New York City Police Department

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Crime Prevention Tips - January 2013

Auto Theft Prevention

Taking precautionary measures can minimize your chances of becoming the victim of auto theft. In the United States a vehicle is stolen an average of every 21 minutes. Not only does auto theft costs the victim time and money, but it cost society as it drives insurance premiums up. Stolen vehicles are also commonly used to commit other crimes. Car thefts can occur anytime -so be alert and aware and follow these simple tips

  • Never leave your car running unattended, even to dash into a store - this occurs frequently in winter months as drivers leave the engine running to keep the car warm - all it takes is a split second and your car is gone!
  • Never leave any keys in the car, the ignition, or in hide-a-key boxes -  even inside a locked garage
  • Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is parked in front of your home
  • Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk out of sight - Remove GPS mounts, and the tell-tale ring that is often left by suction cups on the dashboard
  • Always park in high-traffic, well-lighted areas, whenever possible
  • Investigate the purchase of a vehicle theft tracking/security system, especially if you own one of the frequently stolen model vehicles such as a Honda Civic
  • Never leave personal identification documents, such as the vehicle ownership title, or credit cards in your vehicle
  • Do not store your home address in your GPS system, but rather use a nearby intersection of business address.
  • If you must leave your key with a valet, attendant, or mechanic leave only the ignition key and not any house keys. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable firm, you can check with the Department of Consumer Affairs for more information
  • In high theft areas the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be etched on windows, doors, fenders and trunk lid. This makes it difficult for a thief to market your stolen car parts.
  • Copy your license plate and vehicle information (VIN) numbers on a card and keep them with you. If your vehicle is stolen, the police will need this information to take a report
  • If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police immediately!  

At Home Alone: A Parent's Guide

Your child comes home from school at 3:00, but you don't get home from work until 6:00. They are at home alone for those few hours every weekday. What do they do until you arrive home?


Most likely, he or she gets a snack or talks on the phone. Maybe he or she watches some TV or starts some homework assignments. But since you're not there, you worry. Just like the majority of American parents who work and have to leave their children on their own after school every day, you are anxious about your child's safety. But by following the safeguards listed below, you can help ease some of this worry by taking basic precautionary measures when you're not around. 


Remember - always know the three "W's": Where your kids are, What they're doing, and Who they're with!



  • Have your child check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.  
  • Ensure they know how to call 9-1-1 and how to give directions to your home, in case of emergency 
  • Make sure they know your family's emergency plan - if you do not have a plan visit for more information on creating one
  • Teach them how to properly use the door and window locks, and the alarm system if you have one - particularly the "panic" feature of your alarm system   
  • To never let anyone into your home without asking your permission - no repairmen, delivery persons etc - NO ONE - even if they appear to be in a company uniform.  
  • To never let a person at the door or on the phone know that they're alone. Teach them to say "Mom or Dad can't come to the phone (or door) right now, may I take a message?"  
  • How to escape in case of fire - do you call 911 first then exit, or exit and call 911? Make sure they know all available exits and what a smoke (or CO) alarm sounds like and what to do if it sounds.

Often times, if you can come home (or call) unexpectedly to check on your child - perhaps even have a trusted friend/neighbor check in - you can be sure that they are following your rules and staying as safe as possible while you are at work. 

ATM "Skimming" Tips

ATM "Skimming" is an illegal activity that involves the installation of a device, usually undetectable by ATM users, that secretly records bank account data when the us er inserts an ATM card into the machine.  Criminals can then encode the stolen data onto a blank card and use it to steal money from the customer's bank account.




The criminal places the skimmer, which is usually made from plastic or plaster and looks very much like the original card reader, directly over the ATM  card reader undetectable to the customer.  As the customers insert their ATM cards into the false skimmer, their bank account information on the cards magnetic strip is "skimmed" or stolen and usually stored on some electronic device.   A hidden camera is used in conjunction with the skimming device in order to record the customer's Personal Identification Number.  In lieu of a hidden camera,  a keypad overlay, placed directly over the installed keypad,  is sometimes used to record the user punching in their PIN. The skimmer device is placed over the ATM card reader, undetectable to the customer. 



  • Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it.  Be suspicious if you see anything loose crooked or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive tape/residue.  The original card reader is usually concave in shape (curving inward), while the skimmer is more convex (curving outward).   
  • When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.   
  • If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals installing skimmers)   
  • Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas - they are a popular target of skimmers   
  • If your card isn't returned after the transaction or after hitting "cancel", immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.   
  • Be aware of "Money Trapping", where the criminal attaches a device to the cash dispenser "trapping" the customer's money and retrieves it after the customer leaves the ATM area.