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Street smart safety tips to avoid being a target for criminals

UCPD recommends the following tips and precautions for UCOP staff to stay safe and protect yourself and your belongings, whether you are at or near the office or wherever you may be:

Stay off your cellphone when you’re on the street. Texting or talking on your cellphone makes you a target for criminals in two ways: You’re distracted rather than being aware of any danger around you, and you have shown thieves that you have something worth stealing.

Be aware of people near you or following closely. Go the other way or cross the street immediately. Report suspicious behavior to building security or 911, or to the driver if you are on public transit.

Take only well-traveled, well-lit routes when walking. Don’t use shortcuts through alleys or walkways between buildings.

Park your car in a garage or on a well-lit street. Before entering or exiting your car, always check before opening the door to make sure no one suspicious is waiting for you, either inside or outside the car.  If available (or needed to do so), consider pressing the red panic button on your vehicle key remote to deter criminals or to summon help.

Keep your belongings somewhere secure. Don’t leave your belongings unattended or out in the open where they can easily be stolen, whether you are in the office, a cafe, restaurant or other location. Lock your belongings in the trunk of your car before you arrive at your destination. Thieves watch for people who lock up valuables after they park and then break in once the driver walks away. And never leave valuable items in a visible location in your car!

Be cautious when using ATMs.  Always consider the time of day and location and use an inside ATM if possible. Shield the keypad with your body when entering your PIN. Never walk away with cash in your hand and never count your money on the street or in public view.

Be alert in crowded places. Thieves’ favorite places are revolving doors, crowded stores, elevators, public transportation and transit stops at rush hour. They often work in pairs; one will bump into you while another picks your pocket or purse.

Carry bags, purses and packages in front of rather than behind you. Zipped bags and purses that you can wear cross-body (rather than on one shoulder) are harder for thieves to snatch away or get their hands into. Keep your wallet or phone in a front pocket or other location that’s more difficult for a pickpocket to access.  Don’t advertise that you are carrying valuables to be stolen; a laptop bag advertises that a computer is inside.  Consider a non-descript messenger bag or backpack.

Use caution in public restrooms. Never leave your packages, coat, briefcase or purse outside the stall. If you use a hook or shelf in a stall, make certain someone can’t reach over and take your belongings.

Report incidents quickly. If you are a victim of a crime or observe any suspicious behavior, immediately call for help so that police can find the suspect while still in the area. If using a landline, dial 911 (9-911 from an office desk phone). If using a cellphone, call Oakland Police at 510-777-3211 for emergencies (crime in progress or suspect nearby) or 510-777-3333 for non-emergencies. Store these numbers in your cellphone for quick dialing.

Ask for extra protection. If you work in Oakland and would like to be accompanied to your car, UCOP security is available from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and can be reached at 510-987-9700. In addition, security escorts are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. as part of the city of Oakland’s Block to Block Ambassador Service. You can reach this service directly by calling 510-898-8592 or you can call UCOP Security at 510-987-9700 and ask that they contact them. In either case, you will need to call at least one hour ahead. A roving UCPD security officer also patrols the perimeters of all UCOP buildings in Oakland from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.


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