Safety and Preparedness : Crime Prevention Tips

University Police Department continually seeks to provide the campus community with tips to promote safety and deter crime. Visit the following links to obtain additional crime prevention and safety information.

Around USF St. Petersburg

  • Be observant. Make sure that you are aware of your environment. It is advisable that you familiarize yourself with campus buildings and landmarks.
  • Avoid taking shortcuts through alleys or isolated areas.
  • Know the route to your destination.
  • Stay in populated areas of campus buildings.
  • Do no talk on your cell phone or listen to IPod, etc. – anything that distracts your attention.
  • After dark, walk in well lighted areas of campus and the surrounding area.
  • Walk in groups. There is safety in numbers.
  • Try to “travel light” around campus. Carry all your belongings in one bag. Numerous backpacks, purses, cases, umbrellas and boxes weigh you down.
  • Do not look like a “victim.”  Walk with purpose and display confidence.
  • Keep your head up and don’t be afraid to make eye contact with people.
  • Never leave property unattended in any campus building or in your car.
  • If you need to step out for a bathroom break or to get a snack, leave your property with someone you trust or take it with you.
  • Park your car in well lighted areas where there is a high volume of traffic.
  • If you use a cell phone, radar detector, or CD player in the car, conceal them or take them with you. If it uses a lighter jack, hide the jack out of site and REPLACE THE LIGHTER PLUG.
  • Keep anything of even minimal value, in the trunk, if you do not take it with you.
  • If you see any suspicious activity or person, call USFSP POLICE at 873-4140.

Personal Safety

  • Have a plan and be prepared to use it.
  • Trusting your instincts and avoiding dangerous situations can prevent many problems.
  • Be constantly mindful of persons around you. Keep your head up and your eyes moving.
  • Always know your location and where you can find help. Become comfortable in your surroundings, but do not become lax in your approach to personal safety.
  • Walk close to curbs and away from doors and bushes.
  • Walk with confidence.
  • Carry a shoulder-strap purse so that it hangs straight down from your shoulder, suspended between your arm and body.
  • Carry handbags tucked under your arm, with any flaps facing your body.
  • Always check your vehicle before entering. As you approach the vehicle from a distance, remember to look beneath it in case any predator is laying in wait.
  • Have your keys in hand as you approach your car, office, or house.
  • If you think you are being followed, stay on busy streets.  If you have any doubts, drive to a police station, fire house, well lighted gas station or public place.
  • Avoid secluded/private places. A criminals’ best weapon is anonymity. Denying privacy is your best defense.
  • Choose a well-lit ATM, and have someone with you when using the machine at night. The best time to get your money is in the morning. Plan ahead so you can avoid having to use an ATM at odd hours.
  • Avoid drive-up ATM machines. Many of these ATMs are positioned so that the machine is between you and passing traffic. They are usually in the rear of the bank parking area, away from the road. This provides excellent “cover” for criminals.

Commuting Safely

  • Before leaving for school or work, plan your route. Select the safest route available. Routes that are well lighted and well traveled are always better than desolate paths.
  • Always have a backup plan. Plan a secondary route to travel in case there is a major accident or construction tie-up on your usual route.
  • Carpool if possible.
  • Always keep your vehicle well maintained. Have a reputable mechanic tune-up your vehicle regularly and fix anything needing repair.
  • Make sure you have a functional jack and carry a road safety kit with you. Flares, small cones and other brightly colored devices are helpful in creating a safety zone in which you work.
  • If you are stranded, do not leave your car. You are safer waiting for help than you are going to look for it. Police do not recommend going for help unless you can see it. If you must go, stay on the road, where it is more populated.
  • If someone stops to ask you if you need help, ask them to go and call the police for you.
  • If you commute, consider a cell phone. It is the best safety device you can have in the event of an accident or breakdown.
  • If you are stopped in traffic, watch out for people approaching your car.
  • Always keep the windows of your vehicle rolled up and doors locked.
  • At stop lights and other traffic delays, leave enough space in front of your vehicle so that you have an escape option in case of an emergency.
  • Maintain at least a half a tank of fuel.
  • Always get gas earlier in the day, preferably in the morning. There is high visibility during rush hour traffic.
  • Always stop at well lighted, best attended gas station for fuel, coffee, or snacks. Fill your tank in view of the attendant on duty.

Public Transportation

  • Avoid isolated bus stops.
  • Always use highly visible and well lighted bus stops.
  • Stand right at the curb while waiting for your bus. Remain in the best line of sight for passing traffic.
  • Have the correct change ready.
  • Do not carry or display items of value.
  • Sit as close to the bus driver as you can. Refrain from ever sitting behind the rear door on a bus if at all possible. Rear doors make a quick and easy get away for criminals.
  • Do not place your purse or briefcase on the floor.
  • Do not fall asleep.
  • Know your stop.

Vehicle Crime Prevention

  • One of the most important factors in deterring auto crimes is being selective in where you park your car. Park in well lighted and well populated areas.
  • Lock your car. This may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people that forget.
  • Traffic flow is also important. You want to park your car in the areas with high vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
  • Car alarms, can be useful, but are sometimes ignored.
  • Install a kill switch and use a club-type device to protect your car, in addition to your alarm.
  • Steering column sleeves are helpful in preventing car theft where cracking the column is necessary.
  • Avoid heavily tinted windows. Tinted windows provide extra coverage for thieves who break into cars to steal radios, air bags, or the car itself.
  • Keep you car free of ALL items. Clothes, bags, boxes, sporting equipment and other items frequently left in cars, attract a thief’s attention.
  • Thieves will break into a car to look into boxes or bags in order to see if they contain anything of value.
  • Have your vehicle identification number etched in your car’s glass. This helps deter theft. Re-tagging a stolen vehicle is too expensive if all the windows need to be replaced.
  • Any one of the above methods is no guarantee that your car will never be stolen or broken into. However, using as many of these devices as possible deters a “car shopper” and they are more likely to pass up your veh

Holiday Safety Tips

The holiday season is a special time of year.  This is when busy people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other crime.  Please exercise care and caution during this season.  Remember, a holiday is not the only time to be safe.

WHILE SHOPPING

  • Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible.  Coordinate shopping trips with a friend or family member if you plan to be out late.
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lighted area.
  • Lock your vehicle and close the windows even if you are going to be out for a few minutes.  Place all bags, packages and gifts out of sight.  Have your key in hand when you return.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages.
  • Look inside and under your vehicle before entering.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  Pay for your purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
  • Don’t park next to a van or truck where people can hide.

HOLIDAY TRAVELING:

  • Have good locks on all doors and windows and use them.
  • Arrange for a friend or neighbor to bring in mail and newspapers.  If this isn’t possible, cancel delivery.
  • Arrange to have your lawn cut as required during your absence.
  • Plug in timers to turn on lights, a radio or television on and off at appropriate times.
  • Leave an itinerary with a family member of trusted neighbor, so that you can be notified in case of an emergency.
  • Inform your local police you plan to be away.  Patrol officers may have the opportunity to periodically check your home.
  • Use travelers checks while traveling and keep extra checks secured.
  • Take a photocopy of all your identification and credit cards in case you lose something.  You will be able to identify yourself if needed and also have a copy of all your important documents and numbers.
  • Make sure your accommodations are safe and clean. Use all the security features provided to you.

TRAVEL SAFELY

  • If you are driving, make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in suitable condition for the journey.
  • If traveling out-of-state, most state law enforcement agencies provide road-and-highway information; check on the conditions before leaving.
  • Always keep the windows of your vehicle rolled up and doors locked.
  • If you think you are being followed, stay on busy streets.  If you have any doubts, drive to a police station, fire house, gas station or public place.
  • At stop lights and other traffic delays, leave enough space in front of your vehicle so that you have an escape option in case of an emergency.
  • Maintain at least a half a tank of fuel.
  • Carry a road safety kit.
  • Invest in a road service membership.
  • A cellular phone can be of great assistance in an emergency situation.
  • Keep valuables out of sight.

ATMs and ATM CARD CHECKLIST:

  • Choose a well-lit ATM, and have someone with you when using the machine at night.
  • Stand back to allow privacy if someone else is using the machine.
  • Be ready.  Have your card handy but not necessarily in plain view.
  • Stand directly in front of the machine so that no one can see you enter your PIN.
  • Try to position yourself so that you are still aware of people around and near you.  Do not put the focus of your attention solely on the machine.
  • Cancel your transaction and if anything or anyone seems suspicious while you’re using the ATM.
  • Pocket your cash immediately and count it later.  If followed after leaving an ATM, go to a public area around people.
  • When using a drive-up ATM, remember to always keep your doors locked, all other windows up and the vehicle running.
  • Don’t flash your ATM card.  Safeguard it as you would money or other valuables.  If you lose your ATM card, report it immediately to your financial institution.
  • Don’t keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) in your wallet or with your ATM card.  It should be memorized upon receiving it and then destroyed.

WHILE AT HOME:

  • Always lock your doors and windows.  Insure that sliding glass doors cannot be lifted out and that a safety bar is installed.
  • Check who is at the door before opening it, and do not open the door to an unexpected visitor.
  • Ask for photo identification of all repair persons, etc. If you are still suspicious, call to verify employment.
  • Dispose of boxes, packages materials, and wrapping paper properly.  Remove your name and shipping labels from boxes and packages.
  • Do not leave valuables in open sight.
  • Update or create a home inventory.  Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers.
  • Engrave your property with your driver’s license number.
  • Beware of “bargains” offered by someone other than a reputable retailer.
  • Know whom you are giving your credit card number over the phone.

Home Safety

  • Have good locks on all doors and windows.
  • ALWAYS lock your windows and doors when you are away from your residence. Even if you are just stepping out for a quick errand.
  • Do not hide spare keys on your property.
  • Doors should be sturdy.  If they are not, they should be reinforced or replaced with solid core wood or metal doors.
  • Every exterior door should be equipped with a dead bolt lock that has a minimum bolt throw of 1 inch.
  • Remove the screws in your strike plates and install others that are a minimum of three inches long.
  • On sliding glass door walls, use a wooden dowel as a means of bolstering the door lock. Laying the dowel in the track near the bottom of the sliding section will prohibit sliding the door open in the event the door lock is compromised.
  • Peepholes-ideally with wide-angle viewing of 180 degrees lenses should be installed in all solid, exterior doors.
  • Use timers on lights and stagger the pattern of lighting. Be creative and light different rooms at different times.
  • Install exterior lighting and insure it is evenly distributed and does not create deep shadows. Landscaping lights can be functional and decorative, if properly spaced and directed.
  • Make sure bushes or trees do not obscure windows or doors. Over grown landscaping can provide excellent coverage for potential burglars.
  • Many burglaries occur through second story windows or patios. Make sure that any trellises or trees do not provide access to upper levels.
  • Engrave your property with your driver’s license number.  Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers.
  • If you find your house has been burglarized, DO NOT enter until the police have secured the premises.

Work Areas

  • Lock your office door whenever you leave, even if you’re going out for a minute.
  • Don’t be predictable. Most people keep their purse in the bottom right drawer of the desk or on the hook behind the door.
  • Protect wallets, keys, purses and other personal valuables on the job.
  • Maintain a current inventory of all valuable personal and campus property.  Include make, model, size, color, serial number and USF number.
  • Consider etching your driver’s license number on your personal items of value.
  • When approaching your office, look for anything out of the ordinary.
  • If the door to your office is damaged, do not enter and call the University Police from a safe location.
  • Keep office doors locked when working alone, on weekends or after normal hours.
  • Be aware of any suspicious persons roaming your area. If someone enters your area of work immediately ask them what they are doing or who they are looking for. Ask them firmly, yet professionally if you can be of any assistance.
  • Know the location of fire alarms and emergency exits.
  • When a fire alarm sounds, leave the building immediately and report to the appropriate location.  Don’t wait to see if the alarm is false or malfunctioning.
  • Notify the University Police at ext. 3-4140 of any emergency, criminal activity, suspicious conditions or suspicious persons