The Boston Police Department would like to take this opportunity to offer some helpful safety tips to community members. Keep these tips in mind in an effort to protect you and your loved ones from becoming a victim of a crime of opportunity.
Ensuring Personal Safety
- Always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
- When parking, walking or returning to your car, travel in well-lit and populated areas.
- Wear sneakers or shoes that allow for added mobility.
- Be watchful and aware. Keep your head up. Make quick eye contact with those around you and be observant of passing vehicles. Don’t become distracted by talking on a cell phone or listening to an iPod/similar device.
- Avoid walking alone late at night. Walk with friends and people you know.
- Keep a whistle within reach. If threatened, use the whistle to signal residents for help. Yelling “Fire!” “Help!” or “Rape!” are ways of drawing attention and alerting people of your situation.
- Hold your car keys in your hand to use as a weapon against an attacker.
- Carry a cell phone and call ahead to your destination to alert them that you’re on the way. Make sure you’re expected at a certain time, so in the event you fail to show up, those expecting you will know enough to begin looking for you.
- Walk with confidence. Don’t let anyone violate your space. Trust your instincts. Anyone at anytime can be a victim of crime so never assume, “IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME.”
- If an unarmed attacker confronts you, believe in your ability to defend, distract, or even incapacitate the attacker enough to escape.
- If you think that someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk towards an open store, restaurant or residence.
Commercial Robbery Prevention
To Prevent A Robbery
- Keep your front doors and windows clear of signs and posters to allow good two-way visibility. Employees can see suspicious persons inside. Passers-by can see inside.
- Keep the outside of your business well lit at night.
- Use video surveillance and make it well known. Use cameras or mirrors to observe all areas of the store.
- Greet everyone who enters your business. Be alert for customers who seem to be loitering or glancing around the store while appearing to shop or browse through a magazine.
- If you someone who is acting suspicious inside or outside, call the police to have them checked out.
- Keep side and back doors locked. Have employees use the main entrance, if possible.
- Place markers at the entrance that employees can use to help gauge the height of a robber as he leaves.
- Make bank deposits as often as possible, never less than once a day.
During A Robbery
- Try to stay calm.
- Do not make any sudden movements to upset the robber.
- Do not resist.
- If possible, try to get a good look at the robber so that you can describe him later.
- Note the direction of flight.
- Without exposing yourself to harm, get a description of the robber’s vehicle.
After The Robbery
- Call the police immediately after the robbery, even if you have already activated the alarm.
- Step outside the store when the police arrive so they will know the robber is gone and you are safe.
- Do not touch anything that the robber may have touched (for fingerprints).
- Ask any witnesses to stay or get their names and telephone numbers (to be reached by the police).
- Do not discuss the amount of money taken with anyone other than the police.
Surveillance Equipment Information
- Replace VHS videotapes every 12 sessions.
- Use a different tape for each day of the month.
- Clean the lenses of the video cameras with camera lens paper.
- Insure the correct date & time on your video camera.
Bicycle Theft Prevention
- Get a U Lock for your bike. The overwhelming majorities of stolen bikes are locked with a cable or chain, or weren’t locked at all. The least expensive U-lock is better than the best chain.
- A bike being unlocked is a bigger factor in whether it gets stolen than how expensive the bike is.
- Most bikes that are stolen have been left unlocked “just for a minute”
- Lock the front wheel to the frame, if you can lock it to something.
- Don’t use parking meters or sign polls because the bikes can easily be lifted over and taken away in seconds.
- Avoid parking bike overnight in public if you can avoid it.
- Take a picture of your bike to help identify it if is stolen.
- Write down your bike serial number and etch your driver’s license number 2 places on your bike. Using the drivers license number will greatly assist police in recovery of stolen bikes.
- Stolen bicycles unlike motor vehicles are extremely difficult for police to recover. Check with the BPD warehouse and ask to look at confiscated bikes.
- Most bicycle recoveries have been initiated by the victim because they have spotted it being used in the neighborhood, advertised on-line or being sold at a second hand bike shop.
- Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation, and students may be particularly vulnerable to this crime.
- The first step to prevent identity theft is awareness of how and when you use your personal information. By keeping close tabs on your personal information, you can reduce your chances of becoming an identity theft victim.
- Memorize your Social Security number and passwords. Don’t record your password on papers you carry with you.
- Do not use your date of birth as your password.
- Shred pre-approved credit applications and other financial documents before discarding them.
- Order credit reports every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies and thoroughly review them for accuracy.
- Never give personal or financial information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
- Do not carry your Social Security card or birth certificate with you.
- Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Check your monthly credit card and bank statements for unusual activity.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The BPD would like to remind residents to be cognizant of dangers related to carbon monoxide. Whether in a car or at home, the consequences can be deadly. As such, community members should be aware of the following safety tips.
What is carbon monoxide (CO)?
Often referred to as the silent killer, CO is a gas that you cannot see, taste or smell. It is created when fossil fuels such as kerosene, gasoline, natural gas, propane, methane or wood do not burn properly.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
CO poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or cars left running in garages.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea and drowsiness. Exposure to undetected high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal.
What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
Immediately move to a fresh air location, such as outdoors or by an open window or door, and make sure everyone inside is accounted for. Then, call 9-1-1. Remain at the fresh air location until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.
- Make sure that all fuel-burning appliances – including dryers, furnaces, fireplaces, and stoves – and venting equipment are unclogged of any debris and vented to the outside.
- Before using a fireplace, open the damper for proper ventilation.
- Avoid using an oven or stovetop to heat your home, as they emit CO gas.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice or other debris. The CO gas might kill people and pets inside.
- When shoveling out your vehicle, remove any snow or ice that might be blocking the exhaust pipe.
Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine inside, even if the garage doors are open. Remove a vehicle that you are trying to warm up from the garage immediately after starting it.
Only use barbecue grills outdoors and away from any building openings; never use them inside. Some grills produce CO gas.
Use portable generators outside and away from doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.
How to Stay Safe When Riding with Uber
- First, know what you’re getting. There are several levels of Uber drivers— the cheapest, UberX, is made of everyday citizens with a car and a driver’s license, while UberBlack, the company’s original service, consists of certified chauffeurs who have been licensed by the city, and is slightly more expensive.
- UberX drivers use their own vehicles to provide rides. They are required to be at least 21 or 23 years old, depending on the city, have their own insurance, and a mid-size or full-size 4-door vehicle in excellent condition (according to Uber’s website).
- When you book a ride, the app will send a confirmation text to riders with a photo of their driver, the license plate number of their Uber, and a description of the vehicle, so you know who to look for. When you see the vehicle, check the plate and the car’s make and model. You should also ask your driver their name, to be sure it matches the name you received in your confirmation text.
- When you book a ride using the Uber app, and you receive a text confirmation that the driver is on his way, you are then able input your destination into the app and share that with anyone via text message. Friends are then able to watch your ride on a map in real-time, using the Uber app.
- Riders should never get into an Uber car they didn’t order. Nor should they get into the Uber if any of the information they received in the confirmation text does not match up.
Remember, if you have an emergency, or there is a crime in progress, dial 9-1-1 immediately.
Prevent Motor Vehicle Break-Ins
- DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR WHERE OTHERS CAN SEE THEM. Valuable items, such as your laptop, iPod, etc. should never be left in the front or back seat of your vehicle. Always take your valuables with you, or move them into the trunk.
- Lock your doors and windows. Even if your window is only slightly open, it makes your car an easier target for thieves. A thief will insert a wire into a slightly open window to pop up the door lock.
- Replace your standard door lock buttons with tapered ones. Tapered door lock buttons make it more difficult for a thief to hook a wire or device onto the door lock button to pop it open.
- Invest in an anti-theft device. When you buy a new or used car, checking to see if it has an anti-theft device is as important as checking the engine. If there isn’t one, you should have one installed.
- If you observe any unusual activity or observe a car theft or a break-in, call 911.
Security For The Home
- Use sturdy doors.
- Solid wooden doors or doors reinforced with steel offer much more protection than hollow core wooden doors.
- Use safe locks. Adding quality deadbolt locks is a great idea because they can’t be ‘popped’ the way spring-latch locks can.
- Don ‘t buzz people into the building without knowing who they are.
- Thieves use many disguises and some- pose as someone that they are not.
- Strangers should be questioned as to their business in a building.
- This can be done in a polite way and is essential.
- Lock your windows.
- When you are not at home, always lock your first floor windows.
- In a single family home or a multi-dwelling building, the outer hallway door should be locked. If a thief has access to the inner hallway, he now has a cover from the public’s eye and extra time to break through the front door without being noticed.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbor. Consider having a neighbor or friend watch your home when you’re on vacation.
Shopping & Pocketbook Safety
- Wherever you are, stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
- Communicate that you are calm, confident and know where you are going.
- Stand tall, walk purposefully and make quick eye contact with people around you.
- Park in well-lighted areas and busy streets. Avoid dark doorways, alleys and areas hidden by trees and shrubbery.
- Have your keys in hand prior to exiting the store.
- Don’t overload yourself with packages and don’t wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
- Avoid displaying large amounts of cash or other tempting targets such as jewelry and expensive clothes.
- Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the strap, and keep a firm grasp on it. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front trouser pocket.
- If you think someone is following you, walk toward an open store or restaurant and call the police.
Remember that criminals look for the easiest opportunities. BE ALERT, CAUTIOUS AND CONFIDENT!
Pocketbook and Purse
- Keep a good hold on your pocketbook and if possible, cross the strap across your chest (and not freely hanging at your side when walking).
- When walking always keep physical contact with the pocketbook (Ex. Resting your hand or arm on the side of it). This will help with pickpockets.
- Make sure your pocketbook is completely fastened at all times. If possible carry your wallet, cash, credit cards, and small high value items in a front pocket of your clothes.
- If you place your pocketbook in a shopping cart, run the strap through the metal bar to secure it, (So someone cannot walk off with it. Also make sure the pocketbook is completely fastened shut). Also keep your wallet and money in your hand or front pocket of clothing.
- When seated at a table or counter-top, do not hang your pocketbook/bag on your seat-back. The safest place is either on your lap or at your feet (not to the side where belongings can be removed without your knowledge)
- When using the restroom, do not place your pocketbook on the floor (Do to the open space at the bottom of stalls, a suspect can just reach in and grab it.)
- If you leave your purse in your car while you shop, secure it in the trunk, or out of sight, where it will not be visible to people walking past.
How To Avoid Having Your Purse Stolen
- The theft of purses is almost always a crime of opportunity. Your chances of this happening to you can be greatly reduced with the careful consideration of the following prevention tips:
- When in a restaurant, if you choose to your purse under your chair then put the leg of your chair through your purse strap, your purse will then be a considerably less accessible target
- Do not put your purse down on the ground and/or leave it unattended
- If you must carry a purse, carry only the items that you need and never large amounts of cash
- Always be cognizant of your surroundings and walk with confidence and purpose
- Walk in well lit areas and avoid walking close to areas which would allow a thief to hide in an entrance way or behind a parked car
- Carry your purse close to your person, preferably in front, don’t wrap your purse strap too tightly around your wrist or shoulder, you’re likely to get hurt if a thief were to grab it forcefully
- If a thief approaches you, remember that it is best to just let it go. It is not worth being injured by resisting.
What To Do Immediately When Your Personal Information Has Been Stolen
- Notify the Credit Bureau right away: Equifax, Transunion, Experian.
- Alert the Credit Bureau that your personal information has been stolen
- Contact your bank and cancel not only checkbook, but your bank account
- Notify your credit card companies to cancel your card
The Boston Police Department would like to remind our partners in the retail business community to take certain measures to avoid being victimized.
- Review your security systems. Remember that the number and placement of cameras can prevent crime.
- Make sure that your cameras and sensors are working.
- Maintain adequate lighting.
- Place expensive merchandise away from the main entrance.
- Keep valuables in a safe and locked place
- Ensure that you have a sufficient number of employees to cover the retail areas of your business if you do not employee security staff.
- Assign an employee toward the front of your store in order to deter a thief from running into and out of the store with stolen merchandise.
- Ask customers to alert your staff to suspicious activity.
- Call 9-1-1 immediately in the event of a robbery or break-in, or if you observe someone acting suspiciously or who you recognize from prior incidents.
- Inform your fellow merchants of suspicious or unlawful activity to enhance awareness of repeat offenders.
We understand that some of these suggestions might conflict with your marketing needs. We would be happy to visit your business and provide you with an assessment that balances those needs with ones pertaining to security. Contact the Community Service Office of your nearest BPD precinct for more information.
Robbery Prevention for Convenience Store Owners & Operators
Security and Safety are important elements in the convenience store industry. Providing fast and convenient service, in a safe and friendly environment, is the goal of all owners and operators. Most stores have never been robbed. By following good procedures and practices chances of being robbed are even less.One of the best security practices available is to have policies and procedures in place.
- Employees should be given a copy of store policies and procedures, and receive training
- Follow good procedures and practices
Opening And Closing The Store
- Two people should open the store
- One person check the building for anything suspicious, including suspicious people, while the other opens the store. Remain alert at all times
- Once inside, lock all doors until you are ready to open for business
- When closing, check all areas of the store for anyone remaining inside
- Lock all the doors and don’t let anyone in once the store is closed
- Employees should leave together
- Keep cash drawer closed at all times
- Keep small amounts of cash in the register at all times
- Don’t open it unnecessarily, such as to make change.
- Do not count money in an open area
- Always cash out your drawer
- Make bank deposits at various times
- Do not use a bag with a bank logo
- If possible have another person go with you, do not make any stops in between
- All store operators need to know the location of the alarm and how to arm/disarm them
- Name and phone number of the alarm company readily available
- Be sure to use the panic alarm as directedby management
- Store owners should invest in a good quality camera system—learn how to operate and maintain the unit
- Routinely check to ensure cameras are focused on the cash register
- Keep the recorder separate in a secure location
- Keep the store well-lit: inside and out
- Check lights frequently and develop a maintenance schedule to keep them working properly
- Be sure to adjust the timer as needed to accommodate for daylight hours
- Keep the cash area clear to eliminate counter clutter
- Remove displays on counter that may hide a robber from outside observers
- Keep the windows clear from displays and signs
- Signs and Displays should be below three feet and above six feet
- The interior of the store should also be kept open with Isles FREE of displays and signs
- Employees should remain alert and observant at ALL TIMES
- Watch for suspicious activity, people vehicles or fights on the premises
- If something looks out of the ordinary—Call the Boston Police: 9-1-1
What To Do To Reduce Your Chance Of Being Injured During A Robbery
- Threat of violence during a robbery is real
- A suspect is going to be very nervous, so, don’t do anything unexpected that might cause the suspect to over react
- Remain calm
- Do as the robber requests
- Do not resist
- Do not attempt to use a weapon
- Do not lie to the robber—tell him you don’t know how to do something, if you know how to do it, etc.
- Don’t stare at the robber
- Stay in the store and lock the door once the robber leaves
- Be a good witness
- Make notes of the key characteristics of the robber:
- Build: Heavy, Medium, Muscular, Thin
- Short or Tall
- Hair length and color
- Facial hair
- What kind of weapon did he use
- Was there a getaway vehicle
- Direction of flight of the suspect
After A Robbery
- Stay inside the store and lock the doors
- Call the police immediately (FIRST)
- Assist customers that were in the store during the robbery
- Ask everyone to stay calm until the police arrive
- Have them think about what they saw
- Do your best to preserve the crime scene
- Do not touch or move anything that the suspect handled
- While waiting for the police to arrive, record everything you can remember about the incident
- Practice and follow your store’s emergency procedures, you increase your chance of survival
- Remember: Stay calm, don’t resist, cooperate fully, don’t lie, and don’t stare
- Have a plan, review it often, and know what to do
REMEMBER: THE MORE INFORMATION YOU PROVIDE TO THE POLICE, THE BETTER EQUIPPED THE POLICE WILL BE IN APPREHENDING AND PROSECUTING THE SUSPECT.
Driving In Snowy or Icy Conditions
- In uncertain and unsafe road conditions, slow and cautious driving is the best prescription for safe driving.
- Remain aware of your surroundings and other vehicles to allow yourself ample time and space to respond in case of any sudden incidents on the road.
- When merging onto traffic, drive slowly and exercise ample caution.
- Avoid using cruise control and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers.
- Brake early and slowly. Avoid slamming on the brakes whenever possible.
- If your car has anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If it does not have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal.
- Remember that the faster you go, the longer it will take you to stop your vehicle. If you need to accelerate, do so slowly to avoid slipping and sliding.
- Recommended apparel includes thermal underwear, undershirts, tracksuits, sweaters, snowsuits, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves.
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- Wear mittens over gloves – layering works for your hands as well.
- Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Be sure that your outer layer is tightly woven and windproof.
People and Pets
- Restrict infants’ outdoor exposure when the temperature is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dress children warmly and in bright colors.
- Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.
- Check on elderly family and neighbors to make sure that they have adequate heat and nutritious food.
- Pets suffer in the cold just like humans, yet they have little means to protect themselves. Keep pets safe by keeping them indoors.
Spending Time Outdoors
- Avoid the outdoors in cold weather.
- If you need to stay outside for work, take frequent breaks in warm areas.
- Avoid getting wet; moisture can prompt the onset of hypothermia.
- Since dehydration occurs more quickly in weather that is cold and dry, keep yourself well hydrated and drink non-caffeinated fluids.
- Cover exposed skin and watch for frostbite. In extreme cold, frostbite can occur in less than one minute. Symptoms include numbness and white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek help immediately.
- Property owners are reminded to shovel snow from sidewalks and any handicapped ramps that abut their homes and businesses.
- Shovel out fire hydrants, catch basins, and pedestrian ramps close to your home.
- Do not throw snow back into the street. “Throwbacks” force the City to remove snow from the same street twice.
In normal weather, the body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. Extreme heat and high humidity, however, slows down evaporation, forcing the body to work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, potentially leading to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Avoid strenuous activity on hot days.
- Drink plenty of water. Even if you do not feel thirsty, stay hydrated.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature.
- Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
- Too much sun is harmful. Use sunscreen with a high SPF rating when outdoors.
- Cool off at one of the City’s many pools or water spray stations.
- Go indoors to beat the heat, such as air-conditioned community centers, schools, libraries, or theaters.
- If your home does not have air conditioning, try to stay on your lowest, coolest floor.
- Use electric fans to cool you down, even if they do not cool the air.
- Cover windows that receive morning/afternoon sun with drapes, shades, or awnings. Outdoor awnings can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors to make sure that they are safe.
- Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
- Do not leave pets outside for extended periods, and give them plenty of water to drink.
If you believe you or someone you’re with is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 9-1-1. For non-emergency questions about the City’s heat-related services, please call the Mayor’s 24-Hour Hotline at 617-635-4500.