Basic crime prevention
Crime Prevention is defined as the anticipation, recognition, and appraisal of a crime risk, and the initiation of some action to remove or reduce it. You can have a significant effect upon the security of your residence by taking a few moments to assess its weaknesses and a few more moments to take simple actions (many of which cost nothing but your time or a bit of physical exertion) to eliminate or strengthen those weaknesses. Whether you are a tenant or own your residence does not materially affect your ability to take action to prevent crime; if you rent, however, you must seek permission from the owner or agent for the property where you reside to make any permanent changes to those premises.
Experience has demonstrated the practice of three basic concepts repeatedly deters criminal activity:
- The appearance that an occupant is present and is attentive to the condition of the property is, in itself, a potent deterrent to would-be criminals.
- Physical security equipment, such as alarms and locks, is absolutely worthless unless used.
- The key component in any security system most likely to fail is the human one. Keeping your residence neat and clean, in good repair, and giving the appearance of being home (i.e. being in and out and active inside) is the first fundamental step toward preventing crime there. The second fundamental step toward home crime prevention is to be a good neighbor. Get to know your neighbors and their habits to the extent that you can recognize deviations from normal behavior (and they can do the same for you). Call the police when you observe a stranger behaving in a suspicious manner (loitering and observing, approaching multiple residences without apparent business, or removing property from a neighbor’s residence). A cooperative neighborhood can increase everyone’s collective home security with very little individual effort or time. Another step is to take prompt action to address maintenance problems affecting your security; report burnt-out lights, uncollected trash, graffiti, broken windows, defective security systems and other conditions which detract from the secure appearance of your residence promptly to the appropriate authorities for correction or repair. Finally, make an effort to cooperate with and support your law enforcement provider. Introduce yourself to the officers who patrol your neighborhood; participate in organized security meetings and programs such as Neighborhood Watch, National Night Out, or Neighborhoods Say Thanks; and ensure that your address is prominently marked on your curb, home, apartment, or room.
Security and Convenience
Security and convenience are mutually exclusive; you can’t change one without affecting the other. Security is never convenient, and convenience usually degrades security. Only you can decide what is the appropriate mix of security and convenience for you.
Some of these decisions are “no-brainers”, whether to have a lock on your entrance doors, for instance. Others are less obvious, and many are counter-intuitive.
You have to THINK about security, and security needs to be one of your personal priorities. In University Housing and some rental properties, at least some of these choices have been made for you, and there are consequences should you avoid or defeat the security procedures and devices, which have been installed, for your protection.
In a private residence, you and your family can choose to have as much or as little security as you are comfortable with. In any setting, choosing inappropriately can be very costly in terms not only of assets, but also in personal injury. We urge you to give security careful consideration and ensure you make an informed decision.
Assessing Your Home’s Vulnerability
In order to “harden your home””, you have to learn to “think like a thief”. Consider how a criminal might attack you, your home, or your belongings, and eliminate as many of the opportunities or vulnerable points as you can. When you’ve done your best, ask a trusted friend to try the same thing. When you’ve addressed any deficiencies your friend discovers, then ask your local law enforcement provider whether they conduct home security surveys. If they do, schedule one.
Outside The Home
Your efforts to improve security in and around your home should actually start with consideration of how your home is identified. If you reside in private home or a rental property, is the street address prominently posted? If the rooms or apartments are individually numbered or lettered, is that designation also prominently displayed on or adjacent to your door? You want to ensure that emergency service providers can find you if necessary!
Consider how your name appears on public listings like mailboxes and telephone directories; it is generally considered prudent for females to not list their first name, but instead to list a first initial and last name.
In the University setting, check to make sure your personal information isn’t disseminated inappropriately. Instructors should not list your social security number with your name, for instance, and your RA (Resident Advisor) shouldn’t post your name, room and phone number together in any location accessible to casual visitors or passers-by.
While having an unlisted your telephone number costs extra with some providers, the privacy may be worth the cost. Bear in mind, however, that your unlisted number will not prevent random malicious calls or telephone solicitation.
Marking Your Property
The single best protection against theft loss is to mark every piece of property you own as yours. Deterrent value is inherent in marking, and can be increased by posting warnings that property on your premises is marked. Recording the serial numbers and other identifiers during the marking process helps ensure that you can positively identify your property if it is taken and subsequently recovered, or that you can prove ownership if there is some question.
Almost any article can be marked in some manner. While engraving is best and the most common means of marking personal property, scratching with a diamond stylus, marking with indelible pen, etching with a chemical solution, and painting on ownership marks are also frequently-used methods. Your ability to mark is limited only by your imagination.
You should keep an inventory of your personal property in a safe place (definitely not in or with the property) so that in the event of theft or other loss, you have the information needed to make a police report and/or an insurance claim.
Home security survey
Is your home an easy target for burglary? Take this test to find out.
Burglars, like most people, follow the path of least resistance when going about their work. The first step in protecting your home against break-ins is to identify the features of your home that may make it an attractive target for burglars. Start your security inspection at your front door, and proceed through your home, inspecting all doors, windows, locks, and lights. Don’t forget to examine the landscaping. Answer all the questions to determine your vulnerability to burglary and theft. Circle any “NO” answer.
- Are all doors solid core construction or metal clad?
- Are there windows within 40 inches of door’s lock?
- Are the doorframes strong and tight to prevent spreading?
- Are strikes and strike plates on each door adequate and properly secured?
- Do entrance doors have deadbolt locks with a minimum one-inch throw?
- Are all entrances lighted with at least a 40-watt light?
- Can the front entrance be observed from the street or public area?
- If there is a sliding glass door, are doors adjusted to prevent locks from being forced
- or the door lifted out?
- Are hinges pinned to prevent removal?
- Is there an auxillary lock on sliding glass doors?
- Is there a peephole in the main entrance door?
- Do all windows have adequate locks in good operating condition?
- Are exterior areas near windows free of concealing landscaping?
- Are trees and shrubs trimmed away from upper floor windows?
- Are there auxillary locks for all windows?
Count the number of “NO” answers you circled. Each “NO” indicates an area of vulnerability in your security practices. As you reduce your vulnerability you improve your chances of not be a crime victim. If you have more than a couple “NO” answers, chances are good a burglar could break into your home. Consider reducing your risks with simple improvements in locks, doors, windows, lighting and landscaping. You may even want to consider a home security system. If you rent notify the management of your concerns. Contact your local law enforcement agency for a home security survey. Remember that you can protect yourself from burglary with simple improvements to your home and the application of common sense.
Additional suggestions to further protect property and aid in the recovery of stolen property.
- Be a good neighbor by watching for suspicious activity. Call your local law enforcement agency whenever you see something that doesn’t seem quite right.
- Mark your valuables with an identifying number such as your driver’s license or social security number. You may use an electric engraving tool. Call your local law enforcement agency to find out about borrowing such a tool.
- Post your house or apartment number prominently and keep it well lighted at night. This will aid your local law enforcement agency or emergency medical service to locate you in the event of an emergency.
Crime prevention for housing residence
Crime is the result of opportunity. When you reduce the opportunity for crime you reduce your chances of becoming a victim. Your personal safety and the safety of your property are the important goals of the University of Florida Police Department and the Division of Housing. You can reduce your chances of being a crime victim by practicing simple crime principles and using common sense. Here are some crime prevention tips to keep in mind if you are a resident of campus housing.
Despite sound construction, excellent physical security equipment, good maintenance, and relatively intensive security and law enforcement patrol, theft is a perennial problem in student residence halls. Analysis of crime reports has shown the majority of crimes are thefts of personal property that has been left unattended, unsecured, and unmarked.
Security in residence halls is everyone’s responsibility. Each resident has to cooperate to maintain adequate security. Every time a person props open an outside corridor door, YOUR security is affected. When your roommate, or suitemate, leaves the room or suite door open or unlocked, YOUR security is diminished.
Most students come from an environment where they were not responsible for home security. Many are not used to taking a personal role in security. Finally, many students have not been involved in a group living arrangement. The result is that they don’t realize that their actions affect not only their security, but also the security of everyone else in the residence hall.
Move-In and Move-Out are historically high-risk periods for theft because there are many people coming and going creating a degree of confusion. Property is moving in and out of the halls, is often left unattended “momentarily”. Finally the ability to distinguish those who “belong” from those who don’t is nearly nonexistent.
Periods immediately prior to school breaks are also high-risk due to individuals looking for quick cash. Beware of these and other risks inherent in the residence hall environment. Take advantage of information provided by Housing staff and the University Police in printed materials and presentations.
Ways to improve residence hall security.
- Keep doors locked at all times. Keeping your room door locked can prevent unauthorized entry of your living space.
- Never prop doors open. Exterior doors and doors to individual floors are locked for your protection. Propping them open compromises your safety and the safety of everyone in the building.
- Do not let strangers into the building or on to the floors. If someone is not personally visiting you don’t let him or her in. Criminals can look like anyone. You can’t tell a persons intentions by their looks.
- Do not keep valuables, particularly jewelry, at your campus residence. If you have family heirlooms leave them at home.
- Create a personal inventory. Record the make, model, and serial number of all valuables and keep the record in a safe place.
- Mark your property. Engrave you valuables such as computers, stereos, calculators or other big-ticket items with your social security or drivers license number. (link to op ID)
- Call the University of Florida Police Department at 329-1111 to report any suspicious persons or activities.
Remember that safety and security are shared responsibilities.
Learn crime prevention tips and talk them over with your roommates or neighbors. Report all crimes to the University of Florida Police Department at 392-1111 as soon as possible.
Crime prevention for new students
The University of Florida Police Department wishes to welcome all new and returning students to the University Campus. The University strives to provide an environment that is as crime-free as possible in which you can live, work and study. To do this the police need your help. Take the time to review the safety programs available on campus and learn to protect yourself by learning crime prevention principles. Use the services provided, behave in a responsible manner and help make your community an enjoyable place to live. Remember, safety is a shared responsibility.
SNAP: Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol 392-SNAP (7627)
SNAP is the University of Florida’s nightly campus escort service, which operates 7-days a week except holidays and UF class breaks. Fall and Spring hours are from 6:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and Summer hours are from 8:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. SNAP provides vehicular point-to-point escorts on campus with seven, 15 passenger vans. SNAP employs UF students that undergo extensive employment background checks and initial on the job training. Download the “TapRide” app in the Apple or Google App store. You may also call 352-392-SNAP (7627) for assistance.
The University provides a system of Emergency Telephones. These special telephones mounted on blue poles with the word “Emergency” on their sides are strategically placed on campus to provide direct contact with the University Police Department. Some Emergency Telephones are also mounted in yellow boxes on walls and light posts. The Emergency Telephones are activated by pressing the large red button on the front panel. The police department can identify the location of each call and assistance is sent whenever a telephone is activated. Response time is approximately two to three minutes anywhere on campus. While you are acquainting yourself with the campus, take note of the Emergency Telephone locations. Don’t hesitate to use them should an emergency or suspicious situation arise.
Thefts are the largest single crime problem on campus. Frequent targets are bicycles and personal property that is left unlocked or unattended. Protect your property by following simple precautions.
- Never leave your valuables unattended.
- Register you bicycle and other valuables with the police department. Homeowner’s insurance policy on your permanent residence may cover thefts while away at school. Check with your insurance company.
- When in the residence hall never leave your room unlocked or unattended. Don’t ever prop open exterior doors to the outside. These doors are controlled with electronic access through your Gator 1 card for your safety.
Personal safety is generally the first concern of people on university campuses nationwide. The University of Florida Police Department places personal safety as its number one priority. There are many programs available from the police department to assist the community with their personal safety. Here are some tips to enhance your personal safety.
- Listen to your instincts. If you feel there is a problem get away.
- Stay tuned into your surroundings. Be alert for danger.
- Stick to well-lighted walkways. Avoid isolated, wooded or dark areas. Don’t take short cuts.
- When you run or jog never do so alone. Avoid running at night. If you must run at night use the lighted areas of campus and run with others. Avoid isolated areas and never wear headphones when running.
- Never leave your belongings unattended anywhere.
- Always use a U-style lock for your bicycle. Attach the lock through a wheel, the frame and a stationary object such as a bicycle rack.
- Mark or engrave your valuables. Use Operation ID (link to OP ID) for the most expensive items.
Crime prevention for obscene or harassing phone calls
Violence and crime are increasingly a concern for every community, and our schools are not immune. Statistics show that violence in our communities, especially among youth, does appear to have increased. School shootings have left many with the impression our classrooms are danger zones although schools are often the safest places in the community. When violence does occur at school, it impacts students’ and their ability to learn, the staff’s ability to teach and discipline students as well their willingness to stay in the profession. Finally it affects parents’ and the community’s confidence in the schools.
A telephone call is considered obscene or harassing if it is received at a location where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy and the caller makes repeated calls or makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, vulgar, or indecent. Such a call or language intends to abuse, threaten, or harass any person who answers the telephone. Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls can be a problem. The University of Florida Police Department can help.
Florida State Statute § 365.16 describes obscene or harassing telephone calls as:
Making a call without conversation or disclosure of identity and with the intent to harass, annoy, abuse or threaten. Making a call with conversation and with the intent solely to harass or threaten. Making a call during which any obscene conversation or suggestions are made with the intention of offending, harassing, threatening or abusing the person called. Making continued calls or continually ringing the telephone with the intent to harass.
MAKING OBSCENE OR HARASSING PHONE CALLS IS A SECOND DEGREE MISDEMEANOR PUNISHABLE BY A MAXIMUM FINE OF $500 AND/OR 60 DAYS IN JAIL.
If you receive harrassing or obscene phone calls:
- Report obscene or harassing phone calls to the University Police Department 392-1111. Call the University Police Department and request an officer to respond to your location.
- Pay attention to any background noises, the caller’s sex, accent, speech pattern, or anything else to aid in identification.
- Keep a log of calls received, include, date, time and details of the call.
- If calls are received on an answering machine, save the tape.
- Use the *69 service. By pressing *69 the telephone number of the last caller is identified. This service is available, on all Division of Housing telephones. For telephones off-campus there is a charge of $1.00 per use. When you receive an unwanted telephone call, use this service, record the number and report the number to the police.
Remember, making Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls is a crime. There is something you can do. For additional information call the University Police Department’s Community Services Division at 392-1409.
Crime prevention during after-hours employment
It frequently becomes necessary for faculty and staff members to work at the University during non-business hours (i.e. evenings, weekends or holidays). When this occurs and particularly when the employee is working alone and/or at an isolated workstation the University of Florida Police Department suggests the following preventative safety practices:
- Before you leave home, advise someone where you will be working and when you anticipate returning home. Make sure your family and friends know the telephone number of the University of Florida Police Department (392-1111) as well as the number where you can be reached.
- A cellular telephone is highly recommended. Such phones are consistently proven effective for personal emergency communications and give you instant access to all emergency services anywhere on campus. Carry the telephone with you while in your work area and use the auto-dial feature of the phone to store emergency numbers such as 911 and University of Florida Police Department (392-1111).
- Carry a small pocket flashlight in your purse, pocket or attached to a key ring.
- Do not carry a gun or other deadly weapon. Possession of deadly weapons is prohibited by university policy and is never recommended as a preventative strategy.
- When you arrive on campus, always park in a well-lit parking lot or in a parking garage.
- Transportation and Parking Services offers an escort service, the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP). This service is available from 6:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. nightly during the Fall and Spring semesters and from 8:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. during the Summer semester. SNAP is available to students, staff, faculty, and visitors at no charge. Request a SNAP escort through the TapRide app, online at http://parking.ufl.edu/transit-commuting/snap/, or via telephone at 352-392-SNAP (7627).
- When you leave your car remember to lock the doors. Remotely controlled locks using a key chain transmitter are recommended to better ensure locking and aid in quick entry when you return.
- When walking to your workstation, travel on well-lit walkways. Avoid the temptation to use shortcuts and informal pathways and try to stay away from areas where visibility is blocked by trees and shrubs. When you turn a blind corner, try to walk on the outermost side of the walk, away from the visibility obstruction while keeping your eye on the path ahead. Taking a wide turn allows a greater field of vision and increases the time available for your reaction in a threatening situation.
- Make sure you have the necessary keys or card to access your workstation. Carry the keys or access card in your hand as you approach your work area with the correct key or card readily available for use in the door.
- When you arrive at your building or workstation if there is anything that doesn’t feel right or causes you to be suspicious, trust your instincts and call the University of Florida Police Department. If you enter a locked building, make certain the door closes and locks behind you.
- If the door to your office or workstation is supposed to be locked and is not, do not enter. Go to a phone elsewhere in the building and call the Department of Public Safety (392-1111) immediately. Most buildings are equipped with house phones that can be used for this purpose.
- Know the University of Florida Police Department’s non-emergency telephone number 352.392.1111. Be sure to add that number to your programmable telephone, if available.
- If you leave your office or workstation to use the restroom, remember to lock the office or workstation door behind you. Do not enter a dark restroom.
- The University of Florida Police Department will, upon request from a department head, conduct a security survey of your office, office area or workstation. During this process, recommendations will be made to improve physical security in the area. Programming and training provided by the department will also be offered. To request a survey contact the Community Services Division at 392-1409.
- When you return to your car after leaving your office or workstation, watch for suspicious persons nearby and look into the front and back seats before you open the door.
Crime prevention for those with physical disabilities
A physical disability, whether it impaired vision, hearing, or mobility doesn’t prevent you from being a victim of a crime. Common sense actions can reduce your risk.
Look Out For Yourself
- Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, or waiting for a bus.
- Send the message that you’re calm, confident, and know where you’re going.
- Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk.
- Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants, or stores that are open and accessible.
- Avoid establishing predictable activity patterns. Most of us have daily routines, but never varying them may increase your vulnerability to crime.
- Put good locks on all your doors. Double –cylinder deadbolts are recommended, but make sure you can easily use the locks you install.
- Install peepholes on front and back doors at your eye level. This is especially important if you use a wheel chair.
- Get to know your neighbors. Watchful neighbors who look out for you as well as themselves are a frontline defense against crime.
- If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend record a message (giving your name, address, and type of disability) for you to use in emergencies. Keep the tape in a recorder next to your phone.
Out And About
- If possible, go with a friend.
- Stick to well lighted, well traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through vacant lots, wooded areas, parking lots or alleys.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket. If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked snugly between you and the inside of the chair.
- If you use a knapsack, make sure it is securely shut.
- Always carry your medical information, in case of an emergency.
- Consider installing a cellular phone or CB radio in your vehicle.
Don’t Let A Con Artist Rip You Off
Many con artists prey on people’s desires to find miracle cures for chronic conditions and fatal diseases. To outsmart these con artists, remember these tips:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t let greed or desperation overcome common sense.
- Get a second opinion.
- Be wary of high pressure tactics, need for quick decisions, demands for cash only, or high-yield, low-risk investments.
Potential dangers encountered on the internet
Just as in virtually all other aspects of life, there are persons who will use the Internet as a means to pursue criminal enterprise. Some of these may be personally hazardous to other users.
The Internet is a venue through which people otherwise extraordinarily distant and diverse may communicate with convenience. “Meeting” people on the Internet as correspondents is very easy; discerning any real information about these new acquaintances is more difficult.
No matter if you are meeting people through commercial dial-up services, commercial or free chat lines, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, online dating services, newsgroups, or in other ways, you should be aware of the possible dangers of interaction when conversations turn in a personal direction.
While danger from such links may not be readily apparent, consider that the people with whom you are communicating:
- May not be anything like they describe themselves, and may not even be the gender they claim.
- May not be providing their real name or personal information, and may be using someone else’s account or even a “hacked” account.
- May not be located where they say; the individual whom you believe to be on the other side of the country or overseas may be two blocks away.
Depending upon how you connect, never forget that your communication with a perfectly legitimate person may be seen or intercepted by a third party with much different motives.
If you experience problems during use of the internet that you find threatening or offensive, contact your service provider and the University Police Department. If you live in university housing you should also contact the Division of Housing. Copy any contact information you have on the problem person, including email user id, password or other account/name/address information obtained including the “finger” or other “who is” information your connection client may be able to provide. Keep copies of threatening or offensive messages. These will be needed to trace the offender. Penalties may range from university discipline in some cases if the offender is a university student to criminal charges. The sanctions applied will depend on the act committed. Most commercial service providers will furnish written instructions for reporting this type of problem. If you cannot get the provider to correct the problem or intervene satisfactorily, consider changing to another provider who will deal effectively with such matters.
Tips for Your Safety:
Here are some basic personal safety tips you should consider whenever participating in Internet communication, particularly of a personal nature:
- Avoid giving out personal information such as your home address or telephone number to people you meet on the net; not everyone is what he or she seems.
- Exercise caution when agreeing to meet anyone in person whom you’ve met on the net. Before you arrange any such meeting, at least try to address the following:
- Can you verify, through a third party whom you know and trust, the true identity of this person?
- Is there a way to verify the information provided by this person?
Predators on the net thrive on the anonymity of the medium. You should find ways to positively identify your potential romantic partner before you allow a meeting. Where do they work? Can you call them at work? Where do they live and what is their telephone number?
If you choose to arrange a meeting, make it on YOUR terms:
- Meet in as public a place as possible.
- Arrange your own transportation to and from the meeting.
- Bring a friend along for security; consider a “double-date” the first few times.
- Set your conditions for the encounter, and don’t let your new friend change them.
- Stay near other people and in lighted areas throughout the meeting.
- If things go awry, can you positively identify the person to the police?
- Limit meetings to public places until you are comfortable with the other person and certain of whom they are what they want from the relationship.
The net is very much like our society. The majority are people who do their best to obey the expected rules and behave responsibly. There are always, however, potential offenders mixed in the population. Observe the same precautions on the net you do in everyday life. Beware of the possibilities, and take appropriate steps to avoid situations you know or suspect could be dangerous.
The consequences of using false/fake identification
Fictitious identification includes any identification that has been altered in any way, forged, or unlawfully manufactured. The term also includes using a genuine piece of identification that belongs to someone else whether or not it is valid.
F.S.S. § 322.32: Unlawful use of license is a second degree MISDEMEANOR.
This statute makes it unlawful to display, cause, permit to be displayed, or have in your possession any canceled, revoked, or suspended, disqualified, fictitious, or fraudulently altered driver’s license. It is also unlawful to lend a license to any other person or knowingly permit its use by another.
Example: An older sibling or friend loans their driver’s license to Yonger sibling or friend who uses it to get into clubs/bars; the older sibling would be charged. To display, or represent as your own or any driver’s license not issued to you is also illegal.
Example: Same scenario as above but this time the Yonger sibling or friend would be charged.
F.S.S. § 322.212: Unauthorized possession or other unlawful acts in relation to, driver’s license or identification cards is a third degree FELONY.
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly have in their possession any blank, forged, stolen, fictitious, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued driver’s license or identification card. It is unlawful for any person to barter, trade, sell, or give away any driver’s license or identification card or to perpetrate a conspiracy to barter, trade, sell, or give away any such license or identification card unless authorized.
Example: A person provides false information or someone else’s information about their identity to the Division of Driver’s Licenses and has an official ID card or DL made with their photo on it and the erroneous information they provided.
Example: A friend has a “board” made that you stand in front of and have your photo taken so that the photo looks like an official ID card or DL issued by the State of Florida.
Possession of a “fake id” is serious. Criminal charges have long lasting affects on your future, affects your ability to concentrate on work and school and can cost you time and money in attorney fees and possibly fines. Though everyone seems to do it you can make a decision for yourself. Avoid the possible consequences and use only your own valid identification or driver’s license.
Protecting your identity
Identity theft is the illegal & unlawful use of another’s personal information, such as credit card numbers, Social Security number, or driver’s license number, to commit theft or fraud.
- How do I protect myself from identity theft?
- How do I report identity theft?
- My information was exposed in a data breach