March 2013

How to Avert Petty Crime

Amber Hawkins

Don’t commit crime within eyesight of a police station; the outcome is not likely to be in your favor,” wrote the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), in one of last month’s bi-weekly updates to the Bayview District community. Seems like good advice. According to SFPD, the following items were stolen from automobiles in Bayview, Dogpatch, and Potrero Hill during the first two months of the year: power tools, purse, two stereos, two backpacks, clothing, GPS, Samsung tablet, soccer gear, laptop, and money. Even more expensive items have been taken from homes and businesses, including three laptops, five televisions, iPads, cell phones, and cameras.

The car burglaries demonstrate that nothing, even a soccer ball, should be left in an unattended vehicle. Other crime tips include the following: 

> Always have a passcode on a smart phone, tablet, and laptop. Although having a code can be a hassle, passcode-protected devices can prevent information from being stolen, and make it more difficult for a criminal to recycle the item.

> Backup information on an external hard drive, or store a backup through a cloud service. 

> Download an application that tracks devices if they’re lost or stolen. Popular tracking apps include Find My iPhone, Where’s My Droid, and Lookout. 

> When in public, disguise devices so it’s not immediately obvious that thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics are walking around. Consider keeping laptops in a backpack or briefcase rather than carrying a laptop bag, which can put an immediate target on belongings. There are also multiple products that offer hidden compartments for cell phones and wallets; check-out the Contigo Autoseal Kangaroo water bottle with a storage compartment on Amazon. 

> If a device is lost or stolen immediately contact the service provider to find out what to do. Many services can remotely deactivate a device, or mark it as stolen so it can be tracked if it’s reactivated using a serial number or unique International Mobile Equipment Identity number. 

> Consider purchasing insurance on expensive belongings through product or service providers. 

> File a police report immediately after a burglary 

> Don’t let electronic devices out of your sight! 

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