AAA Rated Standard & Poors July 2014
Where our Mission is Law Enforcement Excellence and Public Service through Partnership with our Community

Safety Tips


Our Mission is Law Enforcement Excellence and Public Service through Partnership with our Community.

We have provided the following safety information for you and your families.

Bicycle Safety
Domestic Violence
Frauds and Scams
Gang Awareness
Holiday Safety
Home Safety
Home Improvement and Repair


Internet Safety
Motor-Driven Cycles
Personal Safety
Senior Safety
Traffic Safety
Vehicle Safety

Bicycle Safety

  • Riders should always wear an approved bicycle helmet
  • Riders should give the proper hand signals when stopping and/or making turns
  • Riders should look for other vehicles prior to entering an intersection
  • Bicycles should not be ridden upon any sidewalk in a business district or on a public sidewalk by any person over the age of 14 years
  • Riders must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks
  • No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number of persons for which it was designed or equipped
  • When riding upon a public street or highway, all riders must obey all traffic laws
  • When operating a bicycle between the hours of sunset and sunrise, all bicycles must be equipped with headlight and a red rear reflector visible at night
  • Riders must ride as close as practicable right curb or edge of the roadway
  • All bicycles operated upon any streets, alleys, lanes or public highways must be registered with the City Treasurer's Office

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Domestic Violence

  • Domestic Violence and Family Abuse is not a family matter, it is a crime. The Suffolk Police Department considers Domestic Violence a serious matter. Officers have been trained to thoroughly investigate incidents of family abuse and Virginia state law requires them to make an arrest of the predominant aggressor. In addition, officers are required to provide resources referrals to victims of family abuse. If you know someone who is being abused, please report it to the police as soon as possible.

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Frauds and Scams

  • Telemarketing Fraud
    • According to the Better Business Bureau and the FTC, here's how you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud: Be skeptical of "too good to be true" telephone offers Resist pressure for an immediate decision and ask for written follow-up materials that explain the offer. Agree to pay no more than the price of a postage stamp when notified about "winning" a sweepstakes All legitimate sweepstakes must allow a "no purchase necessary" way to play the game and collect the prize. Never provide your credit card or checking account numbers to a caller from an unfamiliar company without first checking the company out with the Better Business Bureau, state consumer protection agency or state Attorney General. Ask to be placed on the company's "do not call" list to reduce the number of unwanted telephone solicitations you receive. Don't Be A Victim
  • Home Diversion Burglary
    • This scam usually occurs during the spring, summer or fall when residents are working outside. Most individuals working in their yard do not lock their homes. One individual will approach the victim and occupy his/her attention while a second subject enters the victim's home and steals cash, jewelry and silver. Another home diversion technique is for perpetrators to come to a residence and ask for a drink of water, use a bathroom, or use a telephone for an emergency to gain entrance to a home. The subjects will then attempt to divert the victim's attention while an accomplice searches for valuables. Tips: If an unknown subject comes to your home seeking directions, the phone, the bathroom, etc., keep the subjects outside the home and at least one locked door between you and them. If they need water, direct them to an outside faucet. If they need to contact someone, offer to make the call for them. When working in the yard only leave a door unlocked that you can visibly monitor at all times.
  • The Pigeon Drop
    • In the most common variation of this scheme, a person is approached by strangers who claim to have found a large bag containing cash. The victim is convinced to put up "ood faith" money to share in the find and is driven to his/her bank to obtain the money. The good faith money is then put in a purse or parcel for safekeeping The victim is then distracted while the parcel containing his/her money is switched. The bogus parcel is later given to the victim for safe keeping and the strangers leave to make final arrangements and never return Obviously, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is. Anyone that asks for a person to put up money for "good faith" is not trustworthy.
  • Bank Examiner Scam
    • The con-artist portrays himself as a good Samaritan in this scheme and generally poses as a bank official, police officer, or FBI agent flashing a badge or other identification. The perpetrator requests the assistance of the victim in checking on an employee suspected of defrauding the victim's bank or indicates there is reason to believe the victim's records are inaccurate and should be checked. Once the swindler has the victim's confidence, he persuades the victim to withdrew large sums of cash from his bank account. The victim is then assured his money will be returned and the swindler will ultimately take the money, never to be seen again. Real professionals have other ways to resolve investigations rather than involving innocent subjects. Each of these groups has their own officers and money for covert operations to check for bank fraud. If you are approached by any of these individuals, contact their employer to verify their employment. If the person claims to be a detective or FBI agent, ask the person for a uniformed officer to come to your location to verify their identity.
  • Letter Scam
    • The perpetrator in this scheme claims to be from India, Africa, or another country, and has just inherited a large sum of money. He then displays a letter that states that under the law in their country he cannot return with more than a small amount of U.S. Currency. The swindler then solicits the victim's assistance and either asks the victim to keep the money and periodically send small amounts of it back to them in their home country or make a small donation. In either case, the victim is given the impression that this person will return to their country leaving his money behind. The con-artist tells his victim that he trusts him; however, it will be necessary for him to prove he has money of his own so he won't be tempted to keep this money. When the victim withdraws a large sum of money from his bank, the money is placed into a handkerchief or envelope along with the con-artist's money and a switch is made. The victim is later given an identical envelope or handkerchief containing cut up paper and the con-artist departs never to be seen again.

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Gang Awareness

  • Recognizing gang activity in your child's behavior.
  • A gang is a group of people who get together on a regular basis to carry out violent or illegal activities and who have some recognizable trademark, name, or symbol. Gang activities may include intimidation, assault, vandalism, burglary, the selling of illegal drugs, and even murder. Gang members generally tend to be male teenagers, but they can also be female and even as young as 7 years old. The Suffolk Police Department has observed evidence of gangs in every social, academic and ethnic category. G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) is taught in the local school system, officers spend time in the middle and elementary schools to interact with the students.
  • Look for these signs that may indicate a child may be involved with a gang:
    • The child dresses in the same color clothing everyday or wears tattoos, unusual jewelry or clothing that could identify a particular gang.
    • The child is carrying guns, knives or other weapons.
    • The child begins hanging out with a new group of friends.
    • There is a change in the child's habits or personality.
    • You find evidence of or suspect drug or alcohol abuse.
    • The child frequently shows signs of being bruised or injured.
    • You observe the child using unusual hand signs, nicknames or street language.
    • You observe strange symbols or graffiti on notebooks and folders.
    • The child withdraws from family members or friends.
    • Grades fall and/or incidents requiring discipline become more frequent.
    • The child obtains money without your knowledge.

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Holiday Safety

  • Alcohol, Parties and Driving
    • Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a party. Have something to eat before consuming alcoholic beverages. Eat high protein foods that will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Remember only time will eliminate the alcohol from your body. Know your safe limit. Never drink and drive!
  • Shopping
    • When parking, roll up the windows, lock the vehicle, take the keys, and conceal valuables, preferably in the trunk. During hours of darkness, park and walk in lighted areas to the extent possible. When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as possible. As you approach your vehicle, scan the area, glance underneath the vehicle, and take a quick look inside before entering. While out and about, present an alert appearance. Be aware of your surroundings; scan the area from time to time. Avoid concentrating so hard on shopping that you fail to keep track of your surroundings, others near you, or your personal property. Wear conservative, comfortable clothing. Grip carried items firmly and avoid leaving them unattended. Carry minimal cash and valuables, wear minimal jewelry. Using debit or credit cards is much safer than carrying a lot of cash. Shop with friends or relatives if possible; there is safety in numbers. As you shop, be alert in crowded places. Pickpocketers favorites are revolving doors, jammed aisles, elevators, and public transportation stops and vehicles, especially at rush hour. Carry the day's most expensive purchases closest to your body, and don't carry so much you lose the ability to react quickly. Keep a close eye on your children while shopping. Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard if they ever get separated from you in a store/mall, and be sure they know their first and last name so they can tell someone who they are. It's best to keep children under four(4) in a stroller. Return to your vehicle periodically to check on it and reduce the amount you are carrying and must keep track of. Store packages in the trunk or, if your vehicle doesn't have one, out of plain view (on the floorboard, under a blanket or seat). Ask for an escort to your car if you feel nervous.
  • If followed-
    • On foot: cross the street, vary your pace, change direction By vehicle: execute several right turns to verify, get to and stay on arterial streets Note and record: license plate number, description of vehicle and occupant(s) If followed by a vehicle while on foot, turn the "wrong way" onto a one-way street. If follower persists, go to an occupied and lighted location (convenience store, fire station, police station) and summon police.
  • Solicitation
    • Confine your charitable giving to reputable established organizations, preferably those with a local branch. If solicited for an unfamiliar organized charity, ask for literature so you can make an informed decision about giving; any reputable organization will be glad to provide material. With the exception of local organizations, door-to-door sales are often fraudulent, and should be viewed with skepticism. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Promptly report suspicious persons, vehicles, and crimes to the local law enforcement agency.

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Home Safety

  • A home should be a place of refuge and safety. Failing to properly secure your home or apartment can accidentally invite intruders in, potentially robbing the homeowner of property, but more importantly, peace of mind. Make a list of your valuables and record serial numbers and keep that list somewhere safe.

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Home Improvement and Repair

  • The Suffolk Police Department encourages owners to take measures to ensure the safety of their home while building or undergoing renovations. The following are some crime prevention suggestions to consider:
  • Get referrals of reputable business/workers from friends.
  • Request and verify references before contracting with the business or workers.
  • Obtain several estimates. Be sure to ask if there is a charge for this service.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau at 757-531-1300 to see if there are any complaints filed against the business.
  • Confirm that the contractor has a valid contractor's license and/or city business license.
  • Sign a written contract with the business or worker and also obtain a written guarantee for the work that is performed. Make sure all spaces are completed before signing.
  • Negotiate payment arrangements in installments. Pay one third of the cost at the beginning of the job, one third when the work is nearly complete and the remaining amount when the job is satisfactorily completed. When paying, use a check rather than cash.
  • Never leave a key outside your home for workers.
  • Never leave delivery people, construction workers or repairmen alone in your home If possible, stay in the same room with them while they complete their work.
  • Try to schedule your home improvement and repairs around times when you are home.
  • Always keep your wallet, purse, checkbook and credit cards with you.

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Internet Safety

  • The Internet is not as safe as it appears. It is available to anyone and that includes those who seek to harm others. Although everyone is vulnerable to being victimized on the Internet, children are particularly at risk. It is imperative that we educate youth about safety practices on the Internet, just as we emphasize safety practices on the street. Here are some simple tips that will help reduce your likelihood of victimization. These suggestions are primarily for kids and parents are urged to discuss them with their children:
  • Do not give your passwords to anyone else, not even a best friend.
  • Never give your home address, telephone number or school name.
  • If someone says something that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, do not respond; tell your parents.
  • Never say you will meet someone in person without asking for your parent's permission.
  • Always tell your parents about any threatening or bad language you see online.
  • Do not accept things from strangers (e-mail, web page addresses, pictures).
  • Never e-mail pictures or anything of a personal nature to strangers.
  • Be careful with social networking and blogging sites (MySpace, Friendster, Xanga, Facebook, etc.) While the majority of the activity on these sights is legal and positive, the amount of personal information, pictures and scheduling information can create a false sense of security and can make kids and teens vulnerable to inappropriate relationships. Kids can also become victims of cyber-bullying, identity theft and receiving inappropriate content.

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  • Mopeds are defined as every vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground that has (i) a seat that is no less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicular to the ground and (ii) a gasoline, electric, or hybrid motor that displaces less than 50 cubic centimeters.
  • While operating a moped upon a public street or highway the driver must obey all traffic laws.
  • All persons riding on a moped are required to wear a protective helmet and safety glasses of a type approved by the Superintendent of the State Police.
  • No moped shall be driven on any highway or public vehicular area faster than 35mph or by any person under 16 years of age.
  • No moped shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number of persons for which it was designed or equipped.
  • When operating a moped between the hours of sunset and sunrise, it must be equipped with a headlight and a red rear rear reflector visible at night.
  • All operators are required to carry some form of identification with them that includes their name, address and date of birth.

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Motor-Driven Cycles

  • Recently, there has been a growing interest in a type of vehicle called a "Motor-Driven Cycle." These types of vehicles are like a miniature replica of a real motorcycle and are fully operational. They are defined by State Code as "...every motorcycle that has a gasoline engine that (i)displaces less than 150 cubic centimeters; (ii) has a seat less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicular to the ground; (iii) has no manufacturer-issued vehicle identification number." The operation of these cycles on public highways is prohibited.

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Personal Safety

  • Telephone Safety
    • Do not give personal information to callers.
    • Do not leave personal information on an answering machine.
    • If called by a person who says they are with a business, ask the caller for the business telephone number, so that you can return the call. Then, check the number to ensure that it corresponds to the caller's information.
    • Report nuisance callers to your telephone company; or if obscene or threatening notify the police department.
    • To avoid telephone solicitation to the extent possible, sign up for the "National Do-Not Call List".
    • If you do wish to conduct business with a telephone solicitor, ask that they mail you information so you can make a more informed decision. If they refuse or pressure you, hang up.
  • Valuable Items
    • Utilize direct deposit option, if available.
    • Do not keep large amounts of cash at home or on your person.
    • Conduct a personal property inventory and record an ID number on the items.
    • Keep doors and windows locked.
    • Close blinds/drapes at night.
    • Install and use a peephole.
    • Do not open door to strangers.
  • Individual Safety
    • Use a buddy system.
    • Do similar functions in a group (shopping, laundry, walking).
    • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid secluded areas.
    • Have drivers wait until you're inside.
    • If apprehensive about any location (parking lot, ATM) for any reason, leave.
    • Use drive-up ATMs instead of walk-ups. When possible use them during the day. Protect you PIN.
    • Present an alert appearance.

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Senior Safety

  • As people grow older, their chances of being victims of crime decrease dramatically. But a lifetime of experience coupled with the physical problems associated with aging often make older Americans fearful. Even though they may be on the lookout constantly for physical attack and burglary, they're not as alert for frauds and con games.
  • Telephone Callers
    • You control conversations and information flow on your telephone. If you do not know the caller, do not volunteer information. Should the caller ask: "Who is this?" you should respond: "Whom are you calling?" or "Whom do you wish to speak to?" Make the caller identify whom he/she is calling. If you do not receive an appropriate response, hang up.
    • Do not allow yourself to be drawn into conversations with strange callers, census/survey takers or business promotion sales persons where you are asked to reveal your name, address, marital status, personal history information, etc.
  • At the Door
    • Most of the time, the person at your door will be there for a legitimate reason, whether he/she is a friend or a stranger. If the caller is a stranger, you should immediately become alert. Never open your door to a stranger. You should have a one-way peephole installed in the door that allows you to see who the caller is. The one-way peephole is inexpensive and easily installed.
    • Establish the caller's identity and the reason for the visit If he/she refuse to show identification and will not leave, quietly go to the telephone and notify the police. Should the caller produce identification but you still are not sure of the validity of the visit, telephone the caller's business office for confirmation. If you still feel uncomfortable, do not open the door; ask them to leave.
    • There are a number of ways you can secure your doors. If you do not feel your locks are adequate, we recommend that you contact a professional locksmith or friend to assist you. Should you consider improving the security of your home, investigate thoroughly your lock requirements and the cost of upgrading the security of your doors, because a lock is only as effective as the door and frame on which it is installed.
  • Safety on the Street
    • The majority of street crimes are crimes of opportunity. The thief is looking for an easy target: a woman walking down a quiet street or a man who has just cashed his pension check and has been observed with a substantial amount of money. Or the thief decides that this is the right place and the right time, and you just happen to be there. The thief is very likely to be a teenager, a male and a stranger to you.
    • The most common street crime is purse snatching. The thief approaches you from behind or face on, catches you unaware, grabs your purse and runs. It happens so quickly that you do not have a chance to see who the thief is. There have been reports of men having their wallets taken from them by force These offences do not occur that often, but they do occur.
    • You may ask yourself: "How can I prevent myself from becoming a victim?" There are ways in which you can reduce the risks and increase your sense of personal security. Here are a number of rules and guidelines. It is up to you to determine how these rules and guidelines apply to your situation.
    1. Carry large sums of money
    2. Flash your money for anyone to see
    3. Carry valuables in full view on your person
  • Guidelines for Women
    • If you are going to the store for groceries, take along only the amount of money you feel you will need. Be alert when you are carrying a purse on the street or in a store. Use a shoulder strap model and keep it tucked between your body and your arm. Do not dangle a purse by the straps or hold a clutch-style purse just in the hand. If your purse is a clasp type, carry the purse so that it opens towards your body. If you look as though you are protecting your purse, you will not be considered an easy target. Do not wrap purse straps around your wrist or you could be dragged along or knocked to the ground in the event of a "snatch". Shop in pairs or in a group, or change your route to avoid a certain street cornet or youth hangout. Do not be embarrassed to call the police. It is our job to assist you and investigate problem areas.

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Traffic Safety

  • The city is witnessing an increase in residential developments and business expansions, resulting in more drivers within the City. The City of Suffolk is comprised of 430 square miles with both rural and urban areas. The City's boundaries border the state of North Carolina, the cities of Chesapeake and Portsmouth and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton. The City has a large number of high volume, primary traffic routes and is part of an interstate highway system that experiences heavy traffic from commercial trucks. The rural nature of many of Suffolk's roadways, coupled with an increasingly higher population, requires drivers to exercise greater caution, when traveling at higher speeds in heavily populated areas.
  • The following are some suggestions to help decrease the chance of an accident:
    • Drive at a safe speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
    • While stopped at a traffic signal, pay close attention to the traffic signal and be prepared to drive through the intersection once the light turns green.
    • Refrain from using a cell phone while driving. Although it is legal to use a cell phone while driving, it can also be distracting.
    • If a vehicle is traveling too fast and you sense a collision is likely, move your vehicle ahead slightly. This will reduce the impact on your vehicle as well as your chance of serious injury.
    • Reduce speeds during inclement weather.
    • Driver inattention is an important cause of accidents. Refrain from engaging in activities that will cause a distraction such as reading a map, talking on a cell phone, eating, etc.
    • Don't drink alcohol and drive.

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Vehicle Safety

  • Always lock your car doors when you exit your car.
  • Remember to take your keys out of the ignition.
  • Roll all windows up completely.
  • Park in well-lit areas. Choose an attended lot when possible.
  • Never tell a parking attendant how long you will be away from your vehicle.
  • Turn your wheels toward the curb when parking on the street.
  • Do not leave items such as credit cards, checkbooks or other valuables in your car's glove compartment.
  • Do not keep an extra key "hidden" on the car.
  • Have your keys in your hand when you approach your car.
  • Keep your car doors locked when you are traveling.
  • Do not give rides to strangers.
  • Drive with your gas tank nearly full.
  • Keep safety items (jumper cables, cell phone, flashlight) in your car at all times.
  • Do not attach a name-tag to your key ring.
  • Engrave the VIN on all expensive removable parts such as stereos, CB radios and wheels and wheel covers.
  • Never leave your car running unattended.

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