How to stop crime: 7 tips from an actual Bay Area police chief

CAMPBELL, Calif. (KGO) -- In our efforts to continue Building a Better Bay Area, ABC7 is focusing in on safety.

We sat down with Campbell Police Chief David Carmichael and asked questions to find out what you can do to live a safer life in the Bay Area.

Here are 7 tips Chief Carmichael has for anyone looking to be safer and to stop crime in their neighborhoods.

1. What is the top mistake someone can make with their overall safety?

"The number one thing that we would like to encourage people to do is don't leave valuables in your car, especially something that is in plain view," Chief Carmichael said. "Far too often we find people that decide that they are just going into the store for a few minutes and they will leave their laptop or bag in their car. They believe that they will only be in for a few minutes, but sometimes it only takes a short period of time for a crook to see that, break a window and steal their item. Sometimes people leave an empty bag assuming that since there's nothing in the bag, it's okay to leave it on the seat. But, the crook may not know there's nothing in the bag and still might break a window to get in there."

2. If you see a suspicious person/vehicle in your neighborhood, what should you do?

"The number one thing is to be observant," Chief Carmichael said. "We encourage people to pay attention to their neighborhood. We encourage people that they know is out of place, that they should immediately contact their police department in their jurisdiction so they can ascertain what is happening."

3. Do home surveillance equipment and/or alarm systems make your home safer?

"We would never discourage anyone from using any of the myriad home protection devices that are on the market," Chief Carmichael said. "But if somebody just sets up a camera system and they are away, they may believe that they have secured their home. In reality, the camera is very valuable, but it may not provide a real-time alert to anybody. While we love and appreciate the evidence afterwards since it may be able to solve a crime, we would rather prevent it from happening in the first place."

4. If you are on vacation, what should you do to keep your home less of a target for intruders?

"The number one thing to remember is that you want to make it look like you're home," Chief Carmichael said. "There's a number of different things that you can do: you can leave a car in the driveway so it looks like someone may be home. You might also want to have a motion-sensing light outside or have your inside lights on a timer. It's also good to notify your neighbors exactly who can pick up your mail or newspapers, or stop the deliveries if needed. You can at least have someone on a schedule to check your house while you're away."

5. What can you do to prevent packages from being stolen from your porch or home?

"The number one thing that we would suggest people consider is having your package delivered to an alternate location other than your front porch if you are at work or gone most of the day," Chief Carmichael said. "Another thing to consider is to have it delivered at a time where you are going to be home or to a friend or family member that is home. In Campbell, we have a bait package program, which has been very successful. We will partner with our community to put packages on their porch that has GPS bait in it. So if the package is stolen, it alerts us in real-time and we can track it down to make an arrest."

6. What are safe techniques to practice while riding public transportation?

"I think the most important thing is to be attentive to your surroundings," Chief Carmichael said. "Anytime you're out and about, I think it's common sense, but we always remind people to not be too distracted, especially with some of the technology that we have. Keep your eyes open and make eye contact with people as best you can. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't have your face buried in your cellphone while you're going down the street. Whether you're on public transit or just walking, it's really the same advice."

7. What are the easiest things overall to do to live a safer life?

"Every law enforcement agency has its own response protocols," Chief Carmichael said. "A lot of what I talked about is general advice and some of it is specific to Campbell. I think if people utilize their common sense by doing things like: keep things locked, don't have valuables in plain view, talk to your neighbors and stay alert, that's universal advice. I would also encourage people, if they have questions, to reach out to their own law enforcement agency and ask for their advice."

In addition to these tips, the Campbell Police Department are always doing things to keep their community safe.

You can see what they are up to on their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or their website.

Stay tuned to ABC7 News for more ways to be safe as we continue Building a Better Bay Area.
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