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Crime Prevention Tips

Auto Crimes

Who Commits Auto Prowls?

Thieves are often looking to steal valuables including wallets, computers and other personal property. Help prevent this crime by removing valuables from your vehicle before you leave your vehicle unattended. We have a downloadable flyer available to print, post and share.

Where Does Auto Prowl Occur?

Common theft location includes parking lots at health clubs, restaurants, trail heads, sports complexes, shopping centers and churches. Thieves will watch wait for people to leave their cars unattended, look through the window for valuables, and if they see something they want, they simply smash the window out, grab the valuables and go. In addition, when you park your vehicle on a neighborhood street or in the driveway thieves will look for opportunities to smash and grab.

What Items Do Thieves Look For?

Cell phones, laptops, backpacks, purses, wallets, garage door remotes and guns are the top targets.  A trunk is not a safe place to store valuables.  Thieves will often watch someone place their valuable in there, and then smash the window, pop the trunk latch and make a quick getaway with the  valuables. There are no places to truly hide valuables inside your vehicle.

Keep your vehicle and your property protected, remove valuables from your vehicle.

Stow It, Don’t Show It.

Auto Prowl Prevention Video PSA

Auto Theft Prevention

Auto theft is one of the most reported property crimes in our community. Let’s get our numbers down through prevention!

Auto Theft Prevention Tips

  • Take your key or fob. Never leave a spare inside your vehicle.
  • Lock Your Car.
  • Don’t ‘Hide’ A Second Set of Keys In Your Car.
  • Don’t Leave Your Car Running Unattended.
  • Don’t Leave Valuables In Your Car.
  • Use A Theft Deterrent. Steering wheel locking devices and alarms provide deterrents against thefts. For additional auto theft prevention tips from the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority visit WATPA at:

Auto Theft Prevention-Smash and Grab

Business Crime

If you own a business be sure to implement some of these crime prevention tips to help keep your business, your employees and your customers safer.

Robbery Prevention

Robbery is a crime against your person rather than against your property. If someone breaks into your home or business and takes property from the premises, the crime is called a burglary. However, if you are confronted by an individual on the street or in your home, car or business and force is used or threatened against you, you have become the victim of a robbery.

Remember two things:

  • Robbers want your money or property – and they want it quickly.
  • Robbery is a risky business and robbers are usually nervous. Don’t delay a robbery in any way and increase the potential for violence. Give the robber what he or she wants and do it quickly. Don’t risk your physical safety, or another person’s life, for property that can be replaced.


  • Good visibility allows employees to be aware of suspicious activities outside the store. It also increases the chance passersby will observe robberies taking place inside the store.
  • Keep doors and windows clear. Post any necessary signs to the side, top or bottom of the display windows to allow maximum visibility into and out of the store. This will help customers see your merchandise too.
  • Locate the cash register in a central place. Keep it in clear view of the door, with the customer’s back to the entrance. The register should be visible from the outside.
  • Keep counter displays low. This allows employees to see over the top. You can also rearrange displays to allow surveillance up and down both sides of each aisle.
  • Place wide-angle mirrors in strategic locations. This will assist with visibility in blind areas of the store.
  • Make sure interior lighting provide good visibility in the store at all times. Outdoor lighting should be even and directed toward the sides of the building, not outward where glare can create hiding places for robbers.

Building Security and Security Devices

  • Control access to the building. Keep all doors locked except the main entrance. Ask employees to use the main entrance.
  • Install a lock on the back-room door that can be unlocked from the inside. Supply this room with an extra key, a phone and a panic button. This will enable an employee to summon help if locked in during a robbery.
  • Use signs inside and outside the store to emphasize your security policy on limited cash on hand and employee inaccessibility to the safe.
  • Silent “hold-up” alarms should be considered. Alarm signaling devices can be installed on the floor and tripped by foot, wired to a money clip in the till, hidden under the counter or inside an office or freezer, among other possibilities.
  • Install a “buddy alarm” system. A simple bell or buzzer connected to the neighboring business can be an effective and inexpensive “panic” alarm. It should not be hooked to lights, for a flicker could warn the robber that an alarm has been sent. It should not be loud enough to be heard by the robber. The alarm should be activated only if there is no possibility of detection. A slight movement or sound could trigger a panicking robber into violence.
  • Consider installing a quality video camera and recorder kept high on the wall but visible. Don’t use fake cameras. Robbers know the difference. Have several cameras connected to the system, some visible, some not. Only the managers should have access to the tape.


  • Greet each customer. Establish eye contact and remember their general appearance. Good customer service discourages hesitant robbers as well as other thieves. This attention to detail conveys control and puts people on notice they have been observed and can be identified later.

Policy Considerations

  • Check references of prospective employees.
  • Keep a file on all employees, including their pictures. Past employees know store procedure and where money is kept. They sometimes share this information with others who use it to plan robberies at the store. Pictures of suspects are much more useful than verbal descriptions.
  • Re-key locks and alter safe combinations or codes when employees are dismissed for cause.
  • Establish clear and consistent policies regarding money in the till. Establish how much money will be kept in the till, what bill denominations employees will accept, how to respond to “suspicious” inquires and how to handle loiterers. All employees should be trained and given a written description of store policy. Stress that their commitment to security procedures will reduce their risk of criminal confrontation and physical harm.
  • Staff should never admit customers to premises after closing hours, particularly when the employee is alone.
  • Always maintain adequate staff levels. Be especially careful during opening and closing periods, lunch hours and holiday seasons when there is more money on the site and more distractions.
  • Store clerks should remain alert to what is going on outside their shop. Carefully observe phone booths, parked cars with people inside and loiterers in the vicinity. Many robbers like to watch and wait for the right opportunity. If a parked car containing several people has been noticed on many occasions, get the license number and a general description of the occupants. Notify the police. A discreet investigation can be made and no one embarrassed in case the situation is an innocent one. Be sure to notify the individual(s) following your shift of suspicious circumstances.

Design Considerations

  • Use gates and counters to separate clients from employees when appropriate. These devices can prevent the potential thief from gaining access to areas where cash or checks are kept or employees store personal belongings. These physical barriers aid in defining public spaces for general use.
  • Post signs to designate restricted areas. For example: “Private” or “Employees Only”.

Crime prevention is serious business and critical to the safety and security of your employees and your customers. For information on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) please contact your district Neighborhood Police Officer.

Construction Site

Construction Site Theft

Each year, nearly $1 billion of construction equipment, tools and vehicles are stolen from construction sites. Many of the items are never recovered by police. Implementing crime prevention strategies can help protect property, and in the event of a theft, can assist with identification and recovery of property.

Keeping these crime prevention tips in mind can help prevent job site theft:

  1. Put Equipment Away
    One of the easiest ways to protect your construction site is putting all your equipment away after using it and locking it inside a building or mobile storage unit before leaving the job site.
  2. Keep Records of Purchases
    Keep detailed records of every piece of equipment you’re using on the job site. These records also make it easier to file a police report and more challenging for the thief to sell the items later.
  3. Turn Off Equipment Circuit Breakers
    A thief can’t steal a large piece of equipment if they can’t start it.
  4. Cut Fuel Supplies
    Install a fuel pump kill switch in vehicles or equipment that require fuel.
  5. Install Secure Fencing
    While fencing won’t keep absolutely everyone away from the property, it does act as a deterrent and makes it more challenging for a thief to walk away with construction supplies.
  6. Lock All Vehicles
    One of the most straightforward steps you can take around the construction site is locking all vehicles, especially when they are left unattended (day or night).
  7. Hire a Security Guard
    If your project has the budget, a security company to monitor or patrol your site, especially after hours can deter or eliminate theft.
  8. Install a Security System
    If your project has the budget, installing a security system that alerts a security company whenever someone enters the site can be a great deterrent.
  9. Increase lighting and visibility
    Install ample lighting and make sure equipment and tools are not blocked by other items such as lumber, construction trailers or vehicles.

Utility Trailer Theft

Utility trailers are typically stolen or prowled when they are left unattended at job sites or on business premises. In an effort to prevent trailer thefts and prowls and theft of business equipment we are sharing some crime prevention tips related to theft of utility trailers and construction equipment.

Tips to prevent utility trailer theft:

  • Keep an updated itemized log of trailer contents (including serial numbers, values, and photos). Mark all property and equipment with the name and phone number of the business.
  • Enhance security, visibility, and lighting in places where trailers or other equipment are parked.
  • Consider having a fabricator weld the business name and phone number on the frame of the trailer near the hitch. This will require a great deal of effort for the thief to remove. If the trailer is stolen and found, this will expedite the process to return the trailer.
  • Use florescent spray paint to paint the business name and phone number in large font on the interior of the trailer. If a thief attempts to sell the trailer, florescent paint will act as a deterrent since it is hard to cover up with other paints.
  • Mark the exterior of the trailer with business decals, unique paint or other unique lettering that makes identification easy. Be sure to take photos of the trailer that can be provided to the police if the property is stolen.
  • Use anti-theft trailer equipment (i.e., wheel locks, coupler locks, active GPS tracking devices, etc.). These items are readily available online and in auto parts stores.
  • Make access to the trailer’s hitch difficult (i.e., parking another vehicle in front of the trailer, blocking it in).
  • If the trailer is left parked in a single location for a length of time, consider removing one or all of the wheels.
  • Use a quality lock to secure the trailer to a fixed object (i.e., a tree, light pole, etc.).
  • Mark all equipment with the business name, owner initials, or phone number. This makes reselling equipment more difficult.
  • Use anti-theft door locks on enclosed trailers. Making the contents inside of a trailer more difficult to access can deter thieves from prowling the trailer.
  • Park the trailer in a secure, fenced area. Posting visible surveillance cameras and signage can often deter thieves.

What to do if your property is stolen or prowled

  • Report trailer thefts and theft of any tools or equipment promptly to the police. Successful recovery of stolen equipment, to include trailers and their contents, relies upon accurate and timely reporting.
  • When purchasing used contracting equipment from a third party, do your due diligence (check for markings, purchase from reputable sources, etc.) to ensure you are not purchasing stolen equipment.

To report a non-emergency stolen trailer or other non-emergency crime in Clark County call (360) 693-3111. For trailers or equipment that is actively being stolen or prowled call 911. Do not approach the thief/prowler.

Financial Crimes

Financial scams are becoming more prevalent and can be difficult to investigate, but there are things you can do to prevent becoming a financial scam victim.

Suspects often seem very believable, making it easy to fall prey to the scam. In many cases, the suspect will call or email and pose as an official from a government agency such as law enforcement, the courts, or the IRS. They seem very knowledgeable and believable, which is all part of the scam. They may also pose as a friend, colleague, or a family member (the truth is they have accessed some type of public record and retrieved the name of a family member they claim to know), again this makes the communication seem very believable. They may tell the victim that they need to pay a fine to avoid arrest, have missed jury duty and owe a fine, or owe a tax bill and will be arrested or even deported if they don’t pay. To make the crime even more believable, the caller often uses a secondary scam called Phishing, which makes the caller ID or email appear like it’s coming from the actual government agency. Below is a link to more information on Phishing and what to look for.

Below are links related to some of the most common scams and how to prevent them. Please take time to read these and share with friends or family. The elderly are often targeted by scammers. Remember, scammers access publicly-available information to choose their targets. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a financial scam, please report it to your local law enforcement agency right away. Also, various federal agencies also take reports so be sure to follow up with the appropriate agency after making your local report.

Phishing Scams

Federal Trade Commission – Phishing

Scam Alerts

The Federal Trade Commission has many useful articles on the latest scams. Here is the link to their scam alert pages, which are updated regularly.

Federal Trade Commission – Scam Alerts

Phone Scams

Phone Scams Pose Serious Threat; Remain on IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Tax Scams

Federal Trade Commission – Phone Scams

Tech Support Scams

Federal Trade Commission – Tech Support Scams

Please stay vigilant in your crime prevention efforts and help others by sharing this information via your networks.

Online Safety

Internet Dangers

The Internet can be a place where predators lurk, waiting for their next victim and a lot of online is not appropriate for children. This content can include nudity or other sexually explicit material; hate or racist web sites; promotional material about tobacco, alcohol, or drugs; graphic violence; information about satanic or cult groups; or even recipes for making bombs and explosives at home.

Theft of personal information is also a growing problem. Be sure to check the legitimacy of a web site before giving out personal information, including your name, social-security number, address, telephone number, and credit-card numbers.

Law enforcement must always consider the possibility that any child who goes missing “may” have met up with someone they initially encountered online.

  • Many of internet-initiated cases of child sexual abuse involved children 13 through 16.
  • Very few youth who encountered a sexual solicitation told a parent

Rules For Kids Online-Parents This Is Where You Come In

  • Know what apps your child may have on their phone or tablet. Many apps are used to ‘meet’ online.
  • Discuss with your child the importance of telling you or a trusted adult if something or someone ever makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused while online.
  • Communicate with your child and react calmly if your child shares information that scares or makes you uncomfortable. This will increase their comfort level to confide in you.
  • Know what apps your child may have on their phone or tablet, including what services (parental controls and filtering options) your internet service provider (ISP) offers, chat room lingo, how to check history and what other internet access your child may have including text messaging or social apps.
  • Consider using parental controls to filter, block and monitoring software and apps.
  • Report any incidents of child sexual exploitation to the Cyber Tipline at 1-800-843-5678 and your local law enforcement agency.
  • Know who your children talk to online and what their screen name is and know their social media passwords. This is extremely important in the event your child is missing.
  • Talk to your children about what personal information is and make sure they don’t share that with anyone.
  • Remain vigilant of sites your children visit online and what apps they have downloaded onto phones or tablets.
  • Find out other places your child may have access to the Internet (school, library, friend’s house).

Online Safety Tips for Kids

  • Don’t give out or post personal information (name, address, age, school name or address, phone number, parent’s names).
  • Do NOT respond to mean, offensive, threatening or unwanted e-mail or instant messages.
  • Choose a screen name that doesn’t identify you as a boy or girl.
  • Don’t share your password with anyone but your parents (not even your best friend should know your password).
  • Remember people online MAY NOT be who they say they are. Treat people online that you don’t personally know as a stranger.

NetSmartz® is an interactive, educational safety resource from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® and Boys & Girls Clubs of America for children (ages 5-17), parents, guardians, educators, and law enforcement that uses age-appropriate, 3-D activities to teach children how to stay safer on the Internet. The NetSmartz Workshop can be accessed at and

Internet Safety for Adults

Buying and selling items such as appliances, vehicles, and electronics through online classifieds is a normal occurrence in today’s tech world, but it’s important to keep old fashioned personal safety at the top of the list.

That’s why the Vancouver Police Department and Clark County Sheriff’s Office offer their parking lots as Safe Exchange Zones as an alternative to meeting a stranger at a private residence or unfamiliar location.

The following location parking lots are designated and signed as Safe Exchange Zones:

  • Vancouver Police West Precinct (2800 NE Stapleton Rd., Vancouver, WA)
  • Vancouver Police East Precinct (512 SE 155th Ave., Vancouver, WA)

Package Theft Prevention

Be sure to consider package theft prevention strategies when ordering items online. Packages delivered while you are away from home are easy and ideal targets for thieves.

Here are some tips to help keep thieves from nabbing your deliveries:

  • Pick up packages promptly after they have been delivered.
  • Ask neighbors to receive and store your package deliveries when you are not home.
  • Consider shipping the package to a relative that will be available to receive the package.
  • Require signature delivery to avoid the package being left unattended.
  • Utilize tracking services offered by the delivery company.
  • Request specific delivery times that are suitable to when you will be home.
  • Invest in a camera system to monitor your packages and home.
  • Send packages to secure delivery, holding, or pick-up locations.
  • Many parcel delivery companies offer secure locations for packages to be delivered and stored until you are available to pick items up. There are many companies and locations throughout Vancouver that offer these services.

If you see a package theft occurring, call 911.

If you are the victim of a package theft, please call 311 to report it to police and follow up by reporting the theft to the US Postal Inspection Service by calling 1-877-876-2455 or

Warm Weather Safety

Some crime trends are seasonal. So as warm weather hangs around keep these tips in mind.


  • Always keep your car locked and never store valuables inside your vehicle.
  • Sports complexes, trail heads, and restaurant or hotel parking lots are prime places for auto prowlers to look for cars with valuables inside.
  • It only takes a second for a thief to break a window and steal an item from inside. Hiding items under the seat is the first place thieves look, please don’t store valuables in your vehicle.


  • Always lock and secure all doors and windows.
  • During hot weather it’s tempting to leave the windows open to let in air, but it’s often an open invitation for a thief to break in.
  • It only takes a second to remove or cut a screen and then access your home through the open window.
  • At night, use dowels in windows if you must sleep with a window open a bit; this is especially important in children’s rooms. Some criminals are not afraid to enter an occupied home and not all of them are there to steal.

Yard work safety:

Yard work season is a great time for thieves to really clean up.

  • Keep garage doors down and locked. Open garage doors are an invitation for a thief to steal tools, bikes or other valuables, or to access the house through the garage.
  • Keep gates locked. A thief may enter the back yard unnoticed and access the home from the back door through an open or unlocked gate.
  • Keep sheds and outbuildings locked and secure as well.

Vacation safety:

  • Let a trusted neighbor know so they can keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
  • Have mail and newspapers held so they don’t pile up.
  • Wait until you are back to post your great vacation photos on social media. Criminals check social media and can take that opportunity to burglarize your home while they know you are on vacation.