Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound knows the past several months have been incomprehensible—both around the world and right at home in our communities. No one could have predicted how much of an impact COVID-19 would have on our lives, but we’re doing everything we can to adapt to the situation at hand and to assist families and businesses to stay safe during this pandemic. We will continue to fight regional felony crimes as best we can and look forward to your continued support in our efforts. In the meantime, we’ve compiled some guidelines and tips to provide for the safety of you, your family, and your businesses alike. WE WILL ALL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!
- Safety Tips for Closed Businesses
- Civil Unrest Safety Tips
- Situational Awareness During COVID-19
- Domestic Violence in the Time of COVID-19
Safety Tips for Closed Businesses
Considering the recent events in the United States as well as globally, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound has compiled some common sense tips for small business owners who have been forced to close during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The police are already seeing a rise in burglaries and vandalism of commercial establishments, and Crime Stoppers is doing our part to help businesses better protect themselves in these trying times.
Here are some preparations you can make now in the event of later widespread issues:
- Make sure your business is locked up thoroughly, and have someone check the building daily.
- Move all product away from windows and store in a safe location—or remove from the building all together.
- Definitely empty the cash register and consider emptying the safe/lock box and move to separate location.
- Consider boarding up vulnerable entry points that would make easy access for a burglar. This also helps reduce vandalism.
- Utilize security cameras and alarms.
- Keep the area well lit, and consider motion sensor lights for added visibility.
- Unplug all necessary items, including electronics and space heaters.
- Stop or re-direct mail and cancel publications, such as newspapers. It would not be good to have items pile up at the business.
- Notify your local Police Department that you will be closed, and update any posted Emergency Contact Information.
We are all hoping that this pandemic will end soon, and we can return to our work sites to provide for our families. Remember, Police, Fire, and EMS will be working at full capacity; however, these agencies could take more time than usual to assist you should the need arise. In troubling times, these men and women will be doing all they can to serve and protect our communities.
Civil Unrest Safety Tips
Considering the recent events in the United States as well as globally, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound has compiled these common-sense tips to keep you and your family safe should any type of civil unrest occur. Here are some preparations you can make now in the event of later widespread issues:
- Have at least a 30-day supply of food and water.
- Keep your vehicle’s fuel tank FULL should you need to leave unexpectedly.
- Have emergency supplies in your vehicle and anything you think you might need should you be forced to leave your home.
- Have a First Aid Kit at the ready, and make sure you have a 30-day supply of any prescription medications you take.
- For your home, security cameras and alarms are ALWAYS a good idea.
- Have some ready cash available on hand as ATMs/banks might not be operational.
- Have some sort of self-defense system on hand, such as a firearm, pepper spray, etc., to utilize should you need to protect yourself or your family. Make sure you are familiar with the safety procedures of your self-defense choice, and use only as a last resort.
- Develop a Family Emergency Plan and make sure all family members know it. Cell phone circuits will most likely be overloaded or might not function at all, so be prepared to fall back on the Emergency Plan to secure your family.
Remember, if you don’t need to leave your house, STAY HOME. Police, Fire and EMS will be working at full capacity; however, these agencies could take more time than usual to assist you should the need arise. In troubling times, these men and women will be doing all they can to serve and protect our communities.
Situational Awareness During COVID-19
Considering the recent restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 “Shelter in Place” Order from Governor Inslee, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound has compiled the following safety tips to better protect ourselves during these unprecedented times.
In the late afternoon of April 20 in West Seattle, a woman was approached by what was described as a “strange man in a van” who wanted her to get in his vehicle. She was able to run and get away. The day prior, two children were able to escape a man who attempted to lure them into a van in the Burien area. Both incidents occurred in broad daylight with no other people around.
Due to the quarantine orders in place, our neighborhoods have much less traffic and fewer pedestrians out in public, which makes it easier for criminal activity to flourish. It now becomes more important than ever to be aware of your surroundings to keep you and your family safe.
When out on a walk, running errands, or exercising, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound suggests the following:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Recognize what would be considered “normal” for your neighborhood or what seems out of place. Are there any unfamiliar vehicles or people that appear to be watching or following you?
- Have your cell phone with you, and call a friend if it seems someone is following you. Make sure you give the description of the person and the vehicle to your friend.
- If you feel safe enough, take a photo of the person and/or vehicle.
- If you are POSITIVE someone is following you, either on foot or in a vehicle, do your best to get away and CALL THE POLICE.
- Walk with a friend, and stay on arterial streets instead of deserted roads or alleyways.
- Consider carrying pepper spray.
- Make yourself aware of any escape routes where you could run if need be.
- Trust your “gut instinct,” and do what you feel you need to do to extract yourself from what you feel is a bad situation. Remember, there is “NO HARM IN A FALSE ALARM.”
Domestic Violence in the Time of COVID-19
In these uncertain times and anxiety caused by COVID-19, Domestic Violence is on the rise. When domestic partners are confined to isolated homes with an abusive partner whose coercive and physically violent tendencies are enabled and further inflamed by economic stressors, the outcome can be devastating, especially when outside ties are limited or severed. The Seattle Police Department alone states that DV response is up more than 20%.
What can you do if you are a victim of Domestic Violence? What can you do if you feel someone you know might be abused and what are the signs to recognize? Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound has compiled these safety tips to better protect those victims and aid in removing a victim from an abusive situation:
- First and foremost, whether you are the victim or a witness to Domestic Violence, if the assault is occurring in real time, CALL THE POLICE immediately.
- If you are out in a public area and see an actual DV assault taking place and you feel safe enough, do something radical, like shout “STOP…. WE SEE YOU…. WE ARE CALLING THE POLICE.”
- If you only hear a heated argument from, say, your neighbor’s residence and are concerned for the individual’s immediate safety, you DO have the right to contact the Police. Make sure you explain the circumstances and ask for a “Welfare Check.” If you feel at risk, ask the Police to remain anonymous.
Other things to consider doing:
- Speak to the person you believe is at risk, in person, the next day.
- Tell them what you heard, and ask if they are OK.
- Be sure to approach in a safe environment AWAY FROM the suspected abuser.
- Never blame or say something like “what did you do to provoke” the abuser. Remember, assault/abuse is NEVER OK!
- Tell them the abuse is not their fault and that they deserve support.
- If the victim decides to press charges, your statement may provide the necessary corroboration for impending criminal charges.
Even with a “Stay at Home” order in place, in our isolation, we can remain vigilant, care for one another, and help whenever we can.