Property Crimes

How to Prevent Auto Theft

Don’t make your car an easy target for a thief. It takes only seconds to steal a car. Give a thief an inch and he will take your car for miles. Here are some tips to make it harder for the thieves.

  • Always lock your car, close the windows and take the keys. A recent Gallop poll found 31% of us don’t always lock our car doors, 12% leave a window cracked open, usually for ventilation and 14% of us don’t always remove our keys.
  • If at all possible, invest in an alarm system or theft deterrent device.
  • Never leave valuables in plain sight. Thieves are attracted not only by your car but also its contents. They will often smash a window just to steal a car phone, camera or stereo.
  • Never leave your car running and unoccupied, even for just a minute. It takes no time to get in and drive away.
  • Turn your wheels toward the curb and apply the emergency brake. This makes your car more difficult to tow.
  • Park in well lighted areas. The light will help make a thief more noticeable.
  • Have your vehicle identification number etched on the car windows. Drop a business card into your door panels. This may make your car more easily identifiable to law enforcement.
  • Use a high visibility theft deterrent such as a steering wheel lock or security alarm.

Never Forget

On average it takes less than 30 seconds to steal a car. One vehicle is stolen every 20 seconds in the United States. The annual monetary loss due to vehicle related crime is over $7.6 billion per year. Stolen cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles cost time and money and increase everyone’s insurance premiums. Take these simple precautions; invest in an alarm system or theft deterrent device. These steps taken now can save you a big hassle later.

Safeguarding Your Home While Out of Town

It is easy to understand that your home and property is perhaps most vulnerable to theft and vandalism during extended periods of absence. Of course, there is typically no longer period of absence from the home than you are away on vacation. In an effort to prevent an exciting vacation coming to a sad end, we have provided the following list of safeguarding tips to remember prior to you leaving. We hope that these tips are useful and prevent a criminal act from occurring to you.

  • Strive to make your home look as lived-in as possible while you’re away.
  • Don’t broadcast your plans but do let your neighbors and local law enforcement know.
  • Give a spare key to your neighbors and give them an emergency telephone number to reach you.
  • Arrange to have your mail and newspapers either stopped or picked up daily.
  • Have someone mow your yard or rake the leaves so your house looks lived-in.
  • Use automatic timers to turn on a radio and lights at different intervals to hide the fact you aren’t home.
  • Turn down the ringer on the telephone. An unanswered telephone is a dead give-away.
  • Be sure you don’t announce your absence on your answering machine message.
  • Leave your blinds like you normally would if you were home. Only close them all the way if that is what you would normally do.
  • Be sure to close and lock the garage as well as any storage sheds, gates, etc.
  • Engrave all your valuables with your driver’s license number. If possible videotape the contents of your home. Be sure to keep the video and the list of valuables in a safety deposit box.
  • Ask your neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway. If you are leaving a vehicle parked outside, have the neighbor move it periodically so it looks as though you are home.
  • Be sure someone knows your itinerary and your estimated time of arrival and return.

Cell Phone Information

There has been a huge growth in the number of cellular telephones being used in motor vehicles in recent years. Such cellular communication equipment can either be completely portable, mounted permanently in a vehicle (mobile) or a combination of mounted and portable.

Cellular telephones in motor vehicles may be for personal pleasure or convenience, for business or for the primary purpose of safety and security. Every day there are examples of cellular telephones being used to call for assistance in the event of a vehicle breakdown or other personal emergency, to contact police and other emergency personnel, and to report drunk drivers, auto accidents and criminal activity.

The use of cellular telephones can also be distracting and directly or indirectly lead to motor vehicle accidents. The following are a number of tips or recommendations for talking and driving safety:

  • Make sure your cellular telephone is positioned where it is easy to see and easy to reach.
  • Be familiar with the operation of the telephone, so you are comfortable using it on the road.
  • It is best to dial the telephone when the vehicle is not moving, such as at a stop sign or stop light.
  • Use a hands-free microphone while driving.
  • Use the speed dialing feature to program frequently called numbers. This enables the user to make a call by touching only one or two buttons. Most telephones will store up to 99 numbers.
  • Never take notes while driving. Pull off the road to jot something down. If it’s a telephone number, many mobile phones have an electronic scratch pad that allows keying in a new number while having a conversation.
  • Let the wireless network’s voice mail pick up calls when its inconvenient or unsafe to answer the car phone. You can even use your voice mail to leave yourself reminders.
  • Use the voice activated dialing feature where available to place a call so you don’t have to dial. To use it, you simply have to say the name, such as “home” or “office” to be immediately connected to personal directory listings.

If You See a Crime

Be a “Cellular Samaritan.” Dialing 911 is usually free for cellular subscribers. Use it to report crimes in progress or other potentially life-threatening emergencies, accidents or drunk driving.

How to Protect Yourself from Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting of money is one of the oldest crimes in history. It was a serious problem in the early days of our country when banks issued their own currency. By the time of the Civil War, it was estimated that one-third of all currency in circulation was counterfeit.

At that time, there were approximately 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. Each note carried a different design, making it difficult to distinguish the 4,000 varieties of counterfeits from the 7,000 varieties of genuine notes.

It was hoped the adoption of a national currency in 1863 would solve the counterfeiting problem. However, the national currency was soon counterfeited so extensively it became necessary for the Government to take enforcement measures. On July 5, 1865, the United States Secret Service was established to suppress counterfeiting.

Although counterfeiting has been substantially curtailed since the establishment of the Secret Service, this crime continues to represent a potential danger to the Nation’s economy and a source of financial loss to its citizens. Modern photographic and printing devices have made the production of counterfeit money relatively easy. In addition, recent innovations in office machine copiers have given rise to the so called “casual counterfeiter” who has access to such equipment.

How to Detect Counterfeit Money

The Government’s master craftsmen who use engraved plates and printing equipment designed for that purpose make genuine money. Most counterfeiters use a photomechanical or “off set” method to make a printing plate from a photograph of a genuine note.

You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States Money. Look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics. Look for differences, not similarities.

  1. Portrait

    The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the fine screen-like background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background, which is often too dark or mottled.

  2. Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals

    On a genuine bill, the sawtooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct, and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt, or broken sawtooth points.

  3. Serial Numbers

    Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. They are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.

  4. Border

    The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill is clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.

  5. Paper

    Genuine paper contains no watermarks. It has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency. Some people believe that a bill must be counterfeit if the ink rubs off. This is not true. Genuine currency, when rubbed on paper, can leave ink smears.

  6. Raised Notes

    Genuine paper currency is sometimes altered in an attempt to increase its face value. One common method is to glue numerals from high denomination bills to the corners of a note of lower denomination. These bills are also considered counterfeit, and those who produce them are subject to fines up to $1,000, or imprisonment up to 5 years, or both. If you suspect you are in possession of a raised note:

    • Compare the denomination numerals on each corner with the denomination written out at the bottom of the note (front and back) and through the Treasury seal.
    • Compare the suspect note to a genuine note of the same denomination and series year.

Counterfeit Coins

Genuine coins are struck (stamped out) by special machinery. Most counterfeit coins are made by pouring liquid metal into molds or dies. This procedure often leaves die marks, such as cracks or pimples of metal on the counterfeit coin.

Today counterfeit coins are made primarily to simulate rare coins that are of value to collectors. Sometimes this is done by altering genuine coins to increase their numismatic value.

The most common changes are the removal, addition, or alteration of the coin’s date or mintmarks. If you suspect you are in possession of a counterfeit or altered coin, compare it with a genuine one of the same value. If it is above 5 cents in value, it should have corrugated outer edges, referred to as “reeding.” Reeding on genuine coins is even and distinct. The counterfeit coin’s reeding may be uneven, crooked, or missing altogether.

If You Receive a Counterfeit:

  1. Do not return it to the passer.
  2. Delay the passer if possible.
  3. Observe the passer’s description, as well as that of any companions, and the license numbers of any vehicle used.
  4. Telephone your local police department or the United States Secret Service. These numbers can be found on the inside front page of your local telephone directory.
  5. Write your initials and the date on a blank portion of the suspect note.
  6. Do not handle the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope. Surrender the note or coin only to a properly identified police officer or U.S. Secret Service agent.

Design Features for Newly Counterfeited Money

Because of the advances in color copier technology, two new security features are being added to U.S. currency. These new features appeared first in Series 1990, $50 and $100 Federal Reserve Notes. Additional denominations are gradually being phased in. Existing currency and the new series will co-circulate until existing currency is withdrawn at the Federal Reserve banks and branches. Withdrawal will be based on normal wear.

  1. Microprinting

    Concurrent with the addition of the security thread, a line of Microprinting appears on the rim of the portrait on $50 and $100 denominations, beginning with Series 1990. The words “THE United States of America” are repeated along the sides of the portrait. As with the new security thread, the Microprinting will also be gradually phased in on all denominations, with the possible exception of the $1 denomination.

    To the naked eye, the Microprinting appears as little more than a solid line and can only be read by using magnification. Neither of the new security features can be accurately reproduced by an office machine copier.

  2. Inscribed Security Thread

    A clear, inscribed polyester thread has been incorporated into the paper of genuine currency. The thread is embedded in the paper and runs vertically through the clear field to the left of the Federal Reserve seal on all notes except the $1 denomination. If it is decided to use the thread in the $1 denomination, it will be located between the Federal Reserve seal and the portrait.

    Printed on the thread is a denomination identifier. On $20 denominations and lower, the security thread has “USA” followed by the written denomination. For example, “USA TWENTY USA TWENTY” is repeated along the entire length of the thread. Higher denominations have “USA” plus the numerical value, such as “USA 50 USA 50” repeated along the entire length of the thread. The inscriptions are printed so that they can be read from either the face or the back of the note. The thread and the printing can only be seen by holding the note up to a light source.

  3. Illustration of Currency, Checks or Other Obligations

    The law sharply restricts photographs of other printed reproductions of paper currency, checks, bonds, revenue stamps, and securities of the United States and foreign governments. Color reproductions of paper currency, checks, or bonds for any purpose are illegal. No color other than black and white may be used.

    Photographic or other likenesses of United States and foreign currencies are permissible for any non-fraudulent purpose provided the items are reproduced in black and white and are less than 3/4 or greater than 11/2 times the size, in linear dimension, of any part of the original item being reproduced. Negatives and plates used in making the likenesses must be destroyed after their use for the purpose for which they were made. This policy permits the use of currency reproductions in commercial advertisements, provided they conform to the size and color restrictions.

How to Prevent Home Burglary

Home burglaries can be a devestating event that may take years to overcome. In an attempt to provide information you can use to prevent this from happening to you, we have provided this list of prevention tips. While we have attempted to provide as many prevention tips as possible, we recognize that there are many ways which may not be listed. We hope that you use this list as a guideline and that it provides you with useful information.

  • Invest in solid doors and good quality locks on doors and windows. This includes on all sliding glass doors as well. Make it not only difficult but also time consuming for a burglar to gain entry.
  • Whenever you go outside, lock the door and take the key with you, even if you are just stepping next door or out mowing the yard.
  • Don’t put valuables where they can be seen from the window, especially items that can be easily carried.
  • Be sure your garage door can be secured. Do not leave it open when you are away; an empty garage broadcasts your absence.
  • When you aren’t home, use a timer set to turn interior lights on and off at varying intervals as though your home was still occupied.
  • Don’t keep large amounts of cash or really valuable jewelry around the house.
  • If someone comes to your door asking to use the telephone, make the call yourself. Don’t invite them in.
  • Don’t hide a spare key under the doormat or under a flowerpot. Thieves know all the good hiding places.
  • Plant thorny bushes under all windows. Trim back any trees or shrubs near doors and windows to eliminate hiding places for would-be thieves.
  • Invest in a good security system along with motion sensor lights installed out of reach.
  • Don’t leave ladders outside. Keep any tools that could be used to break in your home safely locked away in a garage or shed.
  • Get a barking dog or “beware of dog” signs. If you own a dog and go out of town, have someone come in and care for your dog in your home.
  • Always double check doors at night and lock all windows.
  • Engrave all valuables such as stereos, microwaves, video cameras, with your driver’s license number.Videotape the contents of your home. Keep the video and the list of all valuables in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box.

How to Protect Yourself Against Con Games & Schemes

Our children are our greatest assets. Protecting them and teaching them safety techniques is our responsibility.

  • Teach children never to talk to strangers.
  • Teach children never to ride their bikes alone; always ride with a buddy and always wear their helmet.
  • Teach children to never play in the street.
  • Teach children to always look both ways and watch for cars before entering or crossing the street.
  • Establish neighborhood boundaries in which a child may play.
  • Teach children to never open the door to a stranger when home alone.
  • Teach children that, when answering the telephone, never give out any personal information or let the person who calls know if they are alone.
  • Teach children to be sure to let their parents know exactly where they will be and for how long, and to always call and let them know if they decide to go somewhere else.
  • If a child should see a gun, teach children to stop, don’t touch, call an adult.
  • Teach children to never get into a car with someone they don’t know.
  • If a child feels threatened, teach children to run away as fast as they can.
  • Develop a secret password that must be used if someone unfamiliar is to pick them up from school or play.
  • If a child comes home and something about their house doesn’t look right, teach them to go immediately to a neighbor’s for help.

Bicycle Security Information

Theft is the number one crime problem at the University of Florida and bicycles are the number one target. There are several simple steps you can take to make it more difficult for your bicycle to be stolen. Bicycle thefts are preventable by properly using a good lock and by taking these simple precautions.

Bicycle with U-lock attached to front wheel, frame, and bike rackThe arrow points to the correct location to lock your bicycleBike Wheel with U-lock attached to bike rack, bike absent This is what can result when you don’t lock your bicycle correctly

  • Secure your bicycle to the bicycle racks with a quality hardened steel “U” type lock. Always lock your bicycle with the U-lock by putting the U-lock through the bike’s frame, a wheel, and the rack. This is especially important if your bicycle has quick-release tires.
  • Place the lock on your bicycle with the key mechanism facing the ground. This will make it less likely for the mechanism to fail as a result of exposure to the weather and harder for a thief to tamper with.
  • Avoid using cables, locking your bicycle to itself, or leaving it parked in the same place for a long period of time.
  • Avoid putting a U-lock through only one wheel. The wheel can be removed. Then the frame and the remaining wheel can easily be stolen.
  • If you have quick-release wheels, remove the front wheel and place it next to the rear wheel. Then put the U-lock through both wheels, the frame and the bicycle rack.
  • Park and lock your bicycle in well- lighted areas.
  • If your bike is stolen report it immediately. The more quickly the police are notified of a crime the more quickly you may get your bicycle back!
  • Register your bicycle with the University Police Department. In the event that your bicycle is lost or stolen you will have a better chance of it being returned to you when recovered. This is a free service and any officer can assist you.
  • Report any suspicious activities around bicycle racks.
  • Avoid blocking building entrances, ramps, or handicap areas with your bicycle.

Operation Identification (OP ID)

Operation Identification is a nationally recognized property identification program to deter theft and aid in recovery. You identify your property by engraving your social number or driver license number on the property and keeping a record of each item (be sure to include the serial numbers of the items marked and description.

For unusual or high value items such as computers, televisions, car phones, disk players, special equipment, and etc., it is also advisable to take pictures of the item to further aid in identification.

You may borrow an engraver from the Community Services Division of the University Police Department at no cost.