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Crime Prevention and Safety Tips

ATM Safety

  • Use an ATM in a well-lit, well-travelled location.
  • Prepare any transaction paperwork before you get to the ATM.
  • Be aware of who is around. If something doesn’t feel right, cancel the transaction. Do it later or somewhere else.
  • If you get cash, put it away immediately. Do not count it at the ATM.
  • At night, try to have a companion with you.
  • When using a drive-up ATM, make sure your doors and other windows are locked.
  • When leaving an ATM make sure you are not being followed. If in a car, drive to a police station or well-lighted open business. Flash your light, sound your horn to get attention.
  • ATM Fraud: Call the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060 and file a local police report

Car Safety

  • Keep your doors locked
  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • If you think you are being followed, drive to a police station or well-lighted public place, open business.
  • If car breaks down, open the hood. Stay in your car. If someone stops to help tell them to call for help.
  • Don’t stop to help motorists by the side of the road. Call for help for them.

Craigslist Safety Tips

The most common Craigslist scams are:

  • Listings that don’t require a credit check for homes, cars, or other used vehicles (usually, this is a way to get your personal information, or put you in crippling debt)
  • Requesting a wire transfer to either steal your money without giving you anything, or get your bank information
  • Posting an item for sale that they don’t have, and including generic photos of the product in question
  • Spamming Craigslist with dozens (or hundreds) of postings for the same item
  • Requesting to use PayPal, then sending you a link to sign up (it’s a phishing scam, so don’t click that link!)
  • Someone who wants to buy from you, or wants you to buy from them sight unseen (they’re stealing or robbing your identity, plain and simple).

Safety Tips

  • Trust your instincts.
  • Don't go alone.
  • Insist on meeting at a public place such as a safety swap spot.
  • Do not meet in a secluded area.
  • Do not invite strangers into your home, and do not go to theirs.
  • Be cautious when buying/selling high value items.
  • Perform the transaction during daylight hours.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.
  • Tell a friend or family member about your intentions, where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Take your cell phone with you.

Swap Spots for your safety

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has created swap spot-designated public places where folks can exchange items that they’ve bought and sold online. See safety tips and swap spots.

Identity Theft Prevention

  • Consider using a Post Office box or locked mailbox.
  • Shred documents with sensitive information.
  • Shred all unsolicited credit card, loan offers.
  • Destroy all credit card and ATM receipts.
  • Shred expired credit, debit and identification cards.
  • Never give your PIN number or account information over the phone even if they say they work for that institution.
  • Go to your financial institution in person to conduct large transactions or transactions that are not typical for your daily financial life.
  • Do not use personally identifiable information for PINS, passwords, security questions.
  • Never give personal information over the phone.
  • Use encryption software when possible when transferring personal information over the internet.
  • Mail stolen or tampered with? Contact your local post office to report.

Internet and Online Safety

Online Shopping

  • Do not give your personal information unless you are absolutely sure it is safe.
  • Avoid giving your full name, address, phone number, etc. unless it is a secure site.
  • For forum or discussion sites that require a name to register, try to use a nickname or alias.
  • Never shop using an unsecured network such as those in coffee shops and other retail locations.
  • Secure sites have addresses that start with “https”. “

Online safety for parents

  • Keep the computer in a common area of your home so you can keep an eye out for safety.
  • Make an agreement about computer use, such as:
    • Sites they are allowed to visit
    • Amount of time they can be online
    • Basic safety rules
  • Consider requiring that smartphones not be allowed in bedrooms
  • Agree on consequences for breaking the agreement

Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention

  • Roll up windows and lock all doors.
  • Lock all doors and windows even when parked in your own garage.
  • Keep your garage door closed.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Hide all valuables out of sight. If you can see them so can a thief.
  • Keep a record of your VIN (vehicle identification number).
  • For vehicles equipped with anti-theft technology, use it!

Package Theft Prevention

  • Doorstep delivery is often a crime of opportunity. Thieves can be following a delivery truck or be someone who sees a package delivered.
  • Before you ship, choose the right service for your needs.
  • Ship the package to a location where you know someone will be available to receive it. Consider selecting the “signature required” option.
  • Send any FedEx package directly to a FedEx Office location near you or choose from several delivery options. You can have it held for pickup at one of the stations. You can go to  to find the nearest location or call 1-800-GO-FEDEX.  FedEx has a number of stations at retail stores for package pickup with identification and signature required
  • UPS has stores that a package can be routed to and has several options for delivery choices. Their information is or 1-800-PICK-UPS.
  • The United States Postal Service has a number of ways to track and secure safe delivery for your packages. You have options on how you want the package delivered as well as tracking and insuring the package. Many of their tips are similar to UPS and FedEx. More info:
  • Amazon also has lock boxes at various locations. Check your shipping options before you click "buy".

If you see something suspicious such as a person picking up a package off your neighbor’s front step or a car following a delivery van,  call 911 immediately.

If you are a victim of this crime,  contact 311 or . If you have suspect information, call 911. Filing an online police report may also be an option.

Filing  mail theft and lost package claims with your shipper:

Personal Property Theft Prevention

  • Dining out: Keep your purse on your lap or between your feet with the handle around the leg of your chair or foot.
  • Do not leave valuable unattended at your table.
  • When shopping do not leave your purse or wallet unattended. If you must put your purse in a shopping cart, anchor it to the cart with the child safety seat belt. Keep the purse closed.
  • Never carry PINs or passwords in your purse or wallet.
  • Keep a list of all credit, debit and ID cards and number along with their customer service numbers in a safe place in case you need to close accounts, report thefts.

Public Transportation Safety

  • Be aware and alert.
  • Avoid isolated transit stops.
  • Have your bus pass or money ready before you board.
  • During off hours, ride as near to the operator as possible.
  • If someone bothers you, change seats. Try to inform the driver.
  • Keep belongings in front of you, close to your body.
  • Be alert to pickpockets.

Residential Safety

  • Check your house for weak access points.
  • Always lock your doors and windows. Use deadbolt locks on doors.
  • Install window guards that prevent windows from being raised more than a few inches.
  • Buy and use variable light timers inside your home.
  • Install and use automatic outside lighting.
  • Keep sidewalks and steps clear of ice and snow.
  • Use a locking mailbox.
  • Never prop open the door to an apartment building and report residents who do.
  • Document serial numbers of electronics.
  • Take pictures of all valuables and store in a safe place,

Robbery/Theft Prevention

  • Carry only what you need. Do not take large amounts of cash or unnecessary personal items with you.
  • Be extra cautious about your surroundings. Trust your instincts. Be aware of strangers loitering in your area. I
  • Call 911 to report suspicious activity.
  • Don’t get distracted!  Cell phones, iPhones and other electronics can be a distraction to you and could draw the attention of someone who wants to take them from you.
  • Be on the lookout. Call 9-1-1 for any suspicious activity such as strangers walking in yards or between houses, the sound of glass breaking or loud banging, and unfamiliar trucks or vans lingering in your alley. Talk to your neighbors about what you’ve seen and ask them to be alert to suspicious activity.
  • If you are confronted, stay calm and cooperate. Your life is worth more than your money or phone!
  • If you are a victim of robbery, immediately call 911. Try to report as much suspect information as you can.

Street Safety

Street Safety Tips:

  • Be aware at all times!  Keep your eyes open, up and off your phone!
  • Know where you are going and the safest way to get there. Stay in well-travelled and lit areas. Avoid alleys.
  • Have a plan. Know where you can go; how to contact police in an emergency.
  • Walk with a purpose. Keep your head up and your eyes open to what is around you.
  • Carry a whistle or other noise maker.
  • Vary your walking, jogging or biking routes. Avoid isolated areas. Try to go with a friend.
  • Do not wear headphones. You won’t notice or hear a threat until it’s too late.
  • Keep purses and packages tucked securely between your arms and body.
  • Keep purses and packages tightly closed.
  • Carry only what you need.   Don’t carry a lot of cash or extra credit or debit cards.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of jewelry. Turn rings so stones face the palm of your hand.
  • Carry emergency contact information.

Last updated Apr 30, 2019



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