide anyone with your personal information over the phone, Internet or through the mail unless you have initiated the contact or you know who you are dealing with.
- Monitor your financial account billing and reporting cycles. If you do not receive a bill or bank statement on time, follow up with that institution.
- Watch out for mail theft. Promptly pick up your mail and put outgoing mail in a US Postal Service collection box, especially if the mail contains checks or other personal or financial information.
- Purchase a shredder and shred items like charge receipts, credit card applications, and bank statements before throwing them away.
- Order a copy of your credit report each year, and notify credit bureaus immediately if you find errors.
- Be diligent in reviewing bank or credit card statements to see if there is fraudulent activity occurring.
- Cancel credit cards that you do not use on a regular basis so that you do not have numerous lines of credit that can be taken advantage of.
- Be creative with personal identification numbers (PINS) and other passwords. Do not use things that could easily be tied to you such as a birthday or a maiden name.
- Do not carry your Social Security Card in your purse or wallet unless absolutely necessary.
The US Department of Justice Recommends the SCAM Approach:
S: Be stingy about giving out personal information.
C: Check your financial information regularly.
A: Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report.
M: Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.
Additional Security Measures
You can also call the main credit reporting agencies to have your name taken off the list for pre-approved offers by calling 1-888-567-8688.
If you discover that you are the victim of identity theft, you should immediately take the following steps:
- Contact the fraud department for each of the the major credit bureaus.
- Contact the creditors for accounts that have been tampered with or opened falsely.
- File a police report.
- The major credit bureaus are:
Equifax at 1-888-525-6285
Experian at 1-888-EXPERIAN
Trans Union at 1-800-680-7289
Neighborhood Watch Program
What is Neighborhood Watch?
Neighborhood Watch is a group of citizens organized with the goal of taking an active role in reducing crime in their community by working with law enforcement. Citizens are the eyes and ears of their community, which in turn can help the police in putting a stop to problems before they become a threat to an entire neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch groups are asked to be alert, observant, caring and willing to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.
Neighborhood Watch is NOT:
- A citizen vigilante group.
- A guarantee that crime will not occur in your neighborhood.
- A program that encourages personal risks to deter crime.
- How Can I Start One in My Neighborhood?
Contact the Prospect Police Department at (203) 758-6150. This program is highly successful in showing residents they are not powerless against crime.
Specifics of The Program:
- A crime prevention program where neighbors look out for each other.
- A block captain is appointed to be the primary contact with the Police Department, maintain records of the participants, and deliver newsletters and other crime related information.
- Neighbors are encouraged to get to know each other and their routines so they will recognize any out-of-place activity.
- The program provides participants with ways to reduce the risk of being victimized at home, in public places or while in their vehicle.
- The program informs participants on the importance of recognizing suspicious activities and sounds and how to properly report them.
- The program informs neighbors how to make their homes more secure and how to properly identify their property through Operation Identification.
- A Neighborhood Watch block is a body of concerned and involved neighbors addressing issues that concern the entire community.