A Crime Prevention Checklist For Your Vacation

Burglars tend to target unoccupied homes. When you plan for an upcoming vacation, an effective burglary prevention strategy is to make it appear as though someone is home.

The following is a checklist of things that you can do to help with that.

  • Do not announce your trip on your voicemail, email, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
  • Do not leave keys under mats or in obvious locations.
  • Hold your mail at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/ (stop a day in advance and day following your return to ensure that there are no problems).
  • Arrange for a neighbor to put your garbage out on trash day.
  • Stop the delivery of newspapers.
  • Place indoor and outdoor lights on automatic timers.
  • Place television and radio on automatic timers so that they are audible from the exterior of your home.
  • Arrange for someone to park in your driveway or move your car every so often to make it appear that there is activity at your home.
  • Arrange for a neighbor to visit your house on occasion during your leave.
  • If there are visitors to your home while you are out, let neighbors know so that they don’t mistake a guest for a burglar. If you have a Neighborhood Watch, consider letting members know.
  • Make sure that packages are not sent while you are gone, have a neighbor pick them up, or arrange to sign for deliveries.
  • Maintain landscaping. This isn’t as problematic in winter months, but unkempt yards may indicate that you are on vacation.
  • Provide your cell phone or a phone number to neighbor(s) so that they can reach you if a problem arises.
  • Consider hiring a house sitter.
  • Consider storing expensive items such as jewelry in a safe deposit box.
  • Have neighbors remove circulars or advertisements placed on your door.
  • Have your neighbors watch out for your home and call the police for suspicious activity. They can contact the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333 (for Portland, OR residents) or call 9-1-1 if there appears to be a crime in progress.

Some tips for avoiding package theft

Mail theft continues to be a problem in Portland. More people have switched to online transactions, billing and bill payment and heeded the message to deposit outgoing mail in the post office collection box, which has reduced some of the opportunities for mail theft. As more consumers choose to shop online, the number of package deliveries increases. Correspondingly, we’re hearing more about thefts of delivered packages. Here are some ways to safeguard the delivery of your order:

If you believe that the delivery will arrive while you are at work, have the package delivered to your worksite or office. 

Have the package delivered to a trusted relative, friend or neighbor that you know will be home. 

Track the shipping and routing of the package. This is available and provided by most shippers and the US Postal Service. Contact the shipper, if there is a delay in receiving the package as scheduled.

Arrange for the packages to be signed for.

Ask online shippers if they offer a service where they will ship to a secure locker that is accessible 24 hours a day for no additional charge.

If must have your package delivered when you are not home, provide instructions about where deliveries should be left in a less visible location.

As a good neighbor, be alert and report all crime and suspicious activity. If you see a crime in progress, call 9-1-1. If you see suspicious activity in Portland, OR, call police non-emergency 503-823-3333. For more information and detailed descriptions about observing and/or reporting crime and suspicious activity, check out our crime prevention resources: http://www.portlandonline.com/oni/index.cfm?c=53530&a=320568.

Street Robbery Awareness (and Prevention, of course!)

Generally, over the last 20 years, robbery rates in Portland have been going down. According to a study recently released by Portland State University and the Portland Police Bureau, street robberies lead all other forms of this interpersonal crime by nearly half (49.4%), followed by commercial robbery (24%), home invasion (8.3%), convenience store (7.2%), bank (5.6%), other locations (3.8%) and gas station robbery (1.7%). The most common months for street robberies are August, September and October. Friday and Saturday nights are the most frequent days of the week that robberies occur.

Some street robbery victims increased their exposure by engaging in behaviors that may elevate one’s risk, such as walking alone at night (31.5%), being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (20.3%), being in a high risk location (11.4%) or an unfamiliar area (4.7%), being distracted by electronics (6.1%), displaying money (4.5%) or being ripped off during a drug deal (3.6%). Being robbed at a bank or ATM accounted for 2.5% of all robberies. When more than one of these behaviors are coupled together, the risk goes up. 

As one would expect, street robberies are forecasted to occur in the more densely populated corridors in town. The study showed that public transportation figured into robberies 19% of the time. 

A little more than half (54.3%) of all robbery victims suffered no injuries at all. About a third (30.3%) incurred minor injuries and 15.4% of the victims in this report experienced injuries major enough to require medical attention.   

The study showed that young (15-19 year old), either alone or in groups, suffered the highest rates of street robbery victimization. A frequently reported scenario involved a youth riding public transportation, playing with his electronics, seated near the door.

Researchers kindly came up with preventative measures as well. They recommend these remedies as most helpful:

Police proactively patrolling high risk areas

  • Reducing influence of risk factors and addressing related criminal activities (i.e. not engaging in drug deals, prostitution, gambling, etc.)
  • Increasing community awareness

 …and our favorite (since we are, after all, Crime Prevention people),  

  • Increasing personal awareness:  
  1. Youth waiting to use electronics until they are in more secure locations (although victims can be any age—see the photo above)
  2. Not displaying valuables

 We’d like to add a few old stand-bys of our own:  

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Carry yourself confidently.
  • Try not to be overburdened; keep your hands free, if possible.
  • Be prepared to take evasive action if you sense an immediate threat.  

Take your safety into your own hands—and maintain perspective. Robbery is at its lowest rate in 20 years. Let’s keep that trend going!

Different Ways to Report Graffiti in Portland

If you discover graffiti on your home, office or property, use one of the below options for online reporting. All of your submitted photos will go directly to the police database for use in future prosecutions. Fill in all of the blanks for accurate reporting. If you report online, you do not need to file a separate police report. If you find physical evidence at the scene of the crime like aerosol paint or gloves, call the non-emergency dispatch number and ask for an officer to respond to take a report. (503-823-3333) Please remember, if you catch a “tagger” actively damaging your property CALL 911! If you would like to file online, here are your options:

Android Smart Phone Reporting Application:

City of Portland PDX Reporter  http://www.portlandonline.com/bts/index.cfm?c=53613

iPhone Smart phone Reporting Application:

City of Portland PDX Reporter  http://www.portlandonline.com/bts/index.cfm?c=51917

Report Online:

City of Portland Graffiti Reporting Form: http://www.portlandonline.com/oni/index.cfm?c=46186&a=286366

More NNO 2012 pictures

Peninsula Park: Music

Peninsula Park: Sgt. Mark Friedman with community member

Peninsula Park: Petting Zoo

Peninsula Park: North Precinct Commander Leloff with Community Members

Piñata at Sequoia Square

Wauna Vista NW: 911-Snake!

Wauna Vista NW: Lt. Gorgone and David Hardesty

Wauna Vista NW Leader Mike Walker

Wauna Vista neighbors

Wauna Vista: Schmautz and Silverman

Wauna Vista: Yikes!

National Night Out 2012 Photo Gallery

With more than 150 parties across Portland, National Night Out 2012 was a huge success. Check out some of our photos below for a glimpse of the fun.

Floresta Soap Bubble Raffle Winner

Floresta Tattooed Trio 

McCoy Park Bouncy Castle

McCoy Park: Off Michael Schmerber-Mayor Sam Adams-Lt. Brian Ossenkop

McCoy Park: Vroom!

McCoy Park: Fountain

More to come!

Pictures from our National Night Out 2012 Kickoff Party

Our National Night Out 2012 Kick Off Party and Crime Prevention Volunteer Celebration was a huge success!

Check out some pictures of our Commissioner, our Chief, and the great volunteers and staff who work every day to improve safety and livability throughout Portland.Commissioner Fritz, Sam Freeman, Tammi Hawkins, and Chief Reese

Angela Wagnon, Home Forward and Cascade Management staff and Chief Reese

Officer Strobel and Cascade Management staff

Program Manager Stephanie Reynolds and Commissioner Amanda Fritz


Celeste Carey (Vroom!)

Stephanie Reynolds and outgoing Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Wells

Mark Wells, Karen Traughber, Commissioner Fritz, Keturah Pennington, Chief Reese

Lieutenant Steinbronn

Crime Prevention Award Winners To Be Announced At National Night Out Kickoff Party

National Night Out is celebrated across the United States, Canada, and military bases. The focus of the event is on building community, strengthening the police community relationship, and reducing crime and drug in neighborhoods by encouraging neighbors to get to know one another.

In Portland, there will be 158 parties happening between August 3rd and August 12th, with most happening on August 7th, which is National Night Out.  Portlanders can find a party in their area at www.portlandonline.com/oni/nno.

The Crime Prevention, Graffiti Abatement, and Liquor Licensing Programs will be giving away their annual awards at the July 31st National Night Out kickoff party. Seven awards will be given to some wonderful people who are active in the Portland community.  These include:
  • Jan Weston, who has reinvigorated Neighborhood Watch in his Southwest Portland neighborhood;
  • Tammi Hawkins, who got the Mid-County Foot Patrol up and running; 
  • Brett Kelver, who vigilantly documents and removes graffiti from the Springwater Corridor;
  • Wendy Rahm, who led an impressive advocacy effort for an Alcohol Impact Area through the Portland City Council process;
  • Mitch McKee, a City of Portland housing and nuisance inspector who is resolving tough cases of abandoned and foreclosed nuisance properties, one by one;
  • Natasha Morris and Tracy Alioth, property managers of St. Johns Woods, who worked with police officers to provide structure and motivation for positive behavior among children living at their complex; 
  • Karen Traughber, who has started both Neighborhood Watches and a very active Foot Patrol in West Hayden Island, recruiting and training dozens of her neighbors.

Come join us at 4747 E Burnside to celebrate these amazing award winners!

Burglary Prevention Tips

Most burglars do not target homes that they know are occupied. They do not want to be caught. That is why a significant number of residential burglaries happen during the day when residents are gone to work or school. Burglars look for signs of occupancy to determine if someone is home. They may even knock on a door to check.

One of the best strategies that you can use to prevent burglaries is to create an appearance of occupancy. Whether you are at work, school, the store, or on vacation, showing signs of occupancy can be a deterrent.

When you are out for a few hours or the work day, you can do the following:

  • Leave lights on in key locations that are observable from the street (if you can put them on timers, even better) 
  • Leave on a radio, television, or something audible so people standing outside of your door can hear 
  • Do not leave notes affixed to your door stating that you are gone and will be back at a certain time. 
  • Do not arrange for deliveries to your home if you are not there. This indicates that you are not home and makes it easy for someone walking by to steal your package.

If you are on vacation, use the following tips to safeguard against burglary:

  • Control who knows about your travel plans.
  • Don’t announce your vacation on Facebook, Twitter, your voicemail, or other social media-post the pictures and the details after you return
  • Hold your mail  
  • Stop the delivery of newspapers 
  • Place indoor and outdoor lights on automatic timers 
  • Place television and radio on automatic timers
  • Make sure that packages are not sent while you are gone or have a neighbor pick them up or arrange for them to be signed for
  • Maintain landscaping where necessary through a landscaping company or neighbor
  • Consider depositing expensive items such as jewelry in safe deposit box 
  • If you are able to do so, hire a house sitter after screening and checking references

Neighbors can help you while you are on vacation. A sign that you are gone is not having your trash set out by the curb.  Let trusted neighbors know that you will be gone and what help you need while you are out. Also let them know what to expect during your trip. For example if you plan to have a visitor or a house sitter at your house, let them know.

  • Provide your cell phone or phone number to a trusted neighbor so that they can reach while you are gone
  • Have neighbors remove circulars or advertisements placed on your door 
  • Arrange for a neighbor to put your garbage out on trash day 
  • Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to park in your driveway or move your car every so often to make it appear that someone is home 
  • Arrange for a neighbor to visit your house occasionally 

Have your neighbors watch out for your home and call the police if someone is there who shouldn’t be. Consider informing your Neighborhood Watch members about your plans. 

Since most burglars tend to target unoccupied homes, creating an appearance of occupancy can help lower your risk of becoming a target.

Tips for Safe Travel

Travel can be an exciting adventure. It can also be a safer journey with a little planning and foresight. Below are some ideas to think about before your visit. If you are traveling abroad, do your research.

It is also important to research if political conditions or other factors may make it an unsafe location to visit at this time. In addition, becoming aware of local customs and laws that differ from the U.S. may save you a lot of headaches in the long run. The US Department of State has a wealth of information on its website. It’s best to travel only to those countries that have a U.S. consular office so that there is an agency to assist in the event of an emergency.

Some tips for travelling abroad:

  • Make two sets of copies of your passport, itinerary, airline tickets, drivers license and credit cards-leave one set with family or friends, and bring the other one with you, storing them separately from the originals
  • While you are out of the hotel, store them in a secure safe
  • Carry a letter from a physician noting your prescriptions and medical condition
  • Check with the consular office to ensure that the medications you are taking are not illegal in that country
  • Familiarize yourself with the local customs and laws of the country you are visiting. 
  • If you arrested, don’t sign anything and contact the consular office.

General tips for all travel:

  • When out in public, be alert to your environment-a lot of scams happen by distracting the victim before pick pocketing or other crime occur
  • Be less of a target by limiting the valuables that you bring with you on the trip- this includes leaving unneeded credit cards, expensive jewelry, social security cards or other cards at home
  • While in public, do not bring an excessive amount of cash with you
  • Dress inconspicuously with minimal jewelry
  • Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport or hotel lobby
  • If you check baggage into hotel storage, ask for a receipt
  • Don’t leave valuables in your hotel room-use the hotel safe, and get a receipt for what you leave there
  • When you are in your room, lock the door, use the chain lock, and use your door peephole to identify people who knock at your door
  • Use a high quality traveler’s door lock or a wedge
  • If you are not expecting a visitor, you can contact the front desk to verify that the individuals at the door are hotel staff
  • Leave the Do Not Disturb sign on your door so that the rooms appears occupied when you leave
  • Carry your wallet in a pocket inside a jacket or a front pocket
  • Carry a purse close to the body, and make sure to place it in your lap at a restaurant, not over the back of your chair
  • Only use the services of reputable taxi companies

Use street smarts and plan ahead to make your vacation safer one.