Omaha Police Safety Reminders

In light of the recent violence in Omaha, the Police Department's Public Information Office wants to remind people of the best ways to stay aware of your surroundings and become a less attractive target to criminals.

Some people have taken to arm themselves because of the violence. People applying to buy a handgun with the Douglas County Sheriff has skyrocketed. Here are the numbers for the 8 days after the election for 2007 and 2008.

November 2007 = 57 Permits
November 2008 = 176 Permits

It's a 300% increase.

Experts give two reasons for the boost -- fear that a new Presidential administration may put restrictions on the 2nd amendment -- and protection from the latest round of violence.

"What's this town coming to?" said Michael Lane who was walking in Dundee Friday afternoon. Many people are open about how their concern for personal safety has increased in the past couple of days.

"I carry my pepper spray with me," said college student Marie Schellenberger. "At school, they handed out a whistle with a light on it. I put that on my key chain. I keep that when I'm walking home."

Here's the personal safety advice from the Omaha Police Department:

Automatic Teller Machine Safety
- Plan ahead and get your cash during daylight hours
- Avoid isolated ATM machines, use ATM machines that are very visible and well lit

Park Smart
- Park and walk in well lit, busy areas
- Stay away from over-grown bushes and trees
- Use valet parking or an attended garage if you are alone
- Pay attention to your surroundings, people and vehicles while walking to and from car
- Do not approach situations that do not feel safe
- Walk with confidence
- Do not overload yourself with packages
- Carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in your front pocket
- Do not be distracted by talking on a cell phone or wearing headphones
- Help others by reporting suspicious people to the police or security staff
- Ask security to escort you if you feel uneasy
- Have your keys in your hand and alarm panic button ready to activate
- Look into the vehicle and check for intruders before entering
- Continuously scan the area while loading children and packages
- Teach your children to enter and exit the vehicle quickly
- Roll up the windows and lock your doors as soon you get in the car
- Make it a habit to always start your vehicle and drive away immediately

Shop Smart
- Never display or "flash" your cash or valuable personal items.
- If possible, don’t leave valuables (cell phones, electronics, GPS devices, jewelry, etc.) in car….put them in the trunk if necessary
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry while shopping or keep it to a minimum
- Keep the amount of cash that you carry to a minimum…use credit cards.
- Carry only one major credit card…if your wallet is stolen, you only have one card to report.
- Carry cash in an unusual place instead of your purse or wallet.

Stranger Reaction
- Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason
- Do not be afraid to tell subjects to back off, scream for help, activate your car alarm
- If you suspect that you are being followed, switch directions and immediately go to a well-lit area crowded with people
- If someone in a vehicle asks for directions ignore them or answer from a distance and keep walking – do not approach the vehicle

Victim Advice
- Be the best witness you can be by taking note of the suspect’s clothing, physical description and vehicle description
- Never put yourself in harm’s way and remember that property can be replaced
- Keep records of credit card numbers and contact information in an easily accessible place and immediately report them if stolen.
- Call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information. Your actions can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.

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