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How to avoid being a crime victim

Neil Hansen, SPD’s North Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator, talked to last Friday’s Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce meeting, to give local businesses some tips on how to prevent crime. A recent wave of business burglaries in our neighborhood has many people on edge.
First  off, he explained the reason behind one thing that frustrates a lot of people: crime reports that don’t list a specific business name or address, but instead say something like “the 100 block of N. 70th St.” Hansen explained that crime reports are supposed to be anonymous, hence the generic address. Check out the SPD blotter for short press releases on crimes throughout the city (you can click North Precinct in the right column).
The most important crime prevention tool is simply watching out for each other, Hansen said. Know the businesses around you (or your neighbors in residential areas) and have their phone numbers handy. Stroll by windows of businesses you know are staffed by a single person, or pop in on your lunch break, so potential robbers don’t have a chance to rob a person working alone.
Hansen said he will conduct a security check for any business that requests it. He’ll recommend options for better locks, security systems, security cameras, front doors, window locks, etc.
Burglary Prevention Tips:
– Empty your cash register every night and leave it wide open so thieves can see from the window that there’s nothing to steal.
– Install a good, sturdy door with heavy duty locks.
– Make your business sound occupied. Leave a radio on when you leave. If a thief hears voices, they may get scared off.
– Keep lights on all night.
– Install a security camera, and put a note on your door or in your window telling the world you have one.
– Understand that a fireproof safe is not necessarily burglar proof.
Tips for staying safe during business hours:
– Have a neighboring business on speed dial. If a customer in your store makes you uncomfortable, call your neighbor and ask them to stop by immediately. Sometimes just having another person in the store will keep a potential criminal from committing a crime. It also alerts other businesses to potential problems.
– Or, if a customer makes you uncomfortable, leave and go to a neighboring store and call 911.
“The main thing to remember as far as prevention goes, is to listen to your gut,” Hansen said. If you get a feeling that something’s not right or a person is acting strangely, call 911 right away. “Most people go for their second reaction – ‘Oh, I’m over-reacting.’ But my advice is to go with your first reaction.”
Hansen also said that businesses should make a crime report no matter how small the incident, because it creates a paper trail, and may help prosecute someone who has committed a number of crimes.
If you are victimized during business hours, lock the door after the robber leaves, call 911 and don’t touch anything.
“You can do everything right and still get victimized,” Hansen said. “One burglar can really cause chaos.”
Check out all the police tips on business robbery and burglary prevention here. The Police Department’s non-emergency number is 206-625-5011. That number is for any incident that you believe should be reported, but which doesn’t require an officer on scene immediately. If you see a business that appears to have been burglarized, call 911.