City of Aiken Crime Prevention Tips
Many Aikenites are concerned about crime and the safety of their families and neighborhoods. There are many steps that you can take to help keep yourself, your family and your community safe. Aiken Public Safety is a great resource for crime prevention as well as fire prevention tips. Public Safety also partners with other state, local and federal agencies to ensure they are keeping up with the most recent information regarding crime prevention, emergency preparedness and Terrorism Awareness.
If you witness a crime or a fire, call 911. DO NOT APPROACH a suspicious stranger or try to take matters into your own hands. Call us! You might be putting yourself in jeopardy and protecting your safety is our sworn duty.
Any questions about fire or crime prevention or other safety topics can be made by calling the Aiken Public Safety non-emergency number at 803-642-7620.
Crime Prevention - Prevent Identity Theft and Scams
Protect yourselves and loved ones from identity theft and other scams by constantly safeguarding your personal and financial information. The types of scams used to trick you into giving out your personal information are infinite. Individuals perpetrating scams may pretend to be from any number of sources: government agencies including Medicare and the IRS; law enforcement agencies; family members, potential romantic partners; or companies promising “free” deals or prizes.’
Follow these safety tips and share them with your friends and family:
- Never give out personal or financial information over the phone/email/text unless you are 100% sure of the identity of the person to whom you are giving the information.
- Re-contact the entity that claims to have contacted you through an independently verified phone number or website.
- Never pay for any alleged bill, outstanding debt, or purchase with wire transfers, gifts cards, or cryptocurrency. There’s likely no way to track it or to get it back.
- Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotels, universities, and other public places are convenient, but often they’re not secure. Avoid sending information through websites or mobile apps where someone else might be able to see it.
- When using a payment app, double-check the recipient’s information to make sure you’re sending money to the right person. If you get an unexpected request for money from someone you do recognize, speak with them to make sure the request really is from them — and not a hacker who got access to their account.
- Before using an online company to make travel plans or have work done, do your own research on the company. Don’t sign or pay until you know the terms of the deal or contract.
If you think someone has illegally used your personal or financial information
- Call the companies there you know the fraud occurred and explain that your identity was stolen and have them freeze the accounts.
- Change your logins, passwords and PIN numbers.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Report the identity theft to your local law enforcement and the Federal trade Commission (FTC).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission is a federal agency whose mission is to protect consumers.
They provide information on:
- How to prevent identity theft;
- How to identify and protect yourself against scams;
- How to report identity theft/fraud
- How to place a freeze/hold on your credit and get a free copy of your credit report
- How to register for Do Not Call
- How to protect kids online
Crime Prevention - Vehicle Theft Protection
ALWAYS ensure that your vehicle is locked when you leave it, even if you are planning to be away for only a short time.
Never leave valuables in your car, especially your purse or wallet.
If you must leave valuable items in your vehicle while you are away, place items out of sight BEFORE reaching your destination or move them inconspicuously. This Includes: IPODS, GPS devices, computers, backpacks, gym bags and packages.
Leave no trace or “sign” that there might be valuables “out of sight” in your vehicle, such as docking stations or connector cables.
Set any alarm or anti-theft device that you have. They can be an effective deterrent to an auto-burglar, who most often chooses the easiest target.
Try to park in busy, well-lighted areas.
NEVER leave your keys in your vehicle.
Safety Tips - When You Are Out
- If you must carry a purse, hold it close to your body. Don’t dangle it.
- Never carry a wallet in your back pocket. Put it in an inside jacket pocket or front pocket.
- Make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to return.
- Avoid dark, deserted routes, even if they’re the shortest.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages and groceries that obstruct your view and make it hard to react.
- Have your car or house key in hand as you approach your vehicle or home.
- When you drive, keep doors locked and windows up. Park in well-lighted, busy areas
- If a friend or ride-share takes you home, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside.
- Communicate the message that you are calm, confident, and know where you are going. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.
Safety Tips - When You Are At Home
- Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Keep your doors locked at all times, even when you’re inside.
- Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security devices.
- Make your home appear occupied when you go out by using a timer to turn on lights and a radio.
- Never let strangers in your home without checking their identification. Call their company if you’re not sure. Install a peephole in your door and use it.
- Get to know your neighbors and keep their phone numbers handy for emergencies.
- Engrave your valuables with a unique identification number recommended by the police.
- Keep bonds, stock certificates, seldom worn jewelry, and stamp and coin collections in a safe deposit box.
- Don’t hide extra house keys under a doormat or other obvious spots.
- Question things that appear to be out of the ordinary. If you see something that’s not right, like someone going into your neighbor’s house when you think they are at work, please call Public Safety at 911.
If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time
- Leave shades and blinds in a normal position.
- Stop all deliveries and arrange for someone to pick up your mail, newspaper and packages.
- Arrange for someone to mow your lawn, rake leaves and maintain the yard to give your home a lived-in look.
- Have a neighbor place garbage cans at the curb on your normal pickup day(s) and return them after the garbage pickup is made.
- Put things away. Lawn furniture, bicycles, etc., should be put away before leaving. Items left out can easily be stolen.
- Test your smoke and burglar alarms.
The City of Aiken Dept. Public Safety has a house check system. If you are going to be away from home for a few days or more, call Public Safety at 803-642-7620 and advise that you want your house placed on the House Check List. Officers will go by your residence twice a week to ensure that everything is properly secured.
Safety Tips - Ride-Share Safety
- Request your ride inside
Minimize the time that you’re standing outside by yourself with your phone in your hand.
- Check Your Ride
Every time you take a trip make sure you’re getting into the right car with the right driver by matching the license plate, car make and model, and driver photo with what’s provided in your app.
- Have the driver confirm your name
In addition to the Check Your Ride safety steps, you can also ask the driver to confirm your name before you get in the car.
- Share your trip details with loved ones
While en route, tap Share trip status in the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They will receive a text or push notification that tracks your trip and ETA.
- Protect your personal information
Our technology anonymizes your phone number when you call or message your driver through the app* and also masks your pickup and dropoff addresses in a driver’s trip history. In select areas, the Driver app will only show the general area where a trip started and ended.
- Trust Your Instincts.
If you feel unsafe, end the ride at any time.
Safety Tips - Golf Cart Safety
SC Law 56-2-105 regulates golf carts.
Golf Cart Laws:
- Must be registered and have a permit decal.
- Must have liability insurance.
- The permit must be replaced every five years OR if the primary address changes.
- The driver must be at least 16 years old and have a driver’s license.
- When being operated, the driver must have the registration certificate, proof of insurance, and driver’s license on their person.
- Can only be driven on secondary streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.
- Golf carts may cross over a highway (like state or US highway) even if the speed limit is over 35 mph, but cannot drive on it.
- Must be driven within 4 miles of the address on the registration certificate, or 4 miles from the point of entry from a gated community (which has a guard shack and barricades etc, ie Woodside).
Common Roads where golf carts CANNOT be driven (non-secondary roads): Whiskey Rd, Pine Log Rd, Richland Ave, Silver Bluff Rd.
Safety Tips - Bus Safety
- Help kids stay safe while waiting at the bus stop by following these guidelines:
- Visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus: at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb.
- When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before approaching the bus door.
- Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her.
Watch out for buses all year long. You must stop your vehicle for the entire time a school bus is stopped, or preparing to stop with its red or amber lights flashing, or its stop arm extended. After the school bus’s red and/or amber lights have stopped flashing AND the stop arm is no longer visible, proceed slowly, watching for children. Law requires these actions whether you are meeting the school bus in an oncoming lane, or traveling behind it under the following conditions: -On any two-lane highway -On any four-lane or multi-lane highway only when traveling behind a school bus -When attempting to pass a school bus that has red or amber signals flashing.
For more information on when to stop for a school bus visit South Carolina Department of Public Safety at: School Bus Law | SCDPS
Safety Tips - Fireworks Safety
Setting off fireworks is illegal in the city limits of Aiken. Per City of Aiken Municipal ordinance section 16-6 (a)
“It shall be unlawful in the city for any person to use, fire, shoot, discharge, sell, offer for sale, store, exchange, give away or possess any fireworks within the city, except as specifically authorized in this section.”
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by watching a professional fireworks show. Go online to find one in your area and visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov/fireworks for firework safety tips.
Safety Tips - Pedestrian Safety
- Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
- Embrace walking as a healthy form of transportation – get up, get out and get moving.
For more information on Pedestrian Safety visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at: Pedestrian Safety: Prevent Pedestrian Crashes | NHTSA
Safety Tips - Fire Safety
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries, stay safe by cooking carefully and following these tips:
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Keep candles at least 1 foot (30 centimetres) away from anything that can burn.
- Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
- Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
- Never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle
- Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet (one metre) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot (one metre) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home. •
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month
For more information and resources for fire safety visit the National Fire Protection Association at: NFPA
Staying active in your community will help you to feel safer, and help to make your neighborhood a better place to live.
- Join a Neighborhood Watch.
- Become a foster grandparent or block parent for children who may need help in an emergency. If a friend has been a victim of crime, be supportive. Listen carefully and non-judgmentally, cook a meal, help repair damage or replace belongings. Accompany the victim to the police station and to court.
- Volunteer for a local Court Watch to help make court more responsive to citizen needs.
- Ask the crime prevention officer from your local law enforcement agency to talk to your senior citizen group.
If you would like to start a Neighborhood Watch Zone or just want to get a few neighbors together to talk with us, please contact us today.
When something happens, call 911. DO NOT APPROACH a suspicious stranger or try to take matters into your won hands. Call us! You might be putting yourself in jeopardy and protecting your safety is our sworn duty.