The Holiday Season is Almost Upon Us including Halloween! With the daylight getting shorter and the holiday season coming quickly, it is time to look at your security and crime prevention procedures to ensure safety on and around your campuses. This includes property crimes, vandalism, theft, personal safety, arson, etc.
Each year local law enforcement reports an increase in thefts and property crimes over the holiday season. This is due to an increased need for money and for the simple fact that victims tend to have more cash and property on them during November and December. Law enforcement attempts to combat this trend by increasing police presence around shopping centers, malls, outlet centers, etc. Although this effort helps, it doesn’t guarantee that you will not become the next victim.
Vandalism and other crimes are a problem no matter what time of the year, however, with daylight savings time coming to a close and darkness closing in earlier, it is important to remain vigilant and defend yourself and property from criminal activity. Below are some tips to help you deter and defend against vandalism, theft, arson, etc. at your site or property and reduce the likelihood of being victimized over this holiday season:
Stay alert and always be aware of your surroundings. Keep your head on a swivel, especially when arriving and leaving work. Victims are often targeted in parking lots while walking to or from their vehicles.
A person walking or driving past slowly several times may be “casing” a target. Trust your gut instinct if you think something isn’t right.
If you notice a suspicious activity on or near the campus, report the subject to your Supervisor or District Law Enforcement immediately.
Maintenance staff should always secure high value equipment, such as computers. Always set alarms on computer labs and other high value rooms when leaving for the night.
Be discreet when counting cash in front of others.
Don’t take large amounts of money out of the ATM when others are watching.
Keep your purse and bags close to your body at all times. Never leave it in the basket while you shop.
Keep your wallet and cell phone in your front pocket, rather than your rear, to thwart pick pocket attempts.
Don’t leave purses, wallets, wrapped gifts, or valuable items inside the passenger compartment of your vehicle. If you must leave valuable items in the car, lock them in the trunk, out of site.
Don’t forget that confronting a criminal is dangerous! You have no way of knowing what their mind set is or if they are armed. The best thing you can do if you witness a crime is be a good witness. Make a mental recording of the suspect’s height, weight, clothing descriptions, vehicle descriptions, direction of travel, etc. Remember that no piece of property is worth risking your well-being!
In the midst of a busy holiday season and planning for Winter Break, it can be easy to forget about campus safety, but empty schools and colleges can attract thieves with their own Holiday wish list, including computers, flat screens, smart boards, personal information for identity theft, and even furniture.
Any time your school or campus is going to be empty for an extended period, it’s always a good idea to check for potential security risks well in advance of leaving. Prevention is key and a tactical site survey can be an important tool to help you identify dangerous situations or security hazards before they become opportunities for criminals.
Before a building is left vacant, it is especially important to check door locks, window security, lights, and any security systems in place during the holiday break. Make sure all are working properly, which can reduce the likelihood of break-ins and vandalism while you’re away. If your budget allows, increase security patrols and guard services for certain sites that may be at risk.
Keenan’s IMReady team can provide training, guidance and consultation on security and emergency management topics. Keenan SafeSchools/SafeColleges online training portal also has several related courses:
Crime Prevention through Physical Security
Crisis Response and Recovery
Safety Basics for Security Staff
Vandalism is a problem, no matter what time of the year; however, with daylight saving time coming to a close and darkness closing in earlier, it is important to remain vigilant and defend yourself and property from vandalism. Below are some tips to help you deter and defend against vandalism at your site or property.
Let there be LIGHT – Proper lighting is a vandal’s worst nightmare. Ensuring that your property has adequate lighting is the best defense to deter, discourage, and prevent vandalism. It is recommended that you consult with a lighting expert to ensure proper placement and maximum effectiveness for your particular site or property.
FENCING – Installing fencing around your property is another proactive way to enhance security. A continuous perimeter fence is the first line of defense in a layered security plan and it is a key component in controlling access.
LOCKS – Fencing and gates are only effective if they are actually locked and secured. This seems too simple. Unfortunately, human complacency is all too common. The simple act of remembering to lock gates will greatly enhance your property’s overall security and aid in the prevention of vandalism.
SEE Something, SAY Something – Too often, people think that reporting smaller acts of vandalism to the police is a waste of time or not important. Do not fall into this trap. If you witness an act of vandalism or other property crime, call the police to report the incident. Calling the police promptly will help increase the chance of vandals being arrested and charged for their crimes. If the police are unaware of crimes being committed, they cannot help solve the problem.
VIDEO SURVEILLANCE – Video surveillance cameras not only capture criminal activity in the act and aid with police investigations, they also serve as a huge deterrent to any would-be vandal. The physical presence alone of a security camera goes a long way in deterring vandals from engaging in criminal activity. It is important to note that video surveillance systems can be expensive. It is recommended that you consider your budget and consult with a video surveillance expert to craft the right solution for your property.
SECURITY PATROLS – The presence of security guards/personnel is one of the most effective ways to preventing and deterring vandalism or any other criminal activity. Construction sites are frequent targets of vandalism. Contracting with a security service to conduct routine patrols is the most effective way to preventing such vandalism. If hiring a security service is not in the budget, it is recommended that you contact your local police department and request patrols for any hot spot areas that may be experiencing criminal activity or vandalism.
CLEAN UP – Do not give vandals the satisfaction of allowing the public to see their acts of vandalism or graffiti. Implement a process/procedure for immediately cleaning and repairing damaged property. This prevents vandals from taking credit for their acts and enhancing their reputation amongst peers.
OBSERVE – Graffiti “artists” often practice by marking notebooks, folders, and backpacks with their monikers or “tag”. Graffiti can occasionally be tracked back to the vandal using their personal property as evidence. Keep an eye out for students who carry markers, paint pens, or spray paint; these items are often used to vandalize property by “taggers”.
Decreasing property crime like vandalism, burglary, and arson takes a community wide effort. Visible cooperation between local fire and law enforcement agencies, schools, businesses, and residents helps put property criminals on notice that they are being watched.