Personal safety tips for walking

Tips from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office:

  • Have a plan, be suspicious, be aware of your surroundings, walk with confidence.
  • Walk with a friend whenever possible.
  • Avoid dark streets, high shrubbery, short cuts, and dark doorways. Try to walk facing oncoming traffic
  • Maintain a secure grip on handbags or purses, keep the flap towards your body. If someone tries to grab the
  • purse let him/her have it.
  • When you think you are being followed, you can: Turn and walk directly towards the individual and cross the street. Look the individual in the eye. Go to an open business, such as an all-night market, gas station, Police or Fire station, hospital emergency room, hotel lobby, etc.
  • Keep change with you in case you need to make a call. You can dial 911 on a pay phone without depositing change.
  • Be wary of newly acquired acquaintances. Don’t reveal personal information to new found friends. Wherever you are stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
  • Communicate the message that you’re calm, confident, and know where you are going. Stand tall, walk purposefully, and make quick eye contact with people around you.
  • If you walk at night constantly vary your routes.
  • If you work late at night, arrange to leave with a co-worker or accompanied by a security officer. Make sure your car is parked as close to the entrance as possible or move it to a safe spot in the late afternoon when people are leaving.
  • Keep your car locked and check the back seat and floor before getting in.
  • 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 or expensive clothing.
  • Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Find out what stores and restaurants are open late and know the locations of police and fire stations. If you are in an unfamiliar neighborhood, take a few minutes to look around for stores, telephones, and street lights.
  • Have your house or car keys in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.
  • Make your neighborhood and workplace safe by reporting broken street lights, clean up parks and vacant lots and lobbying local government for better lighting in public places.
  • If you see a crime being committed, call the police immediately and stay with the victim until help arrives. Be supportive and offer to accompany the victim to the hospital or police station.
Safety tips for women
Purse snatch:

  • DO NOT carry a bag that makes you a target. A bag that dangles from the shoulder can be easily yanked off your shoulder by someone coming up from behind.
  • DO NOT carry your bag in such a manner that you can’t let it go if you have to. Many women have been injured because their own bags acted as handcuffs as a purse snatcher yanked it away.
  • DO be aware of your surroundings and carry your bag close to your body, tucked in the bend of your elbow.
  • DO minimize the amount of money and credit cards that you carry with you on a daily basis. Divide your money between pockets and bags.
  • IF you are the victim of a purse snatch do not fight to hold onto your bag, especially if there is a weapon involved.

Coming home late at night:

  • Avoid shortcuts that are not well travelled or well lit.
  • Know what reputable stores are open in your neighborhood late at night. If you suspect that you are being followed stay away from lonely quiet blocks and head for the store you know to be open.
  • When walking to your car or on your way home, keep your keys in your hand until you are safely inside for added protection.
  • If someone drops you off at home by auto, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside.
  • If a motorist bothers you while you are walking turn around and walk in the opposite direction of the car. Do this as often as necessary and he should get discouraged.

If you are driving:

  • Keep windows rolled up, except for a small. ventilation space and keep your doors locked.
  • If someone attempts to force you off the road, don’t panic….. blow your horn constantly to attract attention. If you are forced over, as soon as you stop put your car in reverse and back away….. keep blowing the horn and moving the car as much as possible.
  • If you suspect that someone is following you make a few turns down active streets if possible. If the auto you suspect is following you makes the same turns as you then head for the nearest police station, fire house or open store. Don’t try to make it to your own quiet residential area.
  • Try to park your car in a well lighted area, this is not only good from the standpoint of dicouraging a personal attack on you but also for reducing the chance of auto theft. Look around before you get out of your car.
  • Before getting into your car, look inside first to make sure no one is hiding in the back seat. When leaving your car, make sure it is locked.

At home you should:

  • Have your key ready before you get to the front door.
  • Make sure your entrance area is well lighted.
  • If you live in an apartment don’t be polite and hold the lobby door open for a stranger who has been waiting.
  • List only your last name and first initial in your mailbox.
  • Don’t buzz someone inside unless you know them.
  • If a stranger wants to use your phone for any kind of call from business to emergency …….. keep him out and you make the call for them! Any problems or in doubt? Call the police!
  • If you arrive home and find your door open DO NOT GO INSIDE call the police from a pay phone or neighbor’s house and ask them to meet you.
  • Don’t get on the elevator with a stranger if your own good judgment warns you against it — need an excuse to avoid embarrassment say something like; “Oh I forgot my mail.”

If you are the victim of a rape:

  • Report crime immediately to Police. Call 911.
  • Do not wash or douche.
  • Have a medical exam and internal gynecological exam as soon as possible accompanied by a police officer preferably.
  • Inform doctor of exact acts committed upon you and have him note any medical evidence of them.
  • Semen smears must be taken by the doctor.
  • Doctor should note any bruises or injuries (bleeding, lacerations, etc.) external or internal.
  • Have the doctor test for venereal diseases (and pregnancy later if relevant).
  • Inform the police of all details of attack, however intimate, and of anything unusual you may have noted about the attacker. remember, what he said and how he said it may lead to his arrest.
  • Show police any external bruises or injuries however minor, resulting from the attack. Also show them to a friend or relative who might be available as a corroborative witness at the trial.
  • Give the undergarments to the police (for semen analysis).
  • Give any torn or stained clothing to the police.
  • When calm, make note of events of attack, unusual details, etc.
Night life safety tips
  • Do not accept drinks from anyone if you did not see them prepared.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended for any period of time.
  • Always inform a family member or friend of your whereabouts.
  • When entering a bar or club, always know where emergency exits are located in case of a fire or other emergencies.
  • Be familiar with your surroundings (street names, landmarks, etc.); this specific information will be needed to locate you.
  • Do not drink and drive or accept a ride from anyone who has been drinking.
  • Designate a driver who will not drink.
  • Do not leave your bag unattended.
  • Arrange a buddy system with a friend and always watch after each other.
  • Never leave a bar or club with a stranger.
  • Carry a cell phone. When possible, call 911 if you are being harassed.
  • Always carry enough money for a taxi.
Rental scams & other internet fraud prevention tips

Scams are a reality of shopping online and offline.

Always be wary of giving personal information, financial information, or payments of any kind to people you don’t know personally.

How to avoid being victimized:

•    Long-distance inquiries.
Take extra care in long-distance situations, especially from users in foreign countries. There are a number of scam attempts that involve individuals in foreign countries who say they are interested in purchasing or renting out a home.

•    Requests that you send a check or money order, or wire funds.
Most scams eventually involve such a request, and there are many variations. A scammer may have convincing reasons why they need to deal remotely. They may wire overpayment of funds to you and request that you wire back a refund. They may ask you to use a false online “escrow service”. Do not wire funds to anyone you haven’t met personally. Do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.

•    Requests for personal and/or financial information.
With identity theft on the rise, it is a good general rule to provide your personal/financial information sparingly, and only to trusted sources.

•    Typos, grammatical errors and inflated stories.
Emails that are filled with spelling and grammatical errors are usually a sign of fraud. Also, the sender might claim the importance of themselves or the person they are representing (“I work with the United nations development program”) and could also weave an involved story about family issues.

•    An agent or landlord should never ask for personal information or a phone verification code prior to seeing a property.
Any requests for bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or being asked to provide them with a code sent to your cell phone via text or call are all signs of a potential scam. Also, research the average rental rates in that area and be suspicious if the rate is significantly lower.

Report Scams and Fraud

•    Hoboken Police Department 201-420-2100.
•    Federal Trade Commission:  via its toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or the FTC online complaint form
•    Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center

Auto theft prevention tips

Auto break-ins usually have one thing in common: there’s something left in the car worth stealing. Most larcenies from cars are “crimes of opportunity” that could be prevented by taking some preventative steps:

  • Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle: You’d be surprised how often this happens, but individuals leave valuable items in plain sight all the time. If you leave items in your vehicle and they’re visible, the chances your vehicle will get broken into, increase greatly.
  • Never leave the keys to your vehicle in the ignition while you exit the vehicle. A thief will take your vehicle in seconds.
  • If you are driving alone, ensure your vehicle doors are locked. This will prevent anyone from entering the passenger side of your vehicle while idling at a traffic control device.
  • Place items out of sight BEFORE reaching your destination: Someone may be watching when you put your valuables under a seat or in the trunk and the moment you’re gone, a thief could break into your car. So place those items in a safe place before you get to the park, beach, baseball game, etc. Valuable items that thieves target are GPS units, MP3 players, credit cards, money, packages and so forth. If you can’t take the items with you, secure them in a safe place in your vehicle, like a locked glove compartment or your trunk.
  • Avoid leaving packages or shopping bags out in the open: Lock them into your trunk, if you have to leave the vehicle unattended. Never open a trunk, fill it full of valuables, close it, and then just walk away.
  • Lock ALL of your vehicle’s doors: This is true even if you plan on only being gone for “just a second”. Remember, it only takes seconds to steal items from your car. It’s not uncommon, for thieves to walk down a row of parked vehicles, looking for unlocked doors. Also, make sure car windows aren’t left open.
  • Park in busy, well lit areas: Pick a parking spot where there is a lot of activity. Auto thieves prefer breaking into cars in isolated areas.
  • Don’t leave a trace: Don’t leave any sign that there might be valuables “out of sight” in your vehicle. For example: the suction cup on your dashboard, might tell thieves, that you have a GPS system in your vehicle. Leave nothing in plain view. Very few auto break-ins are “random”. The thieves usually see something out in the open or hints of possible hidden valuables.
  • Alarms or anti-theft devices work: Thieves are usually looking for the “easiest” target. If your car has an alarm, it could act as a deterrent. But don’t make this common mistake: Just because you have an alarm, doesn’t mean thieves won’t break-in, IF you leave valuable items in plain sight.
  • Don’t leave spare keys in your vehicle: An experienced thief knows all the hiding places. Store spare keys elsewhere, possibly your wallet or purse.
  • If, in the event you are the victim of a carjacking, do not attempt to prevent the taking of your vehicle. Individuals who carjack a vehicle usually work in tandem with another who operates a second vehicle. This vehicle is used to block the path of anyone who attempts to follow them. Try to get as much of a physical description of the actor/s as possible, a description of the second vehicle as well as a licence plate number.
Call the police immediately at 201-420-2100, 201-420-2130 or 911 if your the victim of a carjacking.
Bike theft prevention tips
  • Always lock your bike, especially at home (even in the garage, apartment building or college dorm).
  • Always lock your bike’s frame and wheels with a high-quality, modern U-lock (that has a flat or disc key). Lightweight cable or chain locks do not provide adequate security in most areas.
  • For the greatest theft deterrence, use two locks such as a U-lock and a locking cable. The longer it takes a thief to get through your bike security, the less likely your bike will be stolen.
  • Lock to a fixed, immovable object like a permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock to items that can be easily cut, broken or removed. Be careful that your bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.
  • Lock in a visible and well-lit area.
  • Lock in a location where there are other bikes. The chances are better that there will be a bike with a less secure lock than yours. Thieves will usually go for the easiest target.
  • When using a U-lock, position your bike frame and wheels so that you fill or take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack your lock.
  • Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. Don’t position the lock close to the ground. This makes it more difficult for a thief to attack it.
  • Always remove or secure your quick-release components and detachable accessories, including lights and bags, with a secondary cable lock.
  • Don’t lock your bike to itself (the front wheel locked to frame). It can be easily lifted and carried away.
  • Don’t lock in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target your bike.
  • Don’t lock to anything posted illegal. Check with area law enforcement agencies for local bike parking regulations.
  • Always check your lock before leaving your bike to be sure you have secured it properly.
  • Visit the following sites for additional tips and resources: bicyclinggearpatrol, bikespike
GPS theft prevention tips

One of the “hottest” items that thieves are targeting both locally and nationally, is the GPS system in your vehicle. Here are some tips to prevent GPS theft:

  • Removing your GPS unit from the dashboard or windshield alone, without removing its cradle or mounting doesn’t guarantee that a thief still won’t break into your car. Today’s GPS thieves often are willing to gamble that an empty GPS cradle suggests that its owner has taken the action of removing the GPS unit and storing it underneath one of the vehicle’s seats.
  • Keep your windshields and dashes clean. Even taking the extra precaution of removing the GPS device’s cradle might still not be enough to stop a break-in into your car. The suction cups used to secure the GPS unit’s cradle to the car’s dashboard or windshield can leave a ring of film on the glass. The Police Department recommends that you use micro fiber cloths or moist towelettes to wipe away any ring of film from the GPS cradle suction cup.
  • Hide or remove the power cord or any other accessories.
  • Some GPS units now have a password to use. This makes the GPS useless to the thief and they may pawn the device, allowing for the possibility that the police may recover the device.
Residential burglary prevention tips
Burglary is a crime of opportunity. If you and your neighbors work to prevent the opportunity, you and your home will be that much safer. Outlined below are proactive measures that residents can take to possibly prevent burglaries.

  • Know your neighbors and look out for each other’s homes. This is the key to neighborhood security. If you know your neighbors and typical schedule, it’s much more likely that you’ll be aware when something is out of the ordinary. Talk to your neighbors when leaving on vacation; tell them how long you expect to be away.
  • Install an alarm system with a monitoring station (i.e. A.D.T.), if a burglar sees a decal stating that there is an alarm system, they will most likely seek another victim. Some alarm systems have the capability that allows you to remotely control lighting and electronics from a smart-phone or laptop computer, you can also view live images of your residence.
  • If going on vacation, arrange for your mail to be held by the post office and have a neighbor pick up any newspaper deliveries or flyers.
  • Train children so they know not to answer the door when your gone and never give information out over the phone to callers they don’t know. (This may vary depending on the age of the child.)
  • Lock all doors and windows when you leave your residence, even if you are leaving for a short errand.
  • Ensure that doors accessible to the exterior are equipped with deadbolts and reinforced strike plates. The dead bolt makes it difficult to “pick” and the strike plate makes it difficult to just kick the door in.
  • Upgrade doors to a solid core that can withstand excessive force.
  • Add wide-angle viewers to doors to accommodate all occupants including children or handicapped family members.
  • Windows and doors should be visible from the street. High shrubbery and plantings can provide thieves with a place to hide.
  • Don’t leave valuables where they are visible from doors and windows.
  • Don’t leave notes with details of your absence.
  • Photograph valuables and engrave, if possible, with your driver’s license number for insurance purposes. (Place a copy of your inventory and related photos in a safe deposit box in case of fire.) Don’t use your social security number to identify you valuables.
  • Remove all identifiers from your keys. If you lose them, there’s no reason to think they’ll fall into honest hands. If you believe someone has stolen your keys, have the locks changed.
  • Install electronic tracking type software (i.e. Absolute Software) onto your laptop.
  • Keep the garage door closed and locked. When exiting your garage, ensure that it closes before leaving. Thieves often wait for residents to exit the garage and will then enter before the garage door closes.
  • Install motion sensor-activated exterior lights on entry points. Not only will it discourage burglars, it also makes it easier for you to get into your home at night. Criminals do not like well lit targets.
  • Install timers to switch lights, televisions, or music on and off, especially if you’re planning to be gone.
  • Don’t announce on social media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) that you are away from your residence or that you plan on going away.
  • If you are a female living alone, have a male friend/relative leave any outgoing messages on your land-line answering service. Also, only leave your first initial on your mailbox or doorbell.
  • Make sure that you have renter’s insurance, in the unfortunate event that you are victimized, at least your valuables will be covered.
  • Air conditioners that are installed in ground floor or basement windows, should be secured in a manner where they cannot be pushed in or pulled out.
  • If you arrive to your residence and believe someone may be inside, DO NOT confront the burglar, retreat to a safe area and contact the Hoboken Police Department at 201-420-2100. In the event that your are the victim of a burglary, do not touch an surfaces or items that the burglar may have touched and immediately contact the police.

There is nothing that can replace vigilant, caring, and concerned neighbors and friends.

Holiday season theft prevention tips
Thefts and break-ins often increase during the holidays, since thieves know that many homes are empty and stocked with high-priced gifts. Thieves also target the large numbers of packages left on doorsteps or in lobbies and other common areas. Here are some tips to keep in mind during the holiday season regarding package deliveries:

  • Choose a shipping option that requires you to sign for delivery.
  • Check on the package’s delivery status online so you can try to be home when it arrives.
  • Leave a note asking the delivery service to leave the package with a neighbor.
  • Have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive it, like your office or a friend’s home.
  • Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up.
  • File a theft report immediately if you think your package was stolen, and contact your credit card company to find out if it offers a purchase-protection service that might reimburse you for stolen purchases.

Burglars also know that many households have new, and oftentimes expensive, items in their homes following the December holidays – especially items such as new computers and peripherals, stereo components, televisions, cameras and other electronic equipment. In too many cases, residents make it easy for burglars to figure out which homes to target by putting boxes that identify their new gifts in plain view with their other garbage. Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items in the alley or other garbage pick-up locations for several days at a time. Instead, break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in garbage bags and place them inside a trash can. (In many cases, especially with computer equipment, you might consider keeping the boxes for safe storage, shipping or moving in the future.) Think about keeping broken-down boxes inside – in a garage, for example – until the evening before your regular garbage pick-up. Some burglars actually look inside garbage cans for evidence of holiday gifts. In addition, please follow the residential burglary prevention tips listed above.