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Safety Tips

Credit card skimming protection

What is skimming?

A small device attached to a credit card terminal that captures your credit card data. In almost all cases you have no way of knowing the device is there. Once the thieves have your information they quickly create a cloned card and start their spending spree. They can make off with hundreds of thousands of dollars with very little risk.

SkimStop program

SkimStop is a crime prevention program that is a partnership between local law enforcement and local businesses. It is designed to help safeguard your account information when you use your credit card at a gas pump. A business that participates in SkimStop agrees to check their equipment daily and place security tape on all the credit card terminals to prevent skimming devices from being used. Businesses are held accountable with daily logs that can be checked by law enforcement. SkimStop greatly decreases the possibility of the use of skimming devices, but consumers should always monitor their credit and debit cards for unauthorized activity as even the best efforts are open to error.

Participating businesses

Currently these Brooklyn Park businesses participate in SkimStop:

  • Holiday, 8500 Edinburgh Centre Dr.
  • Holiday, 9605 Colorado Ln. N.
  • Holiday, 8517 Jefferson Ln. N.
  • Holiday, 9399 West Broadway Ave. N.
  • BP, 8080 Brooklyn Blvd.

View locations of participating businesses on a map

Look for the sticker

When you see this SkimStop sticker you can rest easier knowing that the business and local law enforcement are working together to try to protect your information.

SkimStop participant sticker

Actual sticker size is 2 inches by 2 inches.

Interested in participating?

Are you a business in Brooklyn Park interested in SkimStop? This program is as easy as 1 2 3!

  1. Contact us for program details and buy the security labels.
  2. We will come out and inspect your pump
  3. That day you receive the SkimStop sticker you are added to our list of participants.

Phone and email

Kim Czapar
Crime Prevention Specialist
763-493-8222
Email Kim Czapar

Social media: buying and selling safety tips

Selling or purchasing items online can be a great way to make some money or get a great deal. However, there are certain things you should keep in mind when buying/selling on social media garage sale sites or online sale sites.

Here are some safety tips:

  • Make sure you meet in a safe, public place.
    • Do not go to their home—go somewhere where there will be other people around.
    • Consider meeting at the local police department-the Brooklyn Park Police Department encourages you to meet at one of our stations.
  • Do not meet in a secluded place.
  • Never invite strangers into your home.
  • Be especially careful when buying/selling items of high value.
  • If you can, take someone with you or at least let someone know where you are going.
  • Look for anything out of the ordinary on the property such as a scratched off serial number or personal etchings on the item. It may indicate it could be potentially stolen.
  • If you are asked to deposit a check, money order, or some other type of suspicious currency into your account before sending it to someone else YOU ARE PROBABLY BEING SCAMMED. Your bank could hold YOU responsible for the loss!
  • Trust your instincts.

Stolen cell phone check

Brooklyn Park area cell phone providers are offering a free public service to residents. If both parties (seller/buyer) meet at the provider’s business to conduct their sale, the provider will run the cell phone’s ESN (Electronic Serial Number) for you to see if it is stolen or currently under another cell phone plan. This is a great way to protect yourself from purchasing a stolen cell phone.

Robbery prevention

Do your part to help prevent a robbery

  • Try not to walk alone, especially at night.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Thieves often target smart phones/cell phones, purses, jewelry or wallets. Be discreet with your property; don’t walk around with an expensive item in your hands out in the open.
  • When possible, stay in well-traveled public areas.
  • Things can happen quickly! Be alert to your surroundings and do not enter into a situation that does not look safe.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately to police by calling 911.

What to do if it happens to you

  • Call 911
  • Try to remember as much detail as you can, such as:
    • Description of any suspects
    • What they were driving
    • License plate information

How can you assist police

  • Go through your cell phone settings and take note of your cell phone’s unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. Keep this number in a safe place. If you are robbed, this number can be useful to police to identify any person that tries to reactivate your stolen cell phone.
  • Always report any incidents of intimidation or threats you receive or see.

Auto theft prevention

  • Never leave your car running unattended, even to dash into a business, store, daycare center, etc.
  • Never leave any keys in the car or ignition, inside a locked garage, or in hide‐a‐key boxes.
  • Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is parked in front of your home.
  • Always park in high‐traffic, well‐lighted areas, when possible.
  • Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel, column, or brakes. These devices will deter some criminals.
  • Investigate the purchase of a vehicle theft tracking/security system, especially if you own one of the frequently stolen model vehicles.
  • 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.

What attracts a car thief?

  • Leaving your car unlocked or the windows down
  • Leaving your keys in the car or a spare key hidden in the car
  • Leaving your car unattended
  • Parking in poorly lit places with low visibility
  • Leaving valuables and packages in your car
  • Cars not protected with an anti‐theft device

Fact about auto theft

  • More than two thirds of all auto thefts occur at night
  • 109 vehicles were stolen in the City of Brooklyn Park in 2015
  • The average loss of missing parts on recovered vehicles is $5,880
  • It can take an expert auto thief as little as seven seconds and one screwdriver to break into a vehicle and less than one minute to drive away.

Burglary prevention

You can reduce the risk of burglary by taking simple steps to make your home more difficult to enter and less enticing to would-be burglars.

House numbers and landscaping

House numbers

House numbers on your home are important. They can save police officers, firefighters and paramedics’ valuable time. Make sure yours are visible at night from the street.

Fences: privacy versus chain link

Burglars prey on privacy. Fences that allow activity to be seen in your yard are preferable to privacy fences.

Trees and shrubs

You should trim your trees and shrubs 6 inches below windows and at least 3 feet away from doors. Shrubbery such as rose bushes or other thorny varieties serve as a good deterrent to criminal activity.

Landscape rocks

Large landscape rocks (golf ball size or larger) can be used to damage your property. Small landscape rocks (smaller than golf ball size) are both decorative and, if someone walks on them, easily heard.

Door lock and strike plates

About deadbolt locks

A deadbolt lock is a bolt you must activated by a key or thumb turn. It offers good security because it is not spring activated and cannot be opened with a credit card.

Single cylinder deadbolts

A single cylinder deadbolt is a bolt you activate with a key on the exterior side of the door and a thumb turn piece on the interior side of the door. You should install this lock at least 40 inches away from breakable glass. Otherwise, a burglar can break the glass, reach inside and turn the thumb piece.

Double cylinder deadbolts

A double cylinder deadbolt is a bolt you activate on both side of the door. You should install this lock if you have glass within 40 inches of the lock. If you have a fire, a double cylinder deadbolt locks could hinder your escape, so make sure your key is nearby. Double cylinder deadbolt locks are only permitted in existing single-family homes, townhomes, and first floor residential –only duplexes.

Criteria for deadbolts

Both single and double cylinder deadbolt locks should meet these criteria to be a good security device:

  • The bolt must extend at least 1 inch and be made of case hardened steel
  • The cylinder guard must be tapered, round, and free spinning to make it difficult to grip with a pliers or wrench. It must be solid metal, not hollow casting or stamped metal.
  • It should have at least a five-pin tumbler system or equivalent locking device
  • Its connecting screws that hold the lock together must be on the inside and made of case hardened steel. It should not have any exposed screw heads on the exterior side of the door.
  • It should have a heavy duty strike plate

About strike plates

A strike plate is the jamb fastening that receives the deadbolt in the locking position. A heavy-duty strike plate strengthens the doorjamb and reinforces the lock better than a regular strike plate. A heavy-duty plate uses 4 to 6, 3-inch screws verses a regular strike plate that uses 2, ¾-inch screws. The longer screws go through the frame into the jamb and make it harder for someone to split the frame when kicking the door.

Window locks

Pin your windows or add an auxiliary lock to your double hung windows. This type of mechanism allows you to secure your window when you open your window (5 inches or less) for ventilation.

Newer windows have higher quality locks while older double hung windows have locks that are easily jimmied or pried open. You can secure double hung windows by taking these simple, inexpensive precautions:

  1. Drill a hole at a downward angle through the first sash and into but not through the second sash.
  2. Drive a nail into the hole to pin the window
  • Pinning braces the window against prying
  • You can drill more holes to pin the window open for ventilation.
  • Keyed locks that offer effective protection are available for window. These inexpensive, easy-to-install locks should replace thumb turn locks that offer little security. Master key all window locks and show children how to use them. Do not use keyed lock on windows in sleeping areas.

Lighting

Motion detector lights

Motion detector lights are very effective in deterring crime. They also light up your driveway or entry door when you are leaving or coming home.

Dusk to dawn lighting

Dusk to dawn lighting is a strong deterrent against criminal activity. It constantly lights up your entry doors and possible obstacles that would otherwise be unseen.

Landscape lighting

Landscape lighting is low voltage lighting that can highlight your property line, light up your sidewalk and light up the exterior of your windows making your home a less attractive target to nighttime burglars.

Interior lighting

You can use light timers on interior lighting to make your home look occupied. Good lights to leave on are bedroom and bathroom lights.

Radios and televisions

Radios and television are also good items for you to have on timers. If someone hears a radio playing a talk station from outside your home, it gives the impression that a conversation is being carried on and someone is home. The perception of someone being home greatly reduces the possibility of a burglary.

Burglary prevention tips

  • Lock your doors and windows
  • Close and lock your garage door
  • Use a dowel or charley bar in the track of sliding doors to help secure them
  • Have an inside light set on a timer
  • Leave a radio on to make it seem like someone is home
  • Leave outside lights on overnight
  • Keep your landscaping trimmed, no hiding places for burglars
  • Make sure your address numbers are easily read from the street
  • Set up a free premise survey
  • Start a neighborhood watch

Mail theft prevention

  • Use official Post Office mailboxes for outgoing mail or hand it to your mail carrier.
  • Never put outgoing mail in your own mailbox and raise the flag.
  • Pick up your mail everyday and pick up your mail promptly after delivery.
  • Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight.
  • If you're expecting checks or credit cards, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
  • Never put outgoing mail in an unlocked mail box. Use a locking mail box for your home. Check with the post office for acceptable styles.
  • If you will be gone, stop your mail or have a trusted neighbor pick it up
  • Never send cash
  • Read it, then shred it- protect your information
  • Report unusual activity around mail boxes by calling 911

Package theft prevention

Packages, which quickly catch the eye of potential thieves, offer criminals that ‘crime of opportunity” they are looking for. Thieves looking to steal your packages will follow or watch for UPS, Fed Ex, US Mail, and other delivery service trucks so they can target your home after the parcels are delivered.

If possible:

  • Ask for a tracking number. Most major shipping companies offer this service at no charge. This number allows you to track your packages and notifies you when they will be delivered.
  • Request a specific drop off time and date when you will be home to accept your packages.
  • Arrange to have your packages held at the shipping service so you can pick them up.
  • Have your packages delivered to the home of a relative or neighbor who will be there to accept them.
  • Ask to have your packages delivered to a retail store so you can pick them up at your convenience.
  • Ask a trustworthy neighbor to keep a “watchful eye” out for you packages. If they’re willing, ask them to safeguard your packages until you return home.

Reporting stolen mail or packages

What should you do if you see mail or packages being stolen in your neighborhood?

  • Call 911 immediately! Tell the dispatcher you are reporting a “crime in progress.”
  • Supply the dispatcher with an accurate description of the suspect(s) and any vehicles that may be involved.

Children and fires

  • Teach your children what “hot” means at an early age
  • Repeat the basic rules of fire safety to your children over and over and over again
    • Stay away from the stove and other hot things
    • Don’t play with matches or lighters
    • Keep back from open fires
    • Don’t play with electricity/outlets
  • Hide matches or lighters from children - keep them up high in a locked cabinet
  • Stop, Drop and Roll – If your clothing catches fire:
    • STOP, don’t run.
    • DROP to the ground covering your face.
    • ROLL over and over until the fire goes out
  • Never hide from fire under a bed or in a closet

Electrical safety

  • Hire a licensed electrician to ensure electrical repairs are performed safely
  • Replace cords that are cracked, frayed, have broken plugs or loose connections
  • Make sure electrical cords (or extension cords) do not run across doorways or under rugs and are not pinched behind furniture
  • Avoid using extension cords.  If you must use one, buy a thicker quality one - not the least expensive
  • Use light bulbs that match a lamp’s recommended wattage
  • Light bulbs in the living area of your home, including closets, should have a shade or globe for protection

Fall prevention

  • Begin a regular exercise program.  That will help with strength and stability
  • Have your health provider review your medicines
  • Have your vision checked at least once a year
  • Keep stairs and places you walk free of things you can trip over like papers and clothes
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping
  • Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without a step stool
  • Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower
  • Improve the lighting in your home

Identity theft prevention

  • Check your credit report at least once per year
  • Annualcreditreport.com offers free reports
  • Never give out your personal information unless you are confident in who you are dealing with
  • Check your bank and credit card statements every month
  • Cancel lost or stolen accounts as soon as possible
  • Report fraud to the bank or credit card company and police department
  • Shred documents before throwing them away
  • If you are the victim of identity theft or are looking for more prevention information, see this brochure from the MN Attorney General’s Office- Guarding Your Privacy

Scams prevention

  • Never give out your personal information unless you are confident in who you are dealing with
  • If you have a question or are skeptical, take time to look into it
  • Never buy things under pressure, take your time
  • Ask for things in writing before agreeing to them
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Report scams to the police department –it can help others in the future

Smoking tips

  • If you don’t smoke, don’t start
  • Smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States!
  • Benefits of quitting
    • Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body
    • Quitting smoking reduces risks for diseases caused by smoking and improves health in general
    • Smoking causes the following diseases and conditions:
      • abdominal aortic aneurysm
      • acute myeloid leukemia
      • cancer of the bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, larynx, lung, mouth, pancreas, stomach, and throat
      • coronary heart and cardiovascular diseases
      • pneumonia and chronic lung diseases
      • reproductive effects and sudden infant death syndrome
  • If you must smoke:
    • Hide matches or lighters from children - keep them up high in a locked cabinet
    • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used
    • If you smoke, smoke outside
    • Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table
    • Never smoke in bed or when sleepy or intoxicated
    • Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out; dousing in water or sand is best

Space heaters

  • Keep fixed and portable space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn
  • Do not use in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water
  • Don’t wear loose, flowing clothing around space heaters

Theft from auto prevention

  • Lock your car
  • Do not leave valuables in your car –including GPS units, change, gym bags, shopping bags, computers, purses, wallets…….
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Use a garage if it is available
  • Use a car alarm if you have one

Wood stoves and fireplaces

  • Have chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening
  • Be sure your fire is out before you go to sleep.  Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace (the fire could heat up and force carbon monoxide into the house
  • NEVER discard hot ashes inside or near the home.  Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house

Holiday safety

This holiday season, please remember the following safety tips when you are at home or out shopping.

Home

  • Always double check that you have locked your doors and windows before you leave your home and before you go to bed at night. Make sure your garage door is closed.
  • Don’t display gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
  • If you go out at night, consider leaving a light or television on so that the house looks and sounds occupied.
  • Be wary of strangers that may come to the door asking for charitable donations. They may be taking advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays. Instead, help the charitable organizations that you know.
  • Immediately after the holidays mark down the serial numbers of any expensive items (such as electronics.) Put the information in a safe place.

Shopping

  • You may be rushing and thinking about many different things, but it’s important to be alert to your surroundings. If you see people loitering in a parking lot or outside of a store, go the other way.
  • Coordinate a shopping trip with a friend or family member if possible. Park in well-lit areas.
  • Lock your car and close the windows when you park your vehicle. Make sure packages are out of sight.
  • Discourage purse snatchers, don’t carry too many packages and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Try to only bring the credit cards you need, leave the others at home in a safe place.
  • Keep your receipt separate from your packages.
  • Carry your purse close to your body.
  • Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard to ask for help if they become separated from you in a store or mall.

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Sign up to receive alerts from the Police Department through Tip411. You will have the ability to customize the information you get.  Choose the neighborhoods you are interested in and choose to get the alerts via email or text message.

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