Recently, there was a purse snatching at Westgate Mall. Public safety is one of my top priorities and my office has been in direct communication with Westgate Mall Security and Westgate Management to work on proactive measures that will prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future. Due to the ongoing investigation, I cannot speak on the specifics of the case. However, I do want to give you some tips on how you can avoid being the victim of a purse snatching or similar incident.
Tips for purse snatchings provided by the San José Crime Prevention Unit:
- Leave your purse at home. Carry any necessary items (ID and money) in a wallet tucked safely in your pocket. Alternatively, you can carry your personal items in a bag that wraps around your stomach and can be hidden from view or in a backpack that is strapped to both shoulders and more difficult to snatch.
- Bring only what you need. Don’t carry any more cash or credit cards than you absolutely need for the day. Have the customer service number for your credit cards written down in a safe place so you can report a stolen or lost card immediately.
- Walk in busy, well-lit areas. You may think you are exposing yourself to more purse snatchers, but they are more likely to strike in dark, isolated areas to avoid getting caught. Walk briskly and confidently. Bring a friend.
- Be aware of the area and the people around you, especially if you find yourself having to walk in an isolated or lightly populated area. Look at the person who may approach or pass you if you have suspicions, and do not look away. Look directly at their hands or what they might be carrying. Snatchers prefer to strike and run without being recognized. If you do not appear to be vulnerable and could potentially provide their description, they will likely avoid targeting you.
- Hold your purse/bag tightly and close to your body, whether on a bus, train, or walking. If possible, wear your bag underneath a coat or jacket and ensure the latch/zipper is secured. You might be tempted to wear your purse diagonally across your body or loop the strap around your wrist to prevent snatching, but keep in mind that a hard yank on a tightly wound purse strap can cause injury to you. Shorten the strap so you can carry it tightly between your elbow and your body.
- If you believe someone is following you, don’t turn around. Use a shiny/reflective object, like a car mirror, window, or phone screen, to look back.
- Remember that you come before your bag. If someone pulls it away from you, let it go! it is important to avoid injury and never fight to keep your bag.
- Report anything or anyone suspicious. If you suspect someone is lurking someplace they do not belong, contact security if you are at a mall, or the manager if you are at a supermarket. Better to report your suspicions and be wrong than to ignore it and be robbed or hurt.
Mail theft is also a huge threat to your property and identity: your passport, tax receipt, and cash could easily become the target of thieves if not properly protected. Here are the top things you should do to prevent mail theft:
- Invest in a Security Camera. Preventing theft and catching thieves can be easy with a high-quality security camera mounted in a visible place on your property.
- Collect your mail in time. A rule of thumb is to never leave items in your mailbox overnight. If you don’t pick up your mail, someone else may do it for you. If you are not home, arrange for a trusted neighbor to pick up the mail for you.
- Upgrade your mailbox. Traditional mailboxes can be fished by hand or pried open with a screwdriver in seconds. A more solid mailbox with a special locking system or other anti-theft technology can aid in prevention.
- Do not use the mailbox flag. A raised flag signals an opportunity for mail theft. If you have something you’d like picked up by the postal carrier, you can place it in your mailbox right before the postal carrier arrives or place it in a secure USPS mailbox available to the public.
What to Do About Mail Theft
Have you been the unfortunate victim of mail theft? Don’t panic. There is still a chance you can retrieve your lost items and catch the mail thieves by following these steps:
- Call 9-1-1 and Report the Theft. Mail theft is a crime and you can call 9-1-1 directly to report this to the police. Any evidence you can provide, such as security camera footage, will be helpful to provide.
- Call the Postal Inspector. USPS deals with mailbox vandalism issues. Reporting any mail theft to the United State Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is an effective way to prevent future thefts. In 2015, approximately 1,400 cases of mail theft were investigated nationwide and resulted in 2,335 arrests. File a complaint by calling 1(800) 275-8777 or 1(800)-ASK-USPS.
- File a complaint with the USPIS online.
For more information, please contact my office at (408) 535-4901 or District1@sanjoseca.gov.