Thieves look for what police term "targets of opportunity."
There are many things you can do to avoid becoming one of the victims, especially when you
are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time.
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- Arrange for the Fort Smith Police Department to check your house periodically.
- Double check second floor, garage and basement windows--areas that are often forgotten.
- Arrange to have mail and deliveries picked up by your neighbor.
- Leave a car in the driveway. Have outside lights turned on and off with a timer.
- Arrange to have the yard cut and bushes trimmed.
- Have several timers attached to lights in various locations throughout the house.
- Ask neighbors to check your house regularly. Leave a number with them where you can be
located. Ask them to use your garbage cans.
- Dont tell everyone about your vacation plans.
- Dont leave notes on your door for deliveries, friends, etc..
- If you return home and find a break-in, do not enter the house. Call police at once
using a neighbors phone.
- Make an inventory of your property. Mark your valuables with an engraver. Use your
drivers license number (and State) as identification on your property.
- Make sure your doors and windows are locked with the deadbolt lock and auxiliary locks.
Most muggers are youngbetween the ages of 14 and 29. These young
criminals can instantly turn violent during the commission of their crime. Robberies often
occur in isolated places or places not readily visible to the public. They also occur at
or near parking lots, alleys, parks, and retail establishments. Here are some tips that
might keep you from being a victim.
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- When entering any bank, market, or store, take a split second to see what is going on
inside. Dont go in if something seems suspicious.
- Avoid exposing your money in public. If possible pay by credit card. If you do pay with
cash, avoid flashing large bills or counting the money in front of others.
- Avoid wearing expensive looking jewelry. It often draws attention to you as a profitable
mark for a robber.
- Be aware of trouble locations and always be alert to your surroundings. If your
intuition says "something is wrong" something probably is.
- Avoid carrying packages that advertise expensive contents. Have the purchase placed in
plain or natural packages or bags.
- Take out a $20.00 life insurance policy. Keeping twenty dollars readily available for a
would-be robber may satisfy his need for drug money. If you have no money he or she may
get angry enough to hurt you.
- Never count or visually expose how much money you are going to deposit or have received
when you are at the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM).
- As you approach the ATM take a good look for any suspicious persons or circumstances.
- Have your ATM access card ready and in your hand when you approach the ATM. Secretly
punch in your personal identification number (PIN) by using your body to block the view of
- Always keep a safe distance between you and others.
- Should you be confronted by a robber Remain calm Do not resist Give
up your money, jewelry, etc. Cooperate with the robber give him time to get
away call the police and report the incident.
Though most kids pass through childhood without ever experiencing
physical harm, some are frightened or hurt by crime. Adults can make a difference in a
childs life by listening to what they are saying about other people or places.
Adults must also teach children how to protect themselves in threatening situations. Here
are some things you can do to protect your children
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- Rehearse their name, address and phone number (including the area code).
- Teach them how to make an emergency call from a home phone and pay phone.
- Help them become aware of dangers around them such as vacant houses, wooded areas, bad
lighting, busy streets with no sidewalks, etc.
- Show them safe places in the neighborhood where they could go for help in an emergency.
- Make sure they know to go to a store clerk or security guard - but never outside- if
they get lost in a store.
- Tell them that no one should ask to touch them anywhere their bathing suit covers, and
that they should not be asked to touch anyone else in those areas.
- Remind them that nobody should ask them to keep special secrets from you.
- Have them walk confidently and stay alert to what is going on in the area around her.
- Ask them to watch out for the smaller children and to report anyone how lurks around
parks, bathrooms, schools and etc.
- Teach them how to write down a tag number.
- Make sure they can reach you by phone if they must be home alone.
- Post the numbers to emergency services, your work, a trusted neighbor, and a family
member, near the telephone.
- Have them check in with you when they get home and before they go to a friends
- Agree on rules for having friends over when no adult is present.
- Remind them to never open the door to anyone including a repairman, a salesman, or an
- Teach them to never tell anyone they are home alone either through the door or on the
phone. Kids should always say the their parents are busy.
"Stay away from strangers" is a popular warning to children
to prevent abduction or exploitation. The term stranger suggests a concept that children
do not understand and is one that ignores what we do know about the people who commit
crimes against children. It misleads children into believing they should be aware only of
individuals who have an unusual or sloppy appearance. While occasionally a
"stranger" will abduct or exploit a child, many children are harmed by people
who have some type of familiarity with them.
It is more appropriate to teach our children to be on the lookout for
certain kinds of SITUATIONS or ACTIONS rather than certain kinds of individuals.
Many of us are not used to making decisions about home repairs,
insurance policies or investments. We are bombarded by calls from people claiming to be
for a good cause or someone using high-pressure tactics to sell a bargain item. If we are
not careful we may reveal facts about ourselves which allow con artists to clean out our
bank accounts and use our credit card numbers.
Con artists are experts in human psychology and behavior. They are
self-assured and are smooth talkers. Their games are often hard to detect, but you can
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- Dont do business with someone who has to go door-to-door to solicit business.
Reputable companies have enough to do without having to solicit customers. Remember to get
recommendations from friends, family and others you trust about reputable contractors you
can use. Get several estimates, and then compare the prices and terms of the estimates.
When you hire a contractor, obtain a written guarantee. Never pay for a job in advance!
Make arrangements to pay in installments and then only for the amount of work completed.
- Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics.
- Never buy property sight unseen.
- Never trust anyone who tells you "buy now or the deal is off."
- Be cautious of anyone who wants you to invest in a promising company. Often the company
quietly closes and you lose.
- Make sure any donation you make is well spent. Pick a favorite charity or two then check
them out completely. Dont be pressured or shamed into donating to groups you
dont know about. Many swindlers come up with false charities with names similar to
- Beware of someone who befriends you then asks you to put up "good faith" money
in order to share in unexpectedly found money or valuables.
- Never give out social security or credit card numbers over the phone.
- Look out for someone claiming to be a FBI agent, bank examiner, police officer or bank
employee, wanting you to withdraw money to assist in an investigation. You are being
If you believe you are being, or have been conned, contact the police
immediately. Do not be embarrassed. If you report your misfortune, you may prevent others
from meeting the same fate.
Stolen cars, vans, trucks and motorcycles cost victims time and
moneyand increase everyones insurance premiums. Theyre also often used
to commit other crimes. Dont become a victim of this serious crime.
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- Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when youre away from it,
even for just a minute.
- Always roll up the windows and lock the car, even if its in front of your home.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk
or at least out of sight. Purses, packages, electronics, etc. should be left at home if
they are not needed.
- Always park your car in a well-lighted area or where it will be in plain view of others.
If the criminal feels someone will witness his crime, he will likely go elsewhere.
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- You can do something about crime in your neighborhood by participating in
- Neighborhood watch programs belong toand are run bythe people in the
neighborhood, not the police.
- They have been proven to reduce neighborhood crime by as much as 60%, but are equally
effective in neighborhoods with no or low crime rates.
- The police department helps train members in home security and reporting skills, and
gives information about crime patterns in the neighborhood.
- The "Watch" group usually has a Coordinator and Block Captains
who are responsible for organizing meetings and relaying information to members.
- Everyone is a Block Watcher who keeps an eye out for suspicious activity and
calls police if need be.
- Effective Watches build a sense of community by having regular meetings which give
neighbors a chance to know each other. Some even publish a newsletter with crime
prevention and neighborhood highlights.
Did you know that 9 out of every 10 arrests are made because
of a neighborhood tip? The following list of suspicious activities highlights only a few
of the many suspicious acts criminals do every day. You will not be in trouble if you call
the police about something suspicious. At the very least make your neighbors aware of the
situation so they can watch too.
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- Anyone looking in a car or home.
- Anyone forcibly entering a car or home.
- Someone running from a home or business.
- Someone carrying a weapon.
- Someone screaming.
- An unknown adult talking to children, offering them candy or gifts or asking them for
- Someone who does not belong in the area.
- A person walking in the neighborhood with items which could be stolen.
- Anyone ringing your doorbell or knocking on your door without an unreasonable
- Persons loitering around a schoolyard or park.
- Strange vehicles parked in your area for several hours.
- A clean automobile with dirty or damaged tags.
- Groups of people loitering or walking through your neighborhood.
Assaults can happen to anyone at any time and any place. There are
several things you can do to reduce your chances of being attacked.
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- Keep your home securely locked and well lighted.
- Install a peephole in the door and use it.
- Beware of unexpected service calls or sales calls.
- Check identification before letting someone you dont know in your house.
- Offer to make a phone call for a stranger who wants in to use your phone.
- If you come home and see signs of forced entry, go to a neighbors house and call
the police to make sure nobody remains inside your home.
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- Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
- Stay in well lighted areas as much as possible.
- Walk confidently and at a steady pace.
- Walk close to the curb. Avoid doorways, bushes and alleys.
- Try not to walk alone especially at night, and always avoid areas where there are few
people. The more people who see you walking, the less likely the assailant will want to
make you his victim.
- Be careful when people stop you for directions. Always reply from a distance and never
get too close to the car.
- If you are in trouble, attract help any way you can. Scream for help or yell
"fire" to attract attention.
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- Keep your car in good working order and the gas tank at least half full.
- Park in well-lighted areas and lock the doors, even if youll only be gone a short
- Have your key ready before you reach your car but check the front and rear seats before
you get in.
- Drive with your doors locked no matter what area you are in.
- Keep valuables such as purses and packages, out of sight.
- If you think you are being followed dont drive home. Drive to an open gas station
or business where you can call the police. If you can do so safely, get a tag number and
description of the car.
- If an unmarked police car attempts to stop you, signal to the officer that you see him
and proceed to the nearest open business where there will be other people to watch. An
assailant will usually go on when you involve witnesses.
IF YOU ARE ATTACKED
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- Keep your head. Stay as calm as possible, think rationally and evaluate your resources
- Keep assessing your situation as it is happening. If one strategy does not work, try
another. Possible options are negotiating, stalling for time, distracting the assailant,
and fleeing to a safe place.
DO YOU NEED A WEAPON?
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- Beware of the false security mace, pepper spray, electronic stun guns or handguns may
give you. Weapons that are intended to hurt an assailant are often taken away and used
- Carry a personal body alarm that makes a piercing noise and draws attention to your
When reporting a crime to the police there are certain terms used to
tell what has happened. There is a big difference in the legal meaning of these terms and
the manner in which the police will respond to the crime. The following definitions are in
general terms and are not "law book" definitions so some exceptions will apply.
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BURGLARY - Entering into a home or business undetected with the
intent of taking valuables or committing a serious crime.
BREAKING OR ENTERING - Entering into a car, outbuilding, coin operated
machine with the intent of taking items or committing a serious crime.
ROBBERY - Using force or at least threatening to use force against
someone with the purpose of getting valuables.
THEFT - Taking the property of another with the intent of denying
the owner the use of the property.
CRIMINAL TRESPASS - Remaining unlawfully in or on a car or the
property of another person.
ASSAULT - Threatening by word or act to do violence to someone.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT - Purposely doing something which
creates a substantial danger of death or serious injury to someone else.
BATTERY - Intentionally causing an injury to someone.