Prevention

Crime Prevention…

Preventing crime before it happens

Our anonymous phone number,0-800-922-TIPS (8477), and our Anonymous Online Form exist to give you a safe and secure route to give information about crime. This is our core service but we also want to help prevent crime before it happens.

This section has practical advice including personal safety tips, advice on how you can protect your family, business, home, vehicle and more.

Your Property

There are a number of things you can do to avoid becoming a victim of crime, both when you are at home or away.

Protect your home

It’s important to make your home as protected as possible to ensure that it is a safe place for you and your loved ones. Follow our advice on keeping your home and property secure from most criminal threats.

  • Make sure all points of entry to your home or property have locks.
  • Fit a “spy hole” so you can see who is calling at your door – and also fit a door chain so that they cannot push themselves in. Don’t let anyone into the property that you feel unsure about and always ask to see identification – if they don’t have any, do not let them in.
  • When you leave the property, no matter for how long, make sure that these entry points are all locked. Also make sure you lock up before going to bed at night.
  • Do not leave your keys in doors or windows, or within easy reach of the front door. While it might make your life easier to keep them in one place close to the door, it also makes it easier for intruders to obtain access to all of your property.
  • Think about further security measures – a fence, burglar alarm or security lights can be a good investment and are much more likely to deter burglars. They can also decrease your insurance payments.
  • When leaving the property to go on vacation, use timers on lights and radios to create an impression that someone is still in the property, or ask neighbors to make occasional visits to your property or park in your driveway.
On Vacation

Thieves are often watching for homes that look empty, particularly during school holidays, as they know this is a popular time to go away. Follow our advice to help prevent your household falling victim to burglars.

  • Make your home look like someone is living in it, e.g. don’t close your curtains. In daytime this shows your house is empty. Also, use automatic timer-switches to turn your lights and radios on when it goes dark.
  • Trusted neighbors may be able to help you by collecting your mail or parking their car on your driveway.
  • Try not to take a taxi to the airport. If you do, use a taxi driver you can rely on, don’t discuss your holiday plans and make it sound like you have a house-sitter, whether you do or not.
  • Leave important documents and valuable items with other family members. Alternatively lock them in a safe.
  • Do not put your home address on your luggage when you are travelling to your holiday destination. A house number and postcode will suffice if you want to label your luggage.
  • If you normally leave bicycles or similar items in your shed, ensure the shed is locked or consider putting them in the house.
  • Make sure that you lock all outside doors and windows and set your burglar alarm if you have one.
  • Don’t post public messages on social media that you’re away from home.
Burglary

Burglary is an unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of a residence for the purpose of committing a criminal offence, usually theft. Victims of burglary not only lose items of value, some of which are personal or irreplaceable, but the emotional shock of having your property invaded can be deeply upsetting. How can you protect your property from intruders?

When are you most likely to be a victim of burglary?

Criminals look for a number of signs to detect an empty home, so consider all of the following points to protect your home.

  • Whenever you’re away from home.
  • When you’re home, but busy or asleep.
  • After Christmas when criminals know you have new and expensive presents in the house.

Make your home secure

There are a variety of ways to make your home more secure for the future. While some security measures can be expensive, there are other things you can do that cost much less:

  • Leave lights or a radio on when you go out.
  • Check that all doors and windows are properly closed and locked.
  • Don’t leave side gates open and make sure they’re secure.
  • Don’t leave accessible windows open at night.
  • Keep ladders out of sight.
  • Break up packaging for electrical goods (TVs, laptops etc.) and put it all in a black trash bag to place outside your home on the morning of trash collection. Leaving the packaging outside your home will alert a burglar to your new purchase.

What is distraction burglary?

Distraction burglary is where the offenders trick or dupe the occupant or distract them, allowing the other person they are working with to gain access to the property and commit burglary. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to distraction burglary.

Vehicles

Follow this ‘breakdown’ of vehicle crime – everything you need to know.

Valuables – Don’t advertise to thieves, keep all valuables and documents out of sight or take them from the vehicle when leaving.
Engine off – Never leave an unattended car running or your keys in the engine, no matter how long you will be away from the car.
Help others – Encourage others to take these same steps to secure their property. Most vehicle-related crime occurs outside residential property, so the more vigilant the local neighborhood, the less likely criminals are to see an opportunity.
Insure everything – so that you are covered in case the worst should happen and always use a valid insurance provider to guarantee that you have a valid policy.
Check your property – make a list of your valuables, take photographs of the property, and where possible, write the registration number on the car stereo, engine and bike frame, which will make those parts easier to trace if stolen.
Lock your vehicle doors – also get a secure bike lock in order to deter thieves.
Evaluate each situation – before you leave your vehicle or property, you may need to change or adapt your security.

Your Family

Some of the most emotional and traumatic crime can take place within families. Even underneath the surface of a happy household there can be damage caused by unlawful behavior. To recognize the signs and obtain help, find out what you need to look for.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse can be defined as a pattern of controlling behavior that can lead to physical and sexual violence, and is not necessarily a problem with managing anger. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, socio-economic background, sexuality and while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused.

When is it abuse?

Domestic abuse can manifest itself in many ways depending on the nature of the relationship, but some common traits can be:

  • Threatening or intimidating behaviour – domestic abuse isn’t always violent, but it can often escalate to physical abuse.
  • Belittlement – constant criticism or putting the other partner or spouse down, especially in front of family and friends.
  • Controlling behaviour – excessively jealous or possessive behaviour, limiting the other person’s access to money, friends, vehicles or freedom in general.

What can be done?

In some cases, situations can become life threatening, so it is important that if you or somebody you know is in an abusive relationship you should act fast. If it is currently taking place and someone is in danger you should call 911. Alternatively, if you are worried about someone finding out you can contact Crime Stoppers Belize anonymously by filling out our Anonymous Online Form or calling 0-800-922-TIPS (8477)

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is when someone grooms and controls a child for a sexual purpose. It can happen to boys and girls, face-to-face or online. It is a form of child abuse and should be treated as a child protection issue.

How can I tell if something is wrong?

Some children are more vulnerable than others. There are a number of signs that a child may be a victim of sexual exploitation:

  • Unexplained gifts
  • Unaffordable new things (clothes, cell phone) or expensive habits (alcohol, drugs)
  • Drug use, alcohol abuse
  • Going missing, running away, homelessness
  • Disengagement with school, truancy, exclusion
  • Repeat sexually transmitted infections; in girls repeat pregnancy, abortions, miscarriage
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Sexually risky behaviour
  • Association with older men
  • Hanging out with groups of older people, anti-social groups, other vulnerable peers
  • Self-harming, suicide attempts, overdosing, eating disorders
  • Injuries from physical assault, physical restraint, sexual assault
  • Getting into/out of different cars
  • Gang fights, gang membership

What can be done?

In some cases, situations can become life threatening so it is important that if you or somebody you know is a victim of sexual exploitation, you should act fast. If it is currently taking place and someone is in danger you should call 911.
Alternatively, If you are worried about someone finding out, you can contact Crime Stoppers Belize by filling out our Anonymous Online Form or calling 0-800-922-TIPS (8477)

Your Business

Criminals know there is a lot of money to be made by duping people into handing over cash or security details and it can be difficult to know how to protect yourself, especially as criminals’ tactics are becoming more sophisticated and varied.

Business Fraud

Criminals will sometimes go to great lengths to trick you into ‘working with them’, in some cases setting up seemingly genuine businesses. Find out how you can avoid fraud.

A common type of fraud committed in the business world is receipt fraud, where employees will steal incoming cash or cheques or when records of amounts owed by customers are adjusted in return for cash rewards or other incentives.

Protecting yourself
  • Control who has access to equipment, documents and computers to prevent any unauthorised use.
  • Train your staff in your security systems and your disciplinary policies and procedures.
  • Where possible, divide duties between staff so any irregularities will be spotted. Introduce appropriate supervisory and monitoring controls. Random spot checks are effective at preventing fraud.
  • Take steps to tackle credit card fraud. Routinely check the dates credit and debit cards are valid from and to, phone for authorization where appropriate, check the card and its signature strip for signs of alteration, check the signature you’re given against the one on the card and check the number on the card matches the number on the till printout.
  • If you accept credit card payments without seeing the actual card, ask your bank about ways to help reduce the risks of fraud.

Beware of suppliers and customers offering unrealistically low prices or high payments. Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Your Community

Criminals know there is a lot of money to be made by duping people into handing over cash or security details and it can be difficult to know how to protect yourself, especially as criminals’ tactics are becoming more sophisticated and varied.

Anti-Social Behaviour

The following is classed as anti-social behaviour:

  • Nuisance neighbours
  • Intimidating groups taking over public places
  • Vandalism, graffiti, fly-tipping
  • People taking or buying drugs on the street
  • People dumping rubbish or abandoning cars
  • Anti-social drinking
  • Excessive noise
  • Threatening behaviour or verbal abuse, including racism
  • Inconsiderate and dangerous driving

What can you do?

If you want to take action about anti-social behaviour you should first try to find out who is responsible for the behaviour. It is also important to establish whether the behaviour is deliberate or unintentional. If you are victim of anti-social behaviour you should contact your community support officer to find out the best way to resolve any conflict.

Please note that Crime Stoppers cannot take information from victims, and will only take information about anti-social behaviour in exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances could include a live incident with a firearm/weapon or continuous gatherings with repeated criminal aspects (typically criminal damage). In order to take this information we would also need the information giver to provide the name of the offender. However please note we would strongly recommend contacting the police in the first instance, should there be a threat of this nature.

Neighbourhood Watch

The Neighbourhood Watch programme is one of the most effective voluntary crime prevention initiatives around the world, as proven by the decrease in crime in the areas that have implemented the program.

Members are encouraged to take steps to make their homes more secure, to watch out and alert neighbours of anybody acting suspiciously or committing a crime in their neighbourhood, and to immediately report anything out of the ordinary to the Police or Crime Stoppers Belize.

You Personally

We often take many precautions to look after our families, homes and vehicles, but don’t do enough to ensure our own safety. Creating new habits will not only help keep you safe from being a victim, but can help you become more aware of others who may be putting themselves in danger.

Personal Safety

It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry – here are some simple changes you can make to decrease your chances of becoming a victim of crime.

  • Where possible, don’t walk around at night on your own. If you have to, walk with purpose and direction, try to stay in well-lit, crowded areas, and try not to get your phone out as it makes you, and your phone, an easy target for thieves.
  • Do not be over-protective over your belongings; you can get a new phone and you can order new bank cards. Your priority is to think about getting yourself away from a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Spread your personal belongings – try not to keep all your valuables in your bag or in one place so that should the worst happen, you don’t have to give up everything.
Tips to reduce the risk of theft

There are a number of precautions you can take to both prevent theft from happening and to assist in the recovery of your stolen items. Thieves look for people and homes they can easily target, so take the time to make yourself aware of the tips to reduce the risk of theft from the person.

Be aware

  • Lock doors and windows when leaving a property.
  • Keep bags securely fastened and out of view.
  • Only take out what is necessary when going out at night.
  • Avoid listening to music on headphones whilst walking home at night alone and keep to well-lit, busy areas.
  • Make sure no one is loitering too close when using a cash machine. Don’t be distracted while you remove your card and cash from the machine.
  • After withdrawing cash, don’t count your money in the middle of the street.
  • Be alcohol aware and drink responsibly.

Look after your belongings

  • Mark belongings using a UV pen or other marking system.
  • Never leave your bag, cell phone, tablet or laptop unattended in public view, even if you are just going to the toilet.
  • Do not keep all your valuables in one place. Instead place items such as wallets and cell phones in inside pockets.

Out shopping

Thieves and con artists are always on the look-out for opportunities to take your money when you’re out and about. What can you do to stay safe when you’re out shopping?

  • Try to pay using a debit or credit card rather than carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Take extra care when using an ATM or chip and pin – cover the keypad with your hand.
  • Never write down your pin number.
  • If you carry a handbag, keep your purse at the bottom of it.
  • Never keep your wallet in your back pocket.
  • Keep your handbag zipped at all times – crowded shopping areas are very popular with pickpockets.
  • Don’t leave any bags, including your handbag, in the shopping trolley while you shop.
  • Stay alert when using your cell phone. It’s very easy for someone to snatch it out of your hand.
  • Don’t return to your car to leave purchases in the boot before continuing with your shopping, as thieves can watch in car parks.
  • Don’t leave valuables on the seat of your car – they attract thieves.
  • Don’t leave your house keys in your car.

Protect your cell phone

  • Avoid talking on your cell phone while walking home at night alone and keep to well-lit, busy areas.
  • Be careful when using it outside bus stations, which are popular venues for snatch theft, often by motorcycle.
  • Keep it hidden from view, not in your back pocket.
  • Keep public phone conversations short.
  • Make a note of your personal IMEI number (type *#06# on your phone’s keypad to get it). If you have the IMEI number you can block your phone being used if it is stolen.
  • Use a security code or PIN.
  • Download a phone tracking application.
Identity theft

Identity theft or identity fraud is when someone steals your name and other personal information. They steal financial information to use to make purchases and transactions in the victim’s name. It can take months to realize that the fraud is taking place and longer still to recover what they have taken.

Identity fraud is often linked to organised criminal networks as a means for funding some of their larger scams. It is also found to be closely linked to human trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and drugs.

Before giving out personal information ask yourself:

  • Who is asking for my details?
  • What details are they asking for?
  • Why do they need to know these details?
  • Have they verified who they say they are?
  • Would the person they claim to be genuinely request that information?
  • Have I disposed securely of any personal or financial information, including receipts?
  • If you have any suspicions, don’t give out your details until you’ve checked everything out. If you suspect anyone is committing identity fraud please contact Crime Stoppers Belize anonymously
Theft from the person

Theft from the person is where items are stolen from someone without the threat or use of physical force, for example snatching items or pickpocketing.

These crimes can happen to anyone at any time of day; however, figures show that students and young women aged 18-24 who may be out at night are particularly vulnerable to these crime types.

Street robbery or ‘mugging’ is more likely to happen in quiet or dark areas. If someone tries to take something from you by force, it may be best to give it to them rather than put yourself in danger.

Online safety

The Internet is a wonderful resource, revolutionizing the way most people live today, from shopping and keeping up with friends to finding romance. Unfortunately, it is also a way for less honest individuals and groups to carry out crimes such as fraud, identity theft, blackmail and different kinds of abuse. Anyone can be a target, and the criminals have no conscience about who they’re harming. Find out how you can safeguard yourself online.

You should have at least a basic knowledge of online safety, so that you can continue to use the Internet without concerns, and safeguard yourself, your family, your workplace and your online devices.

Tips for staying safe online

Passwords:
Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully, and use a different one for every account.
Internet Security:
Ensure you always have Internet security software updated and switched on. This includes on your smartphones and tablets as they are also vulnerable.
Personal information and social media:
Never reveal too much personal or financial information in social networking posts/profiles; you never know who might see it, or use it.
Watch out for scams:
Be on your guard against ‘social engineering’ scams, which include fraudulent emails, phone calls or texts designed to manipulate you into revealing your confidential banking details.
Watch what you click:
Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails if the source isn’t 100% known and trustworthy. Similarly, don’t click on links in texts, WhatsApp messages or social networks if you’re not certain of the sender and that they’re genuine.
Is your payment secure?
Ensure payment pages are secure before you enter your card details. You can tell if this is the case if the address starts with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ stands for secure) and there’s a locked padlock in the address window.
Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Take your time and think twice, because everything may not be as it seems.
Shopping safely online
Check out this great info graphic from the UK that gives you the lowdown on what you can do to ensure that you shop safely online.

Crime Stoppers Belize

Did you know?

Almost 30% of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door or window.
An astonishing 34% enter through the front door.
They usually go to the master bedroom first.

0-800-922-TIPS

Submit Anonymous Tip Online

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