Holiday crime prevention
By Jennifer Danner
Seattle Police Department SW Precinct
Crime Prevention Coordinator
The winter Holidays are upon us! As we head into the Holiday Season, the Seattle Police Department often sees an increase in a variety of criminal activity- including package/mail theft, street robberies, residential burglary and car prowl. Please read the following crime prevention bulletin, addressing each of these four types of crimes.
As always, one of the most important things to remember is ‘If you see something- Say something!’ and to call 911 immediately to report suspicious behavior.
Around this time of year, we not only see an increase in the quantity of mail and packages delivered, but we also see an increase in theft. In order to reduce your risk of mail and package theft, we recommend the following helpful tips. For mail- never send cash in the mail, don’t leave outgoing mail unattended in the mailbox for pick up- drop it off at the post office instead, if you are going out of town- ask the post office to hold your mail until you return, keep your mailbox in good repair, make sure it is properly installed and consider a locking mailbox (contact your local postmaster for regulations). For packages- consider choosing a shipping method that requires a signature, ask the delivery service to hold the package for customer pick up, track packages/shipments online, considering buying a locking bin for packages, arrange to have the package delivered to work or a location where someone else can receive it and if none of these are viable options- at the very least request the package be placed in a discrete location that is not visible from the street.
When it comes to personal safety and street robbery prevention, the most important tip to remember is to always be aware and trust your instincts. Also, the SPD offers free Women’s Personal Safety Trainings- see page two for information about our next class. Below you will find specific suggestions tailored to specific topics/locations-
General Safety Tips
-Keep your head up and scan your surroundings, avoid ‘auto pilot’. Make eye contact with others so they are aware that you see them. This sends a message that you know they are there, and that you can also identify them if necessary. Walk confidently, project an assertive, confident image
-Use common sense- plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways. Stick to well-lit areas as much as possible
-Develop a plan before you see trouble- crossing the street or entering a store may get you out of a potentially bad situation
-If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking- do not approach it, instead turn around and walk quickly in the opposite direction
-If you are being followed, or you see a person or group that makes you feel uncomfortable, give yourself permission to act, cross the street, walk in another direction, go into a business or ask other people walking if you may walk with them
-Consider wearing clothing and shoes that you can move freely and quickly in, especially when walking or waiting for the bus
-Carry minimal items- overloading yourself can make you appear vulnerable
-When buying or selling items on secondhand goods websites (such as OfferUp, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace), meet buyers/sellers in well lit public places. Consider meeting in the SW Precinct parking lot or lobby for increased safety
Safety on the Street
-Be cautious when carrying valuables (including holiday presents, shopping bags, jewelry, money or electronic devices)- keep hidden and/or secured- always keep positive control over your items
-When using an ATM- choose one located in a well-lit, busy area- like inside a grocery store and always put away your cash and card before leaving. Never display large sums of cash and don’t carry more cash than is necessary. If possible, never use an ATM at night
-Carry your purse very close to your body (preferably with a strap across your body if possible). Avoid walking alone at night
-Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers
-If you are wearing headphones, make sure you are still able to hear outside noise
Responding to a Confrontation
-If a robber grabs your bag/purse- resist the urge to play tug-of-war. If you hang on chances are- you will be knocked down and further assaulted
-If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, don’t resist. Your physical property isn’t worth getting injured or killed over
-Don’t pursue the thief, put distance between you and the thief
Spot and Avoid Potential Trouble
-Be aware of your surroundings and know who is nearby
-Pay attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger. Trust your instincts!
In additional to traditional residential burglary prevention strategies, there are some unique tips to consider around the Holiday Season! Try not to visibly display wrapped or received gifts through windows or doors, dispose of packaging- in which gifts or other purchases come in- by breaking down boxes and turning them inside out so the exterior writing does not show, and don’t put these boxes on the curb/near trash bins until collection day. Do not run holiday light extension cords inside through a window or door- consider installing an exterior outlet for your holiday lights, so that you don’t provide an opened and unlocked entry point into your home and if you are going to be away, let your trusted neighbor know when you plan to be out of town, so that they can watch your home and call 911 to report suspicious activity if seen. If are you going out of town- also consider submitting a ‘Request to Watch’ by calling the SW Precinct, and/or stopping by and speaking to the Desk Officer.
Lastly, regarding car prowls- we often see an increase in this particular crime around the holiday season due to holiday shopping and transporting gifts for holiday celebrations. As always, it is extremely important to keep these prevention tips in mind- never leave valuables in plain view (including holiday gifts- wrapped or unwrapped), hide chargers and accessories that indicate an electronic device may be in the vehicle, remove garage door openers, key cards and other keys from the vehicle, install anti-theft devices, if possible- activate alarm, whenever possible- park vehicle in a busy, locked, monitored and/or well-lit areas and always transport gifts in the trunk or in a concealed area. Keep in mind that the SW Precinct does offer free vehicle anti-theft devices! Contact me directly if you are interested!
Below you will find my contact information, including email address and phone numbers. Keep an eye out next month for a crime prevention bulletin! Below you will also find upcoming events in the SW Precinct in the next month, as well as other resources- such as the Seattle Police non-emergency phone number, the link for our online-reporting system and the link for how to ‘thank an SPD employee’. Contact me directly with questions, concerns, to request my presence at a future meeting, to discuss Block Watch, to request a free safety/security assessment of your home or business and/or if you are interested in free firearm cable locks or vehicle clubs. Please also contact me if you would like information about our new Paws on Patrol program, which launched in September 2019.
Email address: Jennifer.Danner@seattle.gov
Desk phone number: (206) 256-6820
Cell phone number: (206) 471-2849
Upcoming events in SW Precinct-
- Women’s Personal Safety Training
- Saturday December 14th, 10am- 1pm, at the SW Precinct Community Meeting Room (2300 SW Webster St)
- To register for this class, please visit the link- https://www.eventbrite.com/e/79348279841
- Seattle Police Department Non-Emergency Number: (206) 625-5011
- Seattle Police Department’s Website: http://www.seattle.gov/police/
- Seattle Police Department’s Online Crime Reporting: https://www.seattle.gov/police/need-help/online-reporting
- Seattle Police Department’s ‘Thank An Employee’: https://www.seattle.gov/police/about-us/contact-us/thank-an-employee
- Contact information for other SPD Crime Prevention Coordinators: