Tips for Preventing Crime



  • If you witness a crime in progress
  • If what you see causes you to believe a crime has just taken place
  • If you believe a crime is about to take place
  • If you witness an accident with injuries
  • Your help is needed as extra eyes and ears for the police department


REMEMBER...Don't ever confront a subject to determine what he/she is doing. Call the police for immediate help.

[back to top]



Maybe you leave a window at the back of the house unlocked or hide a key in your mailbox or under a planter. You may think this is a good idea but remember - if you can get in - so can a burglar. Call the Palm Beach Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit at (561) 838-5467 to request a free security survey.


  • If you have an alarm - use it all the time. Have your system checked by the alarm company. Consider upgrading your system. Make sure all family members know how to use the alarm.
  • Make it more difficult for the burglar to find your valuables if he does get inside your home. Find a safe hiding place for your valuables. Don't leave them on the dresser or in a dresser drawer. Designate one closet as “safe” room and fit it with a solid core or metal door with hinges on the inside and a single cylinder deadbolt lock.
  • Although burglaries occur throughout the year - coastal communities are also targets of seasonal burglars. These include professional "gypsy” and copy-cat burglars, in one way or another, are opportunists who take advantage of lapses in security.
  • You can help make your home and your neighborhood less attractive to burglars by taking simple precautions, looking out for your neighbors and - if you notice anything suspicious - by calling the police right away.
  • Any door or window that is not properly secured is an open invitation to the burglar. In at least one-half of all residential burglaries, thieves entered through unlocked doors or windows.
  • When glass is present within 40” of the inside latch, install a double cylinder deadbolt lock. If small children or the elderly reside in the house, consider installing security film or decorative grill work since double cylinder deadbolts can create a problem in case of fire.
  • Thieves hate bright lights. Add outdoor lighting in entryways, ground level windows and garages. Use a combination of motion sensor, photo-electric, low-voltage and decorative landscape lighting for maximum protection. If you travel, create the illusion that you’re at home by using timers to turn lights on and off. Don’t come home to a dark house. Install a photo-sensitive lighting fixture at the front door and leave several lights on timers inside.
  • To secure sliding glass doors install auxiliary locks. Remember that metal locks can become corroded from weather and wear.
  • Jalousie windows are almost impossible to secure without adding protective security grillwork. This type of window should be replaced whenever possible. If replacing windows, consider impact resistant glass which will shatter but not break and will provide hurricane protection.
  • Keep shrubs and hedges trimmed. Make sure fences or trees don’t hide your doors and windows from view.
  • Vary your routine so it will be impossible for the would-be burglar to observe your movements and know when your home is likely to be empty. When you return home, observe your surroundings and be alert to any suspicious activity, persons, or vehicles. Have your keys ready – go right in and lock the door behind you.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of all valuables. This will help police identify you as the owner should your property be stolen and later recovered.

[back to top]


  • An unlocked car is an open invitation to the auto burglar or auto thief.
  • Secure your vehicle at all times - even when it is parked in your own driveway or condominium parking lot and always take the keys with you. Never “hide” keys in the car – even for your convenience.
  • If you have a car alarm - use it at all times.
  • Remove all valuables. Never leave handbags, briefcases, cell phones, wallets, cash, or any other valuables in plain view. Take special precautions when you visit shopping malls, restaurants and other public places especially over the holiday season. Remove your valuables before you leave home or take them into the shop or restaurant with you. The time to remove your valuables is before you arrive at your destination. Your actions could be observed and you could be telling a potential thief exactly where to find your property.
  • Any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity should be reported immediately to the Palm Beach Police Department. Do not wait to confirm your suspicions with a family member or friend. Trust your instincts and call police right away. You may use the police department’s non-emergency number which is (561) 838-5454 or, in any emergency, always call 9-1-1. When outside the Town of Palm Beach report suspicious persons to the local police agency.

[back to top]



  • Use a wide angle viewer (peephole) to see who's at the door before opening it.
  • Don’t leave notes on your door indicating when you’ll be back. Your answering machine message should indicate that you can't come to the phone right now - but don't say you are away or when you will return.
  • If you see signs of a break-in at your home, do not go in. The burglar may still in inside. Go to a neighbor and call the police.
  • Draw your curtains after dark.
  • If you wake up to hear the sound of an intruder lock yourself in the bedroom and dial 9-1-1 even if you cannot speak for fear of being heard by the intruder. Do not hang up the phone – this will alert dispatchers to send help immediately.


  • Don’t make yourself a likely target
  • Don’t wear excessive jewelry
  • Don’t let your purse dangle from your arm
  • Don’t walk alone in dark areas
  • Walk with confidence and a sense of purpose-don’t be tentative
  • Be aware of your surroundings and know what’s going on around you
  • If you think you’re being followed by someone on foot: cross the street, change direction, vary your pace. If he persists, go to an open store or public place and call police
  • If you think you're being followed by someone in a car - turn around and walk in the other direction. Go up a one-way street. If he persists, record the license number and call police.

REMEMBER... Any time you believe you are being followed - DON’T GO HOME - go to a public place and call police for help.


  • Keep doors locked and .Keep windows rolled up.
  • Be alert at intersections
  • Carry a cellular phone
  • Park in well lighted areas
  • Don’t leave house keys with a valet
  • Don’t stop to help the driver of a disabled vehicle - use your cellular phone to notify police that help is needed
  • If you have car trouble - stay inside the vehicle with the doors locked.
  • If a stranger stops to help - ask him to report your situation to the police or the nearest service station
  • If you think you are being followed - don’t drive to your home. Go the nearest police station or open business and ask for help
  • If you are being forced to the curb - don’t allow it. Keep driving. Try to get the license number and description of the car and report the incident to the police. If you are bumped from behind - don’t get out of your car - again - drive to the nearest police station or open business.


  • When approaching the ATM visually scan the area before getting out of your car.
  • If you become suspicious play it safe and go to another ATM.
  • Block the view of other people by standing directly in front of the ATM.
  • When your transaction is finished, leave the area immediately If you must go to the ATM after dark, go to one located inside an open business like a grocery store, or ask a friend to go with you.
  • If you notice a sign or note on the machine informing you that it is being tested or instructing you on how to use the machine – do not insert your card. Find another ATM and inform your bank at the earliest possible time.

[back to top]


The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a wealth of information on child safety and abduction prevention. You can visit their website at, or call them at 1-800-The-Lost (1-800-843-5678).

 These are just a few of their helpful tips:

  • Teach your children to run away from danger - If someone tries to grab them, tell them to make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting. Their safety is more important than being polite.
  • Never let your children go anywhere alone.
  • Know where your children are and who they are with at all times.
  • Talk openly with your children about safety.
  • Have a list of family members or friends who can be contacted in an emergency.
  • Know your employees. Do background screening and reference checks on everyone who works at your home, particularly those who care for your children.
  • Take steps to secure personal information about yourself. Be discreet about your possessions and your family’s personal habits and information.
  • Report any suspicious persons or activities to law enforcement immediately.
  • Remember – you are your own best resource for better safeguarding your family. Do not become complacent about personal security issues.
  • For more details on these valuable child-safety tips, visit the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at

[back to top]


Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America. You can become a victim even if you have been very careful about protecting your personal information. If you suspect you might be a victim, take action immediately and keep a record of the companies and agencies you call.


Call the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus and request that a fraud alert be placed in your file.


Contact your credit card companies, utilities, banks and other lenders and speak to someone in their security or fraud divisions. Follow your phone call with a letter. Close all accounts that been tampered with. When opening new accounts, choose your PIN numbers carefully. Don’t use your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number, or your phone number.


File a report in the community where the theft took place or where you live. For the most up-to-date information about the crime of identity theft, how to avoid being a victim, how and where to report the crime, and what to do to restore your good name - visit the website of the Federal Trade Commission:

[back to top]



  • Greet each customer and make eye contact. A well trained sales staff is your best defense against shoplifters. Remember - courtesy and attention to customers are good for business.
  • Be Alert to Distraction Thieves. Make arrangements with a neighboring store for someone to come in and help when you are alone with more customers than you can handle.
  • Display your merchandise to reduce the opportunity for theft.
  • Arrange counters and displays so that merchandise is in full view of sales staff. Keep easily removable items protected in locked cases when possible.
  • Keep very expensive items away from the door and alternate hangers, especially on racks near doors, to prevent removal of multiple items.

What to do if you suspect someone of shoplifting

Observe the act of concealment since that indicates the intention not to pay and continue your observation to ensure items are not hidden elsewhere in the store.

It you witness a crime-in-progress or if you believe a crime has just taken place or is about to take place, call 9-1-1.

If you suspect someone in your store might be a shoplifter call the police department’s non-emergency number, 838-5454.

Retail Theft by Distraction

Shoplifters use many types of diversionary tactics. Watch out for the "team approach" when an accomplice attempts to divert your attention while his partner steals your merchandise.

Be alert to "staged" disturbances such as accidents or arguments and don’t hesitate to call for assistance.

Trust your Instincts and Notify Police Immediately

Trust your instincts – if you observe suspicious behavior do not wait to confirm this with your boss or co-workers. Call police immediately. Any delay in notifying police will make it more difficult to recover your property.

Protect Your Personal Property

It is absolutely essential that you secure your personal property in stores, offices and other places of business. Use a locker, locked file cabinet or other secure place to keep your handbag, briefcase and other valuables.

Never place your handbag under the desk or behind the counter.

Don’t be shy about challenging a person who enters a store room or office without permission.

If you observe someone in your office about whom you feel uncertain, approach the person and ask if you can be of service or assistance. A thief wants to go about his/her business without being observed or identified. However, never put yourself in danger to protect property.


Counterfeit currency is on the rise due to the use of computers, color copiers, scanners, digital cameras and printing equipment.

The best method of detecting a counterfeit bill is to compare the suspect bill with a genuine bill of the same denomination and series.

Look for differences – not similarities. Remember that most counterfeit bills are inferior in quality. Examine suspect bills carefully.

If you receive a counterfeit bill. . .

Note the passer’s description

Call police. Try to delay the passer while you notify police but never take any action that might aggravate the situation.

If possible, don’t return the bill to the passer.

Remember - your safety is paramount. Don’t do anything that might result in injury to yourself or others.


Today most check fraud is due to counterfeiting using personal computers, scanners and color printers/copiers or chemical alteration which involves removing some or all of the information and manipulating it to the benefit of the criminal. Claims for checks returned for insufficient funds are handled directly with the Office of the State Attorney. Call the police department to request information on how to file. Checks returned because an account has been closed and certain stop payments should be reported to the police department.

Check Screen Tips

Get a complete street address. Don't settle for a P.O. Box number; ask for street address or more information.

Note the check’s date. Pre- or post-dated checks normally cannot be prosecuted.

Be alert to new accounts. About 85 percent of all bad checks are written on accounts that are only a few months old.

Make sure figures and written amounts match. Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies between the numbers and written amounts

Observe the writer’s signature. Don't accept checks that have been previously signed. Make sure signatures match by checking the writer’s signature against a photo i.d., preferably a driver’s license.


Credit Card Handling Tips

Always examine credit cards carefully.

Hold on to the card until the transaction is complete and make sure the signature on the receipt matches the signature on the card. After swiping the card, make sure the number displayed on the terminal and receipt matches the number on the card.

Look for alterations such as ghost numbers or letters. Check the signature strip for changes such as use of white-out.

If presented with an unsigned card, ask for additional identification to verify name and signature. Be alert to a customer who makes one purchase with a credit card and then immediately returns to make another purchase.

Train employees to follow the credit card company’s authorization procedures. Institute a store policy to prevent refund fraud. Don’t give a cash refund without a receipt. If in doubt check with your head office to see if merchandise can be identified as stolen.

Be careful when taking credit card orders over the telephone, especially when the item is to be sent to another address. Be sure to get the name of the card holder and his/her billing address and call the credit card company to verify that information.

Watch out for the customer who . . .

Makes indiscriminate purchases – without regard to color or size.

Enters the store at closing time and attempts to rush you through the transaction.

Refuses alterations even when included in the price.

Purchases a large item and insists on taking the item rather than having it delivered.

Be alert and trust your instincts. . .

If you are suspicious, don’t hesitate to call your authorization center and ask for a "CODE 10" authorization.

You may be asked to retain the card, but don’t put yourself in jeopardy. If the customer becomes hostile or argumentative – return the card, inform the credit card company and call police.

Your safety is number one with us. Never put yourself, your staff or your customers in danger. Let the subject leave the store and then call police.


UPGRADE YOUR DOORS AND LOCKS . . . Locks on commercial properties should be able to withstand the environment and provide high levels of security. The rear door is always vulnerable and should be secured by a good quality deadbolt lock. The type of lock you choose will be dictated by the value of the property you want to protect, by the amount of repeated use and by the amount of money you want to spend

EXTERIOR DOORS & OTHER ACCESS POINTS. . . The exterior door of your shop or restaurant should be of solid core wood or metal construction, at least 1 ¾" thick. If the hinges are on the outside, the door can be removed without disturbing the lock. Inspect all possible access points including vents, air conditioning openings, skylights, rooftop access and shared walls

DISPLAY WINDOWS. . .Remove valuable items from display windows at night. Install windows fitted with impact resistant class or use clear security films, glazing, or laminates to deter smash and grab thieves.

PROTECT THE PERIMETER. . .of your store by alarming all doors and windows. Include glass break discriminators and motion detectors in display windows. Ask your alarm company about a back-up system in the event phone lines are cut.

IF YOU DISCOVER A BUSINESS BURGLARY. . . CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY. . .Do not enter the building without a police officer! The burglar could still be inside. Never risk a life to protect property. Do not touch anything – you might destroy valuable evidence. Make a list of your losses – provide photos and serial numbers to police and be prepared to prosecute.



Insure adequate lighting inside and outside

Clearly display address in front & rear of store

Arrange window displays so visibility into store is not blocked

Limit cash on-site and vary bank deposits

Use impact resistant glass, or security film to deter smash and grab

If you use CCTV – a digital system is best but if you use tapes - rotate tapes and keep tapes for at least one week before reusing


Train employees to be alert to strange or suspicious behavior. Robbers might spend more time watching store employees and looking for security equipment than looking at your merchandise

Establish a secret alert code so employees can alert each other to suspicious persons/activities. Be observant of physical characteristics, clothing and other distinguishing marks


AVOID actions that may cause danger to yourself or others

ACKNOWLEDGE the presence of the robber

OBEY instructions of the robber

ACTIVATE hold-up alarm only if you can do so without detection

REMAIN CALM - the robber is as nervous as you are


Activate the alarm & call police

Preserve evidence and protect crime scene

Check for injuries

Close the business and lock all doors

Don’t let employees or witnesses talk amongst themselves about what happened. Ask witnesses to stay until they are interviewed by detectives

Don’t talk to the media.

[back to top]