Being Safe Around Town

General Tips

  • Know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, and restaurants, or stores that are open late.
  • Send the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
  • Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.
  • Wherever you are - on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, waiting for a bus - stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.

On Foot - Day or Night

  • Carry a purse or bag close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket.
  • Don't flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Don't wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • If you have to work late, make sure there are others in the building, and ask someone - a colleague or security guard - to walk you to your car or transit stop.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If you're scared, yell for help.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.

On Wheels

  • Always roll up the windows and lock the car doors, even if you're coming right back. Check inside and out before getting in.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas. Be especially alert in lots and parking garages.
  • Don't pick up hitchhikers.
  • If you think someone is following you, don't head home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station, gas station, or other open business to get help.
  • Keep your car in good running condition. Make sure there's enough gas to get where you're going and back.

At the ATM

  • Don't use an access code that's the same as other words or numbers in your wallet.
  • If you get cash - put it away right away; don't stand at the ATM and count it.
  • If you lose your ATM card, notify your bank or credit union immediately.
  • If you must use an ATM after dark:
    • If the lights around the ATM aren't working, don't use it.
    • Park close to the ATM in a well lighted area; lock your car.
    • Take a companion if possible.
  • If you use a drive-up ATM, your vehicle's other doors should be locked with windows up.
  • Memorize your access code; don't write it down and/or carry it with you.
  • Never accept offers of assistance with the ATM from strangers; ask the bank for help.
  • Never lend your ATM card to anyone; treat it like cash or a credit card.
  • Never tell your access code to anyone, including bank employees, the police, etc.
  • Take all of your transaction receipts with you; don't throw them away near the ATM.
  • Try to use automated teller machines in the daytime. Have your card in hand and don't approach the machine if you're uneasy about people nearby. Always watch for suspicious persons or activity around an ATM. If you notice anything strange, leave and return some other time. Even if you have already started a transaction, cancel it and leave.
  • Use your body as a shield while you enter your access code, so no one can see you type it.

Shopping Tips

The holidays are a special time of the year, but they are also a time when busy people become careless, and individuals are especially vulnerable to theft and other crimes. Here are some tips to remember, not only during the holidays, but all year round.

Thefts from vehicles is one of the most common crimes committed in Joplin. The reason that this crime occurs is that it is a crime of opportunity and the victim unwittingly provides the opportunity.
Always report a theft to the police.
  • At home, be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes. Leave lights and a radio or television on so the house looks occupied. Do not put large displays of holiday gifts in view of your windows or doors.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible; and if the credit card receipt has carbons, ask for these too. Notify issuers immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
  • Be extra careful with purees and wallets. They may become targets for crime in crowded shopping areas, at bus stops, and on public transportation.
  • Be sure and lock your car, many opportunists simply look for unlocked cars.
  • Consider security film for automobile's windows.
  • Even though you are rushing and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you. If possible, park your car in an area of high pedestrian activity. Avoid remote areas.
  • If waiting for a ride from a friend or public transportation, do so in busy, well-lit places.
  • If you go away for the holidays, try to keep your home appearing lived in by getting an automatic timer for your lights. Have a neighbor watch your home and pick-up your newspapers and mail.
  • If you use lights on your tree, make sure that they are in good working order.
  • Immediately mark your new gifts with your driver's license number, and note all serial numbers, keeping records in a safe place.
  • Lock your car and close the windows, even if you are only gone for a few minutes.
    • A laptop computer will keep a drug user in a high state, at your expense.
    • Loose change is a meal for a street person; they will break your window for small change.
    • Your cell phone can be sold and reprogrammed and is a sought item of theft.
  • Lock your packages out-of-sight in the trunk. Place your valuables in the trunk before you get to your destination, not after, the thief may be watching.
  • Teach your children to go to the store clerk and ask for help if you become separated while shopping. They should never go to the parking lot or the car alone.