The Washoe County Sheriff's Office provides us with a list of tips and precautions to follow for a safer holiday season. Some of these are specific to the holiday season when we tend to be busy and distracted, but many are applicable year round. All of these tips are well worth considering and will help make the Reno area a safer place for you, your family, and your neighbors.
Help Increase Neighborhood Safety
Get to know your neighbors. When people know each other, they help watch for suspicious or unusual activity around your house as well as their own. They are more likely to render assistance should the need arise. Washoe County Neighborhood Watch programs are a way to meet your neighbors and help reduce crime - join an existing group or start one in your area. Learn more about this from the National Neighborhood Watch Institute.
Sign up for Alert ID, a free online neighborhood safety service endorsed by the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. According to the Alert ID website, "AlertID uses the newest online technology to create instant, two-way communications between citizens and federal, state, and local authorities to provide immediate information on crime, terrorism or natural disasters that can threaten the safety of your family and community."
Make sure your kids know about the Safe Place Program. Safe Place is a national program that establishes places in participating communities (Reno is one of them) where children can go for immediate help should they encounter a threatening situation or find themselves in virtually any kind of crisis.
Safety Tips for Shopping
- Lock your vehicle and hide valuables in the trunk or locked compartment.
- When it's dark, park and walk in well lit areas. Carry keys in your hand.
- Stay alert to your surroundings. Look around for possible suspicious persons, vehicles, and/or situations.
- When in crowded places, be alert for potential thieves. Don't overload yourself with packages. Stay visible and maintain mobility to avoid potential threats.
- Be wary of strangers approaching you. Thieves take advantage of the holiday season and may attempt to distract you while stealing your money or belongings.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and valuables. Don't wear expensive jewelry while out shopping.
- Never leave personal belongings unattended.
- Don't shop alone. It is safer to shop with a companion.
- Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a secure place at home.
- Keep a close eye on children at all times.Coach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you become separated. Make sure they know their first and last name so they can tell someone who they are.
- Give children a contact phone number to carry in case they do become lost.
Safety Tips for the Home
- Lock all windows and doors when leaving for any length of time. Keep all entrance points into your house secured while you're at home as well.
- Set indoor and outdoor lights on timers whenever you will be away from home. It's also a good idea to do the same with a TV or radio to make it appear as if someone is home.
- Never place gifts or valuable items in plain view from any window. Close blinds, shutters, drapes, and curtains to prevent a burglar from seeing what he can get if he breaks in.
- If you don't recognize a person knocking at your door, you are not obligated to open up.
- Teach children to never open the door to any unknown person without your knowledge and permission.
Travel Safety Tips
- Tell a trustworthy friend or relative where you are going and the time you expect to return home.
- Ask a neighbor or other dependable person to watch your house. Put vacation holds or your mail and newspaper deliveries, or have someone pick them up daily. Papers in the driveway and a stuffed mailbox are sure signs that no one is home.
- When returning to your vehicle, look inside and around it before getting in. If you see evidence of a possible break-in, call the police.
- Know the weather forecast for your route and destination and plan accordingly. Always carry tire chains during the winter months and keep plenty of gas in the tank.
Cyber Shopping Safety Tips
Online shopping is more popular than ever, and for good reasons - it's convenient, there are great deals to be had, and you can get stuff delivered right to your door, thus avoiding the crushing crowds at the malls during the holiday shopping season. However, there are legions of scammers, fraudsters, and identity thieves at work just waiting to take advantage of the unwary and careless online shopper. Here are some tips from the Washoe County Sheriff's Office cyber crimes unit to help you safely snag those online bargains...
- If it looks too good to be true, it is. Don't be a cyber sucker.
- Inspect credit card statements as soon as you get them. If there are discrepancies or unauthorized charges, report it immediately.
- Always type a website address yourself or access it through trusted search engines.
- Never click on an email link to go to a purchase site. Fraudulent sites are common and some of them are well done and convincing.
- Don't allow online sites to store your credit card information. This supposed convenience is risky business.
- When having items shipped to your residence, make sure someone will be there when they are delivered, preventing thieves from taking them or seeing that nobody is home and exposing yourself to burglary.
- Use a credit card instead of debit card or check. Most credit cards feature consumer protection in the event of fraudulent purchases or disputed transactions.
Reno Area Law Enforcement Phone Numbers
Wherever you are, always call 911 to report life-threatening emergencies involving criminal activity, vehicle accidents, medical problems, etc. Otherwise, use these non-emergency dispatch numbers...
- Washoe County Sheriff's Office - (775) 785-4629
- Reno Police Department - (775) 334-2121
- Sparks Police Department - (775) 353-2231
- Nevada Highway Patrol - (775) 688-2500 (information)
Source: Washoe County Sheriff's Office