Be Aware

Burglary Prevention

Take time and follow some of the below suggestions provided by Modesto Police Burglary Detectives to protect your property:

    1. Lock your cars doors even when leaving for a short period of time.
    2. If possible do not keep valuables in your car.
    3. Keep valuables (even small items) out of sight or locked in a trunk. Make sure there is no one watching you.
    4. Install an alarm system
    5. Park in areas that are well lit with high visibility.
    6. Use your garage, cars parked outside are a target.
    7. Remove your garage remote from your car and take it in if you park outside.

Burglars take time to look into cars, and under car seats for concealed purses, laptops, or other valuable before breaking in to vehicles. Some of the more common targeted areas are parking lots along commercial businesses, strip malls, restaurants, schools, health clubs, residential streets, and apartment parking lot complexes.

Shoppers and citizens are being asked to be aware of their surroundings before leaving their cars. Look for suspicious vehicles, people on foot, or subjects on bicycles cruising parking lots. Many criminals are looking into vehicles, wandering or looking around without apparent reason, wearing gloves, carrying backpacks, and using lookouts.

Protecting Children

Protect society's most valued asset, your children. Child abuse is often committed by someone known to the child. If you develop a positive relationship with your children, they will not feel afraid to discuss their problems with you. Know their interests and friends. Set good examples for them to follow. Help them to develop a strong value and a positive self-image. Help them to enjoy their youth while being aware of their environment and how they can protect themselves. Discuss these issues with them:

  • Recognizing suspicious and inappropriate behavior among strangers and family members.
  • How no one should touch the areas of their body that a bathing suit would cover.
  • To remember vehicle license numbers and the description of the persons acting in a suspicious way.
  • To let you know where they are at all times.
  • To go straight to a cashier or an information booth if they become separated from you in a public area.
  • If they are home alone they should not open the door or when answering the phone, should not say that they are alone in the house.
  • To never enter a strange person's vehicle and never hitchhike.
  • To tell you if they are ever threatened.
  • What 9-1-1 is and when to use it.
  • To stay safe on the Internet.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids

The Internet is a lot of fun to surf and is a great learning tool for homework help or just general information, right? Right, but there is a bad side to the Internet and, just like at school or at the park, you need to think about your personal safety when you’re surfing.

Okay, so say you’re on AOL and chatting to one of your friends and someone you don’t know starts to talk to you. They seem pretty nice, so you keep chatting. They ask you about school and your mom, your dad, if you have any brothers or sisters. They seem really interested in you. So, after a while, since this person is so nice, you start talking to them all the time. Pretty soon, they tell you they wish they could hang out with you. Maybe they could meet you at the mall or the skateboard park or your house.

What should you do? Just like at the park you shouldn’t talk to strangers. You really don’t know this person. Maybe they are nice but maybe they are not. You should talk to an adult you trust about this person and, with that trusted adult, decide how to deal with the situation. Never make plans to meet someone you’re met on the Internet without discussing the idea with your mom, dad or your guardian.

The scary truth is that there are people on the Internet that pretend they are someone they are not. In some situations those people become your friends on-line and then they try to find or meet you. Children and adults have been hurt or gone missing because they went to meet an “Internet friend”. Use your common sense. If you don’t feel comfortable, immediately tell an adult, sign off, and go surf somewhere else.

Never give out any personal information, like your name, phone number or address to anyone on the Internet that you AND your parents don’t know. It can be dangerous. Just like at the park, you have to play safe.

There are some really great sites on the net but you need to be careful when you check them out. A couple of safe places to look at for good sites are:

Be safe! And have fun. Get mom or dad to sit and surf with you. You could probably teach them a thing or two!

Personal Safety

While anyone of any age can be victimized, women, seniors and persons with disabilities are targeted more frequently.These guidelines will help you and your family to reduce crime and maintain a more secure and safer environment.

  • Use only your first initial(s) and your last name on mailboxes, in directories, etc. if you live alone.
  • Never open your door to a stranger without proper identification.
  • Arrange a system so that someone you trust has a key to your home and is aware of your whereabouts at all times, especially if you live alone.
  • Don't display large amounts of money in public or keep it in your home.
  • Don't leave keys hidden in obvious places (i.e. under mat, under planter, over door frame, etc.)
  • Walk on well-lit streets near the curb and away from alleys, particularly if you must walk alone at night.
  • When in public, always be aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of persons loitering or acting suspiciously.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, go to the nearest well-lit public place or populated area. Yell if necessary to attract attention.
  • Never hitchhike. Once trapped inside a vehicle, it is difficult to escape.
  • If you are being sexually or physically abused at your home, workplace or social setting, help is available. Report the offense.

Home Safety

You can help to increase the safety of your home and neighborhood by joining Neighborhood Watch. Through proper attention to home security and protection, you can reduce and discourage unlawful residence entries and enjoy the comfort of your home. Follow these simple and effective measures:

  • Clearly mark all of your electronics and related items with your California Drivers License. An engraver is available through your local Crime Prevention Officer at no charge.
  • Install dead bolt locks on all exterior doors and self-tapping screws in the upper track of patio doors and windows.
  • Ensure that entry locks are changed or re-keyed, if you are a new tenant or owner.
  • Secure all basement and ground level windows and patio doors.
  • Have your local Crime Prevention Officer come to your home for a courtesy safety inspection.
  • Make your home fire-safe, eliminate all fire hazards such as papers or cleaners stored near your furnace. Install and test smoke alarms and plan an escape route.
  • Insure your home and contents. Store valuables in a safety deposit box.
  • Give you home a "lived-in" look when you’re gone by using automatic timers.
  • Have the mail, newspapers, etc., picked up and the awns cut when you are away from home.
  • Trim all shrubs, trees and plant life away from your home so that windows are in plain view.
  • Check references of all individuals before employing anyone in your home.

Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicles have become an important part of our lifestyle. Personal safety and protection must be a consideration every time you enter the vehicle. These suggestions will help to keep you protected and keep your vehicle safer:

  • Ensure that your vehicle is well-maintained, mechanically fit and road-worthy.
  • Always check in the back seat of your vehicle before entering, especially at night, especially when alone.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running.
  • Park in well-lit areas at night.
  • Don't ever leave personal identification or valuables in the vehicle.
  • Consider installing an anti-theft device and a locking gas cap.
  • Always lock all doors and windows after exiting.
  • Keep your garage locked. Lock your vehicle even though it’s inside the garage.
  • Don't put your name or address on your vehicle keys.
  • Keep your vehicle and house keys on separate key rings or on a detachable key ring. When turning your vehicle in for service, separate your house keys.
  • In case of vehicle trouble, turn on your flashers, lock yourself in your vehicle and display a "Call Police" sign. Wait in your car for the police. Do not open the door or window for a “friendly” passerby.

Phone Busters

Do these sound familiar?

  • Congratulations! You are guaranteed to win a prize, but you have to buy our products to get your prize.
  • Congratulations! You have won your choice of several wonderful prizes! All we need is your bank account number or Visa number to confirm who you are and we will send them off.
  • Congratulations! You are already the winner of something ridiculously fabulous but you have to send us money up front for shipping and handling.
  • Someone claiming to be a lawyer/customs officer/police officer has just told you that you are entitled to a large cash settlement, but you have to send money for taxes in advance.
  • A caller just told you that they will recover the amount of money that was already lost to another telemarketing company.
  • A scratch and win card has just arrived. You scratch the prize area and see that you have won one of the prizes mentioned, but you have to call a "900" number in order to claim your prize.
  • An official document has just arrived advising you that you won some gift, but you will have to call a certain number in order to claim your prize.
  • You have just seen a number in a publication that tells you to call a number to obtain a loan. They have approved you for the loan but are requesting an upfront fee (first and last months payment/application or insurance fees, etc., in order to process your request).

All of these are scams. If you had really won something, you wouldn’t need to send any fees or taxes up front. All of those are handled by IRS when you file your tax return. These people are just trying to get your hard earned money. Don’t let them have it.

Senior Busters

Be aware that there are many con artists that want your money. The key is to be aware. There are mail and email frauds, con games and sweet-talk crimes. Keep these guidelines and you should be able to detect a con. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Don't pay any money up front. Do not pay any fees or "good faith" money.
  • Do not sign any contract without having it examined.
  • Check the credentials of any salesperson or business. All business people should be registered with City licensing or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Don’t make hasty decisions where your money or property is concerned.

Here are some examples of frequently used scams:

"Your money is safe . . . with me"
What they do: pretend to be bank inspectors and ask for your assistance in catching a person defrauding the bank. But they need you to take money out of your account to make sure they have the right person.

What you do: Close the door or hang up the phone and call police. If you’re already at your bank, pretend you’re going along with it to get away from the “inspector” and have the bank teller call the police.

"Let me fix that for you"
What they do: come to your house telling you that you need home repairs or that they think you do and want to inspect your roof, floor, etc.

What you do: If you did not call these people, close the door and call the police. Never let anyone you don’t know into your home. When you actually need home repair, make sure you get at least three quotes before you choose a company. Make sure the company has a contractor’s license and is fully licensed and insured.

"Trust me – I’m a cop "
What they do: pretend to be a police officer investigating a crime. He/she wants to mark the valuables but does not have the tools. He/she asks you to take them to the station.

What you do: Get their IBM number and name, close the door and call the police. If the person at the door is a police officer, he/she will understand.

”All that glitters is not Gold"
What they do: approach you and say he/she has a gold nugget and needs money for a family emergency. A second person stops as the first person is talking to you. The second person pretends this is too good to be true and asks if he/she can take the nugget to a conveniently nearby jewelry store to have it confirmed as being gold. The second person then comes out of the jewelry store and states that it is gold and that it is worth a stated amount. But the second person only has enough money in their bank account to cover half of the cost of the gold nugget. Will you cover the other half?

What you do: Get a good description of these people and any vehicle they may have. Call the police immediately to report the activity, even though you were too smart to be conned. These people are working together. No one in the jewelry store even looked at the nugget, which is actually a piece of dense metal painted gold. You were about to be swindled. What your parents told you is true. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

”Lotto Luck”
What they do: A person approaches you and says that he/she has a winning lottery ticket but cannot cash it because he/she has no identification and/or is in this country illegally. Often, a second person will also participate in this scam. It can be very similar to the gold scam and usually requires you to take money out of your account or wallet.

What you do: Get a good description and call the police. You don’t need to be legal to collect lottery winnings.

For Seniors:
Safety is generally a matter of common sense. Making yourself feel less vulnerable is sometimes more difficult. The best way to be, and feel safe, is by educating yourself as much as possible and being aware of your surroundings.

Home Safety
Make sure that you have good locks on all doors and on your windows. And ensure that your home is well lit. If you are concerned about the security of your home, and you live in the Modesto Police Department area, you are welcome to call the Modesto Police Department’s Crime Prevention Officer for your area and book a Home Security Inspection. A Crime Prevention Officer will come to your home and thoroughly evaluate your home. You will then be given advice as to how to make your home more secure and a less desirable target to an opportunistic criminal.

Most people feel very safe in their own homes. This feeling of safety can be shattered when you are broken into or find yourself in a situation with an unwanted caller or visitor. There are several ways to make yourself less vulnerable.

Have all of your valuables marked for identification. Things like your TV, stereo, walker, cane and motorized scooter can be engraved to deter theft. You can borrow an engraver from the Crime Prevention Office or call us for other options.

Write down the makes, models, and serial numbers of any valuable equipment and put it away for safe keeping, preferably in a safety deposit box or in a concealed location.

At the Door
Never open the door before you know who is on the other side. Have a peephole installed in the door so that you can see who the caller is. A peephole is inexpensive and easily installed. If you do not know the person, do not open the door. If they refuse to leave, call the police. If a stranger comes to the door needing to use the phone, dial the number for them and speak on their behalf. You do not have to open the door. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it.

On the Telephone
You are always in control of a phone conversation. If a stranger calls, and asks you who they are speaking to, ask them who they are looking for. Don’t let callers take over. Do not volunteer personal information. Do not give out your name and address to complete strangers. If the caller states they are from a company or organization, ask for their business, name and number and tell them you will call them back. Remember, if they keep talking after you tell them you are not interested, they are being rude, not you. Hang up on them.

If you are having a problem with obscene calls or frequent hang ups or wrong numbers call the telephone company. There are a variety of options available including getting a new phone number.

Safety on The Street
Be aware of your surroundings and plan the route you are going to take. If you are going into an area where you are uncomfortable, ask yourself if there is an alternate route and take it. If you are walking on the sidewalk, walk in the middle. This makes it tougher for a criminal to grab a purse or a bag. Avoid poorly lit areas.


  • Carry large sums of money or
  • Flash your money around or
  • Carry so much that you do not have one free hand!

Safety in Your Vehicle

There are some simple guidelines to vehicle safety:

  • Keep your vehicle in good working order.
  • Never let your gas drop below ¼ of a tank.
  • Make sure you lock your vehicle, even when you are in it.
  • Never leave valuables visible. Don’t ever leave your purse or briefcase on the seat, even if you’re just running in somewhere “for a minute”.
  • Make sure that you have your car keys ready as you go to your car.
  • Be sure to check the front and back seats before you get in.
  • Keep a flashlight handy.
  • Never put your name, address or driver’s license number on your key ring.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your trunk. Include a blanket, candle, matches/lighter, a granola or energy bar and water. (You may never need it, but there’s comfort in having it available if you should break down.) Replace the granola/energy bar and water often in the summer and every month or so in the winter.

If you break down:

• Put on your four way flashers, put your hood up and stay in your car until help arrives.
• If a stranger stops to help, speak through a barely opened window. If you are uncomfortable or you don’t trust the stranger, tell them police are already on their way. If that does not work, sound your horn.

If The Worst Happens...

If you are being robbed, give up whatever the item being demanded of you. Nothing is worth your life! You are more important! Try to get details about your attacker, note the hair color, height, age, eye color, any scars or physical features that stand out.

If you have to defend yourself, for whatever reason, remember, there are no rules! It is good practice to carry a whistle. If you are in a situation, the best way to attract attention is to make a loud noise. Yelling works, but it takes a lot of energy and voices can fail. A whistle is very loud and takes much less energy. Report the details to the police immediately.

Merced Area Crime Stoppers     |     P.O. Box 811    |     Merced, CA 95341

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