National Night Out was created as a yearly event for neighborhoods to bolster their defenses against crime by meeting local police officers, strengthening community bonds, and educating people on how to keep safe from crime. On August 1, 2017, the 34th annual National Night Out will be held in neighborhoods all over the United States. Better Business Bureau® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is supporting this effort by providing some simple tips neighbors can use to stay secure and help make their communities safer.
1. Get to know your neighbors. National Night Out is the perfect way to meet people in your area. Just knowing who your neighbors are can be of great value, but establishing relationships can really make a difference in keeping your neighborhood safe from crime.
2. Neighborhood watch. Form a watch group in your area and report suspect activity. Unfamiliar cars driving slowly or individuals acting suspiciously should raise a red flag and police and neighbors should be alerted. A list with names and phone numbers of homeowners on your block can be beneficial to have at the ready.
3. Monitor door-to-door sales. Although many legitimate companies solicit door-to-door, con artists use this technique as well. If your neighborhood is visited by a door-to-door sales person, know that you do not have to answer the door or allow the person into your home. If you choose to answer, do not commit to purchase any product or service until you have checked the company out with BBB by visiting bbb.org. It’s also a good idea to ask if they have a solicitor’s license, if necessary.
4. Trash and recycling bins. Many people put their collection bins out the night before pick-up. Or they do so just before leaving for work in the morning. In either case, dumpster divers may have an opportunity to dig through your trash for personally identifiable information. Never put financial or personal information in your trash. If you see people going through your trash, call your local police. Do your best to collect your bins the same day sanitation crews have collected trash and recycling.
5. Shred your documents! Documents with financial or personal information like bank and credit card statements, stock portfolios, tax returns, ATM and credit/debit card receipts, copies of birth, death, and marriage licenses, vehicle titles, deeds and mortgages, pay stubs and insurance policies should all be destroyed by a cross shredder.
6. Mail boxes. Mail theft is one of the primary ways thieves can obtain personal information they need to perpetrate identity theft. Collect mail as soon as it's delivered, or obtain a locking mail box to give you more security. Be on the lookout for bills or financial statements that don't show up - this is a sign of possible identity theft.
7. Home security systems. Professional home security systems may not fit into everyone's budget, but they can be a deterrent to criminals. Some home security products are very inexpensive like motion sensor lights, etched window glass film, tethered safes, patio door reinforcement bars, light timers, and entry alarms. Also, never leave keys in your car - even when your car is in your garage.
8. Vacation safety. While on vacation, let police, trusted neighbors, or friends and family know when and how long you will be away from home, and also where and how you can be reached. Having someone check on your home, bring in newspapers and mail, and turn lights on and off can keep your home safe. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, you may want to stop newspapers and mail while you’re gone.
By working together with your neighbors, you can create a safe community. Participating in National Night Out is a great first step towards stamping out crime on the street where you live.