While no list of crime prevention tips can guarantee your safety or remove the possibility that you will be a victim of a crime, the tips provided below can be effective in crime prevention. This information is provided to you based upon Police Department experience and has been shown to be effective in reducing criminal activity. Also, not every eventuality can be anticipated. No crime prevention measures should ever be taken that would contradict or interfere with fire safety laws or building codes.
If you have questions about the information presented on these pages, please contact Community Liaison Officer Nick Soley at 248-433-7724 or send an email.
Personal Safety & Crime Prevention Tips
Neighborhood Safety Tips
See Something Suspicious?
That Lived In Look
ATM Safety Tips
Credit Card/Debit Card Safety
Driveway Seal Coating
Gypsies and Gypsy Scams
Internet Safety for Teens
Neighborhood Crime Prevention
Personal Safety When You’re Out
Snow Removal Fraud
Talking to Your Kids about Safety
If you would like to know more about crime statistics in Bloomfield Township, call 248-433-7755 and ask for an Annual Report. Crime statistics can be determined for any quarter-square mile in Bloomfield Township. For specific information about any area, call the Community Liaison Officer at 248-433-7724.
Crime Prevention Links
The following links will direct you to crime prevention or homeland security related websites that may be of interest.
Security on Campus
National Crime Prevention Council
Rape Aggression Defense System
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
America’s Most Wanted
National Fraud Information Center
Fraud Prevention for Seniors
Prevent Phone Scams
Identity Theft Prevention
USPS Guide To Preventing Mail Fraud
ATM Safety Tips
- Protect your ATM card by keeping it in a safe place.
- Have someone go with you when you plan on using an ATM.
- Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you must write it down, DO NOT write it on the ATM card itself or on anything in your purse or wallet.
- When selecting a PIN, avoid obvious numbers (1234), your address, your birth date, phone number, etc.
- If you lose your card, notify your bank immediately.
- When possible, use a drive-up ATM, keeping car doors locked and unused windows rolled up.
- Before approaching the ATM, drive around the area looking for anything or anyone suspicious.
- Have your card ready for immediate use before you get to the ATM.
- Minimize the amount of time you spend at an ATM.
- Use ATMs in a public, well-illuminated area.
- Make sure no one else can see you entering your PIN.
- Don’t count your cash after receiving it from the machine.
- When using an indoor ATM that requires your card to open the door, don’t let anyone come in with you that you don’t know.
- When using a walk-up ATM, do not leave your car engine running, or leave any valuables in plain view inside the car.
- Do not leave your receipt behind – take it with you.
- If you see anything that makes you feel suspicious or uncomfortable, hit the ‘Cancel’ button, retrieve your card, and leave the area immediately. If time does not permit retrieval of the card, just hit the ‘Cancel’ button and then leave the area.
While burglary scenarios can follow a number of patterns, here is a common one of which you should be aware: A male driver takes one or more women to an affluent neighborhood looking for targets of opportunity, such as elderly homeowners working or gardening in the yard. The thief enters the home through an unlocked door out of view from the homeowner, and steals money and jewelry. If the homeowner confronts the thief in or around the home, she will pretend to be looking for a lost dog or cat. The theft may go undiscovered for days because the thieves generally leave no obvious sign of the theft.
Tips: Lock all doors in the home, including overhead garage door. Keep expensive jewelry in a place other than a jewelry box in plain view. Talk to neighbors who are usually home during the day to make sure they are aware of this type of problem. Report any suspicious activity to the police department immediately.
Beware of ‘contractors’ who come to your home or call you on the phone looking for work. Some will tell you they were just ‘passing by’ and noticed you needed a new roof, siding, or driveway (you fill in the blank). They may not be contractors, at all, not trained, not licensed, nor insured. These con artists will usually offer the work at a price far below what you’d expect to pay for it. And, more often than not, they will require you to pay in advance. The bottom line: you give them the money and never see them again.
Professional, legitimate contractors never need to go door-to-door to get work, and they almost never require any money in advance before starting the work. If they do, find another contractor.
Don’t sign any contract before reading it. Better yet, have your attorney look at it first. Call the contractor's insurance company and make sure his / her policy is in effect. Check with the Secretary of State to make sure the contractor is licensed. Ask the contractor for references.
If you need work done on your home and need to find a contractor, contact the larger home improvement stores for a list of companies that do work for them. Or, ask neighbors who have done work on their home.
Credit Card/Debit Card Safety
- Put your signature on the signature panel of the card as soon as you receive it.
- Protect your cards like you would your cash. Don’t leave them unattended anywhere, such as in a car, bar, or nightclub.
- Ensure that you get your card back after every purchase.
- If at all possible, do not let your card out of your sight.
- Always check sales vouchers including purchase amount when you sign them - keep copies of sales vouchers and ATM receipts.
- Never give your card number over the phone, unless you are dealing with a reputable company, or you have initiated the call yourself.
- Always check your billing statement, especially after a trip. Check the amounts of your purchases against your sales vouchers and receipts - specifically look for transactions that are not yours.
- Make a record of your credit and debit card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. Keep that list in a safe place.
- Be careful when giving out your credit or debit card number over the telephone. Ask for information in writing from the company making the offer.
- Be suspicious of anyone calling you to sell something.
- Do not volunteer any personal information when you use your credit or debit card, other than your ID documents that may be requested.
- Know who has access to your cards. If your credit or debit card is borrowed by a family member (spouse, child, parent), with or without your knowledge, you may be responsible for their purchase/cash withdrawal.
- After completing an ATM or debit transaction, remember to take your card and, if provided, your transaction receipt.
- When selecting a PIN, always avoid the obvious, like your name, telephone number, or date of birth, or any combination.
- When traveling, take only one credit / debit card.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
Driveway Seal Coating
A typical seal coating scam often occurs in the following manner: the suspect approaches the homeowner with a claim of having "left-over" coating material (usually in the bed of a pick-up truck), and contracts to seal the homeowner's driveway. Once the homeowner pays for the job, the suspect sprays a cheap oily material on the driveway and leaves.
Tips: Do not respond to door-to-door solicitors. If you need your driveway seal coated, you make the contact. Rely on friends and relatives for recommendations and referrals.
Gypsies and Gypsy Scams
For local law enforcement purposes, the word "gypsy" refers to people who travel in small groups across the country perpetrating crimes of petty theft, larceny, burglary, and fraud. Over the past several summers, residents of Bloomfield Township and other local communities have been victims of what have become known as "gypsy scams."
Gypsy scams are incidents that occur in daylight hours, in which the suspect will, literally, walk right into someone’s home for the purpose of stealing jewelry or money. Very often, the homeowner is either in or near the home. If these individuals are caught, they give some kind of excuse as to why they are in the home or on the property. So far, these individuals have not been violent and usually run from the residence as soon as they are discovered.
The best way to keep these individuals from victimizing you is to simply keep your home locked, even when you are working in the yard. Remember, anytime you are outside your home, you cannot possibly see every door on your home that a would-be thief would use.
As with any suspicious circumstance, call the Bloomfield Township Police Department immediately. The non-emergency number is 248-433-7755. And, of course, 911 is still the number to call for emergencies.
Identity fraud, also called identity theft, has become more common due to the transmission of personal information over the Internet. To help protect yourself from identity fraud, consider these tips:
- Never throw out papers or other documents with critical personal information (i.e., name, Social Security Number, date of birth, etc.) Shred these documents, instead, using a crosscutting shredder. This type of shredder doesn’t just cut the paper into strips, but cuts it into strips and then cuts it again at a 90-degree angle.
- Don’t give your Social Security Number to anyone other than a government institution or a financial institution that you have selected and have contacted. Even some legitimate charities have made a practice of obtaining social security numbers from their supporters. You are not required to give them this number.
- Beware of anyone calling you stating that they are bank examiners or government officials and requesting your social security number. No legitimate official would ever ask you for this information.
- If you do banking online, make sure you have firewall software installed on your computer. This will make it much more difficult for a hacker to get into your computer.
- Obtain a credit report at least annually. Look for any accounts you didn’t open.
Internet Safety for Teens
While the internet has opened an entire new world of information and ideas for all of us, it has also become a hunting ground for child predators. Of all the areas on the Internet, Social Media sites are the most popular places for predators to meet children. Here are some important safety tips to discuss with your children about internet safety.
- DO NOT give ANY personal information about yourself, your family, or where you live. Even if it takes an extended period of time and multiple conversations, a child predator will pry for personal information. Eventually, if they get enough personal information, they can use it. For instance, they may show up at your house, school, or job.
- While on social media, there is no way for you to know whom you’re chatting with. That “friend” may actually be a disguised profile by a predator.
- Social Media is NOT a place to discuss personal or family problems. A child predator will attempt to sympathize with your situation and explain how much they “understand” your problems. They may even suggest you consider running away. These are attempts to lure a child away from the safety of their home and family. If you are experiencing personal or family troubles, confide in a trusted friend, or contact professional assistance. Good sources are: Covenant House (800) 999-9999, or National Runaway Safeline (800) RUNAWAY.
- If someone sends you sexually explicit photographs, DO NOT send them to other individuals, by doing so you may actually be committing a crime. Immediately notify your parents and your service provider.
For additional information you can also check the following sites:
United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
Internet safety for the whole family
Neighborhood Crime Prevention
One of the most important things you can do to ensure the safety of your neighborhood is to initiate a Citizens' Watch Program. This program is designed to deny criminals the opportunity to commit criminal offenses. Knowledge that concerned citizens will report any suspicious activity to the police department can act as a deterrent, forcing the criminal to go elsewhere. The Police Department's Investigations Division trains and supervises Citizens' Watch members. For more information about the Citizens' Watch Program or about starting one in your subdivision, call the Community Relations officer at 248-433-7724.
In addition to establishing a Citizens’ Watch Program, here are some other neighborhood safety tips:
- Keep your car locked in the garage at night.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car.
- Remove the garage door opener from your car if you don’t park it in the garage at night.
- Avoid leaving your car parked on the street overnight. If you can’t put it in the garage, park in your driveway.
- Install motion-sensing floodlights around your house.
- Install exterior lighting near all exterior doors.
- Keep the pedestrian door locked that leads from the garage to the interior of your house. Use a quality deadbolt to secure this door.
- Install a quality alarm system in your home; USE IT!
- Trim back bushes and trees from your house; don’t give anyone a place to hide while they are trying to break into your home.
- Purchase a small safe to keep cash and jewelry secured. Choose one that is too heavy for someone to pick up and carry.
- Have a home security routine at night (lock ALL doors, set alarm, check windows, garage overhead door, etc.).
- Stay alert to what is happening in your neighborhood; be a nosey neighbor.
- Install a 180° peephole in your front door.
- When on vacation, have your incoming phone calls forwarded to another number, instead of having an answering machine pick up every call.
- Be careful about who knows when you are going on vacation. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your house and file a Vacation Notification Form with the Police Department.
- NEVER throw out any papers that have your name, date of birth, social security number, bank numbers, etc.
- Keep your house locked EVEN WHEN JUST WORKING IN THE YARD! While you’re in the backyard, thieves could be going in the front door.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers while you’re on vacation.
- Install deadbolts in entry doors.
- Purchase and use random light timers in your house when on vacation.
- Don’t put your name or address on any set of keys you own.
- Keep important papers locked up (even credit card bills, financial papers, etc). Sometimes, thieves break into a house just to get this information so they can establish bank or credit accounts in the homeowner’s name.
- NEVER give personal information over the phone to anyone who calls you. Be suspicious of anyone claiming to be a bank examiner or investigator requesting your information. Crooks use many guises.
- Don’t indicate to anyone over the phone that you are alone.
- Pull shades and blinds at night, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms.
- If you see anything of a suspicious nature, CALL THE POLICE. Be a good nosey neighbor. YOU know your neighborhood. You are NEVER disturbing or bothering us by requesting that we check a suspicious circumstance. That’s what we do!
Personal Safety When You’re Out
When you are out and about town look alert, be alert, show that YOU are in control. Be aware of your surroundings – know who’s out there and what’s going on. Don’t let alcohol or other drugs fog your judgment. Be assertive – don’t let anyone violate your space. Trust your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right, there may be a reason. Don’t be embarrassed to make a scene if you feel threatened. The best defense is to stay out of dangerous situations.
- Avoid being in or traveling through areas where you can be trapped or cut off from other people such as elevators, stairwells, alleys, parking structures, or basements.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-illuminated areas. If possible, ask a friend or family member to go accompany you.
- If you think you are being followed while walking, get to where there are other people, then call the police when you are safe.
- Have your key ready before you reach your car, office, home, etc.
- Don’t hitchhike!
- Drive on well-traveled streets. Lock doors and windows.
- Don’t pick up hitchhikers.
- Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank.
- Have a cell phone, cash, and flashlight with you or in your car.
- In case of car trouble, if possible, pull into a well-illuminated, public place. Raise the hood, get back into your car (locking all doors), placing a “Help, Call Police” banner in rear window. “Help, Call Police” banners are available from most auto supply stores.
- If a pedestrian or motorist approaches you while your car is disabled, stay in your car (doors locked). If you must speak to them, lower your window just enough to allow conversation. Ask them to call the police.
- If you think you are being followed while driving, drive to your local police or sheriff department, pull in front of the station, then honk the horn until assistance arrives.
- Park in well-illuminated areas and lock the car, even if you’ll only be gone a few minutes.
- When approaching your car in a parking lot, be aware that someone may be hiding near it, waiting for you.
- When pulling into a parking lot, drive around the area, looking for suspicious people or activities.
- Park close to the store where you are going, preferably somewhere that is well-illuminated and well-traveled by other cars and people.
- Keep a spare key for your car in your purse or wallet.
- Have your car key in your hand, ready to use, when going out to your car.
- Go shopping with someone else if you must shop at night, or if you anticipate leaving the store after dark.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car! Leaving a purse, briefcase, cell phone, or other valuables in your car is begging someone to take them. If you must leave valuables in the car, put them in the trunk, instead.
- Lock your car and set the alarm, if so installed.
Phishing is a term used for emails that are sent to you in an attempt to get you to surrender private information for the purposes of identity theft. Beware of e-mails you receive purportedly from your (or another) bank or credit card company requesting your name, passwords, Social Security Number, or other personal information. Often, these e-mails warn that if you do not give this information, that your account may be closed or suspended. In reality, these are cons to get sensitive personal information from you so that credit cards or bank loans can be obtained in your name, or to steal money from your bank accounts. These e-mails will even have an actual logo and other related ads to make them look authentic. When in doubt, DON'T! Simply delete the e-mail without entering ANY information.
Here is an actual e-mail that was being sent out to thousands of unsuspecting people:
Shopping is something we all do several times a week, and perhaps even daily. Keep the following tips in mind as you move through your shopping activities:
- Have someone go with you to an ATM.
- Minimize the amount of time you spend at an ATM.
- Avoid using an ATM in poorly illuminated areas or if there are suspicious people loitering around it.
- Stay alert and aware to who or what is around you while using the ATM.
- If anything makes you feel suspicious or uncomfortable, hit the ‘cancel’ button on the ATM, retrieve your ATM card, and leave the area immediately.
- Keep car parked in well-lit, well-traveled area.
- Keep purchases locked in the trunk of your car.
- Do not leave purse, cell phone, or any other valuables in plain view inside the car.
- Park as close to the entrance of the store as possible.
- Shop with someone else, especially at night.
- Avoid darkened hallways and other backroom areas of a store or mall, especially at closing time.
- Avoid using bathrooms in secluded areas of the store or mall.
- Always accompany your child to the bathroom.
- Never use a video arcade or toy store as a babysitter – more than 100,000 children are abducted every year. Consider arranging for a babysitter at home if your children tend to wander away from you in stores.
- Keep children close by and stay aware of their location.
- When carrying a purse, keep it close to your side. When walking with a friend, keep the purse on the side between you and your friend.
- When going out to your car, have your car key in hand and ready. Keep a spare key on your person in case you lock your keys in the car while shopping.
- When going out to your car, be aware of who or what is around you. If you think you are being followed or feel threatened by a situation, get to where there are people.
- Minimize the amount of cash you carry. Take one credit card or debit card, instead of large amounts of cash.
- At home, keep photocopies of the front and back of your credit cards in case they are stolen. The back of the card often has an 800 number to call in case of theft or loss.
- Keep receipts on your person, and not in shopping bags.
- Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet.
- Never leave your purse unattended, even for a second.
Snow Removal Fraud
Beware of snow removal companies trying to get you to sign a contract for snow removal services, and requiring that you pay in advance. Very often this is a scam to take your money, and you will never see this company again.
The best advertising is word of mouth. If you need snow removal services, ask your neighbors who plows their snow. Then find out the following information:
- Is this company reliable?
- Can you pay as you go throughout the season?
- How long have your neighbors used this company?
There are many reputable snow removal companies in existence. Just be careful before giving anyone your money!
Talk to Your Kids About Safety
Parents have plenty of resources to turn to these days about how to talk to kids about personal safety. Many schools also offer safety instruction as part of their curriculum. In addition to the tips below, the following websites might offer assistance when talking to your kids about safety issues: Talking With Kids, Talking to Your Child About Strangers, or visit the National Safety Council website.
When talking to your kids about safety, keep the following in mind:
- Remember, kids between the ages of 11 and17 are equally at risk for being victims of crime as are younger children. As you give your children more freedom with age, so must they understand important safety rules.
- Speak to your children about their safety in a calm, non-threatening manner. Fear need not be used to get the point across. If they sense you are comfortable discussing this difficult subject matter, they will be too.
- Don’t confuse your children with the concept of ‘strangers’. Children do not necessarily have the same understanding of this word as an adult may. The danger to children is much greater from someone you know than from a stranger.
- Practice what you discuss. Give your children “what if” scenarios to see how they understand what you teach them.
- Teach your kids that it is more important to get out of a threatening situation than it is to be polite. It is okay for them to tell what happened to them and important for them to know that they won’t be blamed for it.
What Should Parents Teach Their Kids?
- Teach your children to always check with you or another trusted adult FIRST before they go anywhere, accept anything, or get into a car with anyone. This applies to older children as well.
- Children should not go out alone and should always take a friend with them when they go places or play outside.
- It’s okay to say “NO!” if someone tries to touch them or treats them in a way that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused. Help them understand how to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
- Children need to know that they can tell you or a trusted adult if they get scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
- Children need to know that there will always be someone to help them and that they have the right to be safe.
Mainstream telemarketing, while annoying, is legal marketing under most circumstances. However, there are many who are nothing more than scam artists, trying different strategies to part you from your money.
Some of these fraudulent activities include: calling from a fictitious company, selling a product or a service at a ‘bargain price’, often for a ‘limited time only’. This product or service is usually priced far below the actual market value, trying to make you fearful of losing a great deal. The end result is that you give a credit card number over the phone or mail a check, and get nothing in return.
Some fraudulent telemarketing scams involve calling you, saying that they are from an actual charity or company that you have heard of. This is done to make you feel more comfortable about giving your credit card information or sending a check. The end result is that you send money to someone, but it isn’t to the company or charity you thought it was.
While the varieties of telemarketing scams are legion, they can all have a couple of things in common: 1) they sell something that is too good to be true, or 2) if calling from a ‘charity’, they will attempt to play heavily on your emotions. Regardless of the type of scam, they will all have one thing in common: they will try to take your money from you! Simple, isn’t it?
Thieves posing as utility workers will try to gain admittance to your home by feigning a problem with a utility, and asking to come inside to "check the problem". Once inside, he may ask you to help him by asking you to perform a task in another part of the home. While you are distracted, he, or an accomplice, steals cash and/or jewelry.
Tips: ALWAYS ask for identification from utility workers who need to enter your home, particularly if you are not aware of any problem. If identification is produced but you are not satisfied with it do not let him or her inside. Ask who made the "service" request, and ask for the telephone number of the utility for verification. If unsure, make no admittance. Contact the police department immediately.