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Click on Blog Topics to go directly to that section:

Holiday Crime Prevention

Avoiding Scams

Back to School

Auto-Burgulary Prevenation Tips

Community Pride

Halloween

Stopped By A Deputy

Victim’s Rights

Identity Theft

Holiday Crime Prevention

As the old Holiday song goes, December is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Unfortunately, this is also the time to be more vigilant of potential criminals. Criminals may take advantage of the extra shopping you do, the hustle and bustle of malls and town centers, and of your generosity toward charity. Following these crime prevention tips can help make your holidays safer and more enjoyable.When You’re Out Shopping  

$Beware of pickpockets who have more opportunities to steal from you in crowded shops and malls.

$ Try to shop during less busy times (the earlier in the month, the better).

$ Be extra alert and hold onto your bags. Ladies should strap their purses around their upper body rather than just over their shoulders.

$ Try to keep credit cards and cash in your front pockets.

$ Try smaller shopping trips rather than doing it all at once.

$ If you travel by car, make sure you park in a well- lit area, lock all doors and windows, and NEVER leave presents in view.

When You’re At Home

Having bought all those wonderful presents, don’t make it easy for someone to steal from your home.

$ Keep presents out of sight until it is time to give them away. If you ‘hide’ or store larger items such as bicycles outside or in the garage, make sure they are very secure and out of sight.

$ Record the serial numbers for any new bicycles and new electrical equipment for future reference. Remember, empty boxes left outside let everyone know you have new goods inside – dispose of packing carefully.

If you go out for the evening

Make it look like someone is at home by turning on lights and the radio. Don’t leave curtains open so people can see your decorations as potential thieves can see in. Be extra careful about locking doors and windows.

If you go away for the holiday season

Use an automatic timer for lights and ask a trusted neighbor to watch your home. Don’t forget to suspend your mail and newspaper delivery or ask a trusted neighbor to pick these up for you – unopened Christmas cards and mail are a sure sign that a house is empty.

Strangers at the door

Genuine delivery personnel have uniforms and marked vehicles and should not need to come inside your home. Charity collectors will have identification and will not be offended if you ask to see it.

If you go to a holiday party

The most important advice when celebrating the holidays is to never drink and drive. Always designate a driver in case you’ve had too much to drink.

And NEVER shoot a firearm into the air. That bullet has to land somewhere. Avoid a tragedy and leave the gun locked up. Following these common sense tips will help you and your family have an enjoyable holiday season.

Avoiding Scams

Friends,It is unfortunate that I have to warn you of potential scams during these times when people are losing their homes, and two fire fighters losing their lives, but certain people use these situations to take advantage of others. 

Please be extra cautious if you receive a phone call requesting donations for fire victims. A good tip is if they call you, don’t give any of your personal information.

If you would like to donate, there a large number of charitable organizations whom you can contact to donate money or goods.

These tips from the Attorney General’s Office offer the best advice:

— Stick with charities that are reputable rather than those that spring up overnight. If you are unsure, check to see if the charity is registered in California with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. Registration does not guarantee legitimacy, but it is an important indicator. A searchable database is available at http://ag.ca.gov/charities.php. Information on national charities is available from the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at 800-575-4483 or www.give.org. —

—- Don’t give through email solicitations. Clicking on an email may lead you to a site that looks real but is established by identity thieves seeking to obtain money or personal information.—

—- Do not be pressured into giving. Even in times of emergency, reputable organizations do not expect you to contribute immediately if you are unfamiliar with their services. Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion but short on details about how the charity will help disaster victims. —

—Californians who believe they or others have been victimized by fraudulent charitable solicitation can file a complaint online with the Attorney General’s Registrar of Charitable Trusts at http://ag.ca.gov/charities.php. —

Please feel free to pass this information on to co-workers, family, and friends.

Also, please keep in mind the many firefighters and peace officers who have been deployed to these wildfires. I have several partners who have already worked over 40 hours in the past 3 days alone.

Back to School

It’s that time again when parents prepare to send their kids back to school. And while you prepare, we also ask that you take time to remember a few safety tips for you and your children.The first few weeks of school can be very hectic. More cars and pedestrians on the street mean more traffic and longer delays. The best advice is to start your day off earlier and account for the extra traffic. If you’re ever late, the worst thing you can do is rush. Most important, make sure you obey all traffic laws, especially those dealing with school crossing areas. Here are a few tips to help keep you and your children safe: 

Remember to obey all traffic laws.

Do not jaywalk, cross the street in between cars, or run or ride your bike/skateboard on the sidewalk. Use the crosswalk at all times.

If possible, students should not walk alone. Try and use the “buddy system” and walk with a friend.

Parents – Do not leave your car running and unattended, especially in the red zone.

Be a courteous driver. That means allowing school children to cross at intersections.

Do not pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing.

All residential streets and school areas have a 25 mph speed zone. Slow down and be safe.

Don’t forget to wear your sealtbelt. All children younger than 6 or weighing less than 60 pounds need to be restrained in a booster seat or car seat of some kind.

Hang up the cell phone while driving.

OBEY THE CROSSING GUARDS AT ALL TIMES. Our crossing guards are there to protect your children. Failure to obey a crossing guard, or to drive through a crosswalk when there are pedestrians present is a very serious and very expensive offense. The Sheriff’s Department will be conducting extra traffic patrols at the start of the school season. Please be safe and courteous and take care of your children. Have a great school year and stay safe.

Auto-Burgulary Prevention Tips

Recently, the city has experienced a rash of vehicle burglaries. Most of the items taken have been car stereos, but other items such as packages and GPS units have been specifically targeted. The following tips may help make your car safer and less attractive to criminals.The first thing to do is to report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood. The Sheriff’s Department cannot be in all places at once, so we need your help. If you see someone walking up and down the street looking into parked cars or carrying a screwdriver or other tool, report it right away to the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station at (562) 623-3500. You can remain anonymous, but please give a brief description of what the person is wearing and the direction he or she is headed. 

Second, NEVER leave valuables in your car – particularly not in plain sight!

Don’t leave valuables in your car. That sounds like “common sense,” but car owners do leave items of value in plain view every day. If you leave valuable items visible in your car, your car is automatically a target. If you must leave valuable items in your car while out and about, place the items out of sight before reaching your destination. This includes packages, backpacks, gym bags, GPS units, MP3 players, and so forth. Someone may be watching when you put items under a seat or throw something over them. An opportunistic thief is on the lookout for trunk-packing, and can break into your car the minute you’re out of sight.

If you can’t take them with you, at least lock the items in your glove compartment (if capable of locking and large enough) or your trunk (if you have one). One reason SUVs and pickups are common auto-burglary targets is because they don’t have a “trunk” to hold valuables. The thieves know this, and do check glove compartments, behind seats, and under seats. It only takes a few seconds to check all the “usual” hiding places. And most importantly, ALWAYS lock your car. The extra 30 seconds it takes to secure your car is definitely worth saving you the money and hassle of a car break-in.

Always make your property less attractive for a thief. Criminals will always pick the fastest and easiest target. Do what you can to make it more difficult for them. If you are the unfortunate victim of a car break-in, call the Sheriff’s Department for a crime report. This is especially helpful if you need to make an insurance claim. You can also stop by the Safety Center on Monday through Friday, between 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.

Community Pride

Imagine seeing this headline in a newspaper: “MAN WITH NO TEETH BITES THREE LEGGED DOG!” Is it believable? Sometimes, you can never tell. Recently, the city of Hawaiian Gardens has been the victim of sensational headlines in the media. Residents have been using terms such as “raids” to describe the recent law enforcement action in the city. The truth is, the operation which took place on May 21, 2009, was not isolated to the city of Hawaiian Gardens. This operation took place in four counties with 1,400 law enforcement agents and 100 or so suspects who were arrested also spread out over four counties. So don’t get caught up in the hype. If you were present at the last Neighborhood Watch & Crime Prevention meeting on June 3, 2009, you would have heard more correct information about what took place on that day. I want to assure everyone the city and the Sheriff’s Department are committed to providing a safe environment for the residents of Hawaiian Gardens. Be careful who or what you listen to. Chances are, you are only getting one side of the story which may not be correct at all. The truth is, we want everyone to take pride in the city. You should be proud to live in a city with great resources, a supportive city government, and a community with the lowest crime rate in the area. Crimes against persons (murder, rape, assaults, and robbery) are down 25%, and crimes against property (thefts, burglaries, arsons) are down 32% from this same period one year. In all, crime is DOWN almost 31% compared to this same time last year. Now that’s something to be proud of. As always, our Crime Prevention meetings are held the first Wednesday of every month at the Safety Center on the 2nd floor. This is a meeting meant for positive comments, honest answers, and community support.

Halloween

Halloween may be a fun holiday for kids, but for parents, trick-or treat time can be a little troublesome. Concerns about children’s safety can cause any parent to worry. With witches, goblins, and super-heroes descending on our community during Halloween, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department offers parents some safety tips to help prepare your children for a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treat holiday this October. Following these safety tips will make your holiday a more enjoyable one. The Sheriff’s Department hopes you have a safe and happy Halloween.Tips for those staying home:  

-Welcome trick-or-treaters at home by turning on your exterior lights.

-Remove objects or animals from your yard that might present a hazard, especially for small children.

-Drive slowly

-Report any suspicious or criminal activity to the Sheriff’s Department

Tips for parents and kids going out:

-Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.

-Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars

-Do not hide or cross the street between parked cars.

-Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. You can also put reflective tape on your costumes.

-Plan your route and share it with your family. It is always best to have an adult go with you.

-Carry a flashlight to light your way.

-Keep away from open fires and candles. (Costumes can be extremely flammable.)

-Visit homes that have the porch light on.

-Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger’s house.

-Try to use face paint instead of masks or things that will cover your eyes.

-Be careful of animals and strangers.

-Parents set a time limit for your children to trick-or-treat. Remember that unaccompanied minors cannot be out after 10:00 PM

-Get your kids to trick-or-treat while it is still light out.

-Not everyone celebrates Halloween, so be respectful if a home does not participate in trick-or-treat

Tips for after trick-or-treating is done:

-Tell kids to wait to eat their treats until they get home

-Have a grown-up inspect treats before eating.

-Don’t eat candy if the package is already opened. Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children

-Don’t let kids eat everything at once or else their tummy will be the one giving them the scare.

Following these common sense tips can help make this holiday a happy and safe one. Happy Halloween.

Stopped By A Deputy

As part of our monthly crime prevention news series, the Lakewood Sheriff’s Department will offer a public safety message to the residents of Hawaiian Gardens. This month’s topic is, “What to do if you are stopped by a Deputy Sheriff.”Being stopped by a deputy sheriff or any other law enforcement officer can be uncomfortable. Deputies share your feelings. More than half the California peace officers killed in the line of duty were conducting pedestrian or traffic stops. Our biggest concern is safety, both yours and ours. Below is an example of the dangers deputies face every day while conducting traffic stops. 

On April 29, 2002, Deputy March initiated a traffic stop in Irwindale. The driver of the vehicle exited his car and met the deputy halfway between the patrol car and his vehicle. A confrontation ensued between the deputy and the suspect. The suspect produced a handgun and fired at the deputy several times striking him in the upper torso killing him. The suspect was ultimately captured and is serving a life sentence.

As you can see from this tragic example, there are no “routine” traffic stops. All stops carry with them some degree of risk. So it’s up to all of us to be safe. There are several reasons why deputies make traffic stops. Ask yourself…

• Did I commit a traffic violation? Ran a red light, expired registration, broken tail light

• Do I match the description of someone wanted for a crime?

• Does my vehicle look like one that was used to commit a crime?

• Is my vehicle safe? Cracked windshield, deflated tires

• Did I witness a crime?

• Do I need help?

There are some things you need to know before being stopped by a deputy sheriff. Red lights and/or a siren mean pull over to the right where it is safe. Do not take it upon yourself to choose where to stop. If you hear the deputy tell you to stop over the loud speaker, then please, STOP. If it is dark, the deputy will use a bright spotlight or flashlight to illuminate you and the inside of your car.

California law requires all drivers to show their license, registration, and proof of insurance when asked for by a peace officer. Wait until the deputy asks you for your paperwork before you reach into the center console or glove compartment.

The US Supreme Court states it is reasonable and legal for a deputy to ask you and your passengers to exit the car. According to state law, if you refuse to sign a citation (ticket), you may be arrested. Remember that a citation is not an admission of guilt. It is a promise to appear in court.

Here are some things you should do when stopped by a deputy…

• Remain in your vehicle and follow the deputy’s instructions

• Keep your hands where the deputy can see them.

• Avoid any sudden movements such as reaching down. Do not reach for your license or registration until asked to do so by the deputy.

• Ask any passengers in your car to remain calm and comply with the deputy’s instructions.

• Sign the citation if you receive one (this does not mean you are guilty; it is a promise that you will appear in court at a later time).

If you feel you were unjustly treated, please talk to us. You can call the Lakewood Station Watch Commander for any questions regarding the deputy who stopped you. You can call the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station at 562-623-3500. You can also contact us by mail (5130 Clark Av., Lakewood, CA 90712). Watch commanders may discuss a deputy’s conduct, but cannot adjudicate or dismiss citations. Only a judge has that authority.

Please remember to drive safely and always wear a seatbelt.

Victim’s Rights

As part of our Public Safety series, every month the Sheriff’s Department will offer a public safety message to the residents of Hawaiian Gardens.Did you know that if you are the victim of a crime, you have certain rights and you may be entitled to compensation? Victims of crime and the families of homicide victims have the right to: 

• Know the current status of your court case.

• Be assisted if called as a witness.

• Attend all sentencing proceedings.

• Speak in person; address the court in writing; or be represented by an attorney at the time of felony sentencing to express your views concerning the defendant, the crime, and its effects on you and your family.

• Have the court order restitution from the convicted person.

• Request the Board of Prison Terms to provide notice of any hearing to review or consider parole eligibility or parole-setting for prisoner(s) in your case. You must keep the Board of Prison Terms informed of your current address if you wish to be notified.

• Speak personally; submit a letter, tape recording or video tape; or send an attorney to the parole hearing to express your views about the crime and the person responsible.

How do you know if you are eligible to receive benefits and assistance? The following categories describe persons who are eligible for victim’s assistance:

• The victim of the crime who suffers physical and/or emotional injury or a survivor of a person who dies as a direct result of the crime.

• Anyone legally dependant upon the victim for support.

• Anyone who was present during the crime and who has a close relationship with the victim.

• Anyone who must receive psychological treatment as a result of the crime or who should be included in the psychological treatment of the victim.

• Anyone who takes legal responsibility and/or pays for a victim’s medical or burial expenses. In order to qualify for benefits, you must do the following:

• The crime must be reported to law enforcement.

• The victim must cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of any known suspects.

• The victim must not have contributed to the events which led up to the crime.

• Victim-Witness Assistance Program staff can assist victims in filing Victims of Crime

Compensation claims and can also provide information about other methods of loss recovery. If you feel you are entitled to victim’s compensation, please contact Donna Burns. Donna is a Victims Services Representative working out of Lakewood Sheriff’s Station. You can call her at (562) 623-3666.

For more information, visit the LA County District Attorney’s Office website at www.lacountyda.org and click on the “Working with Communities” link.

Identity Theft

CRIME PREVENTION TIPS FROM THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENTAs part of our series, every month the Sheriff’s Department will offer a public safety message to the residents of Hawaiian Gardens. As part of our ongoing efforts to educate the public about crime here is another public safety message. This month’s topic is Identity Theft. 

The crime of identity theft is covered in Penal Code Section 530.5(a). It states that identity theft is the unlawful use of personal information of another to obtain credit, goods, services, or medical information without the consent of that person. Sometimes identity theft can be difficult to prevent because oftentimes it is not detected until after the crime has been committed. Most people discover they have been a victim of identity theft AFTER they receive the bill or statement. Sometimes, the damage has already been done to their credit.

Here are some tips of how to protect yourself from identity thieves:

• When using a bank card, cover the key pad with your hand to prevent others from seeing your secret code or PIN.

• Use a shredder to destroy any paperwork that has your account numbers or social security number on it, especially those offers in the mail for free credit cards.

• NEVER give out your social security card or driver’s license unless you are sure who you are giving it to. Do not give it out over the phone unless you are the person who initiated the call and you feel safe doing so.

• When ordering checks, ask your bank if you can order them just with your initials rather than your first name. In this way, thieves will not know how you sign your name.

• Photocopy identification cards, credit cards, etc. in your wallet or purse and keep it at home in a safe place. If you lose your wallet or purse, you now have the information you need to report your items lost or stolen.

Here is what to do if you become a victim of identity theft:

• Call the Sheriff’s Department to make a crime report. You need to have some evidence of the crime such as a bill or collections statement to give to the deputy taking the report.

• Call the Credit Bureaus immediately to report the identity theft (see phone numbers below). They will flag your accounts to prevent further misuse of your identity.

• Call your Creditors. These are the banks and institutions who issue you the credit cards and accounts.

• If you have had checks stolen or false accounts opened in your name, report it to the bank immediately, even if it is not your bank. Place stop payments on checks that were stolen from your account.

• If your ATM card has been lost or stolen, immediately call to get a new card and change your password or secret code number.

• Call the Social Security Administration if you believe your social security number is being used by someone else.

• If you are the victim of credit fraud or have been denied credit, you are entitled to a free credit report from one or all of the credit reporting bureaus.

Please note the investigation of identity theft is handled by the police agency where it occurred. For example, I live in Hawaiian Gardens, but my credit card was used in Downey. Downey Police Department is responsible for investigating the crime; however, you can still call the Sheriff’s Department from Lakewood Sheriff’s station to take a crime report. The Sheriff’s Department will forward the report and any information to the Downey Police Department. This is especially helpful in those instances where the crime or illegal transaction occurred out of state. Just remember to please have a copy of the statement, bill, or collections notice that shows someone illegally used your personal information.

Call the following to report identity theft:

• Lakewood Sheriff’s Department, Serving the City of Hawaiian Gardens: (562) 623-3500

• Equifax Credit Bureau: (800) 290-8749

• Experian Credit Bureau: (800) 301-7195

• Trans Union Credit Bureau: (800) 680-7289

• Social Security Administration for this area: 4957 Paramount Bl., Paramount, CA.

(800) 772-1213 or check online at www.ssa.gov

• Department of Motor Vehicles for this area: 9520 Artesia Bl., Bellflower, CA.

(800) 777-0133