Security Notice: Crime Prevention and Residential Security, July 17, 2012
Warmer weather usually means an increase in crime and this year is no exception. The Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Rome is seeing an increase in petty thefts and vehicle break-ins – around tourist sites in Rome and Florence but also in residential areas. Stay vigilant no matter where you are. Do not leave valuables in your car whether in a secure parking area or not. Keep positive control of your valuables at all times.
The U.S. Citizens Services Section maintains excellent information about crime on both the U.S. Mission to Italy website (http://italy.usembassy.gov/acs.html) and via the Country Specific Information sheet (CSI) for Italy at http://travel.state.gov/.
This is also a good opportunity to remind all U.S. citizens about residential security. We suggest that citizens review personal and residential security practices with family members and household staff. Security features in your residence are only effective if you use them. Doors in your residence are not like those in the U.S.; simply shutting the door does not lock it. You must lock your residence door manually when you are inside and when you leave.
Residential Security Tips:
1. If your residence has shutters to protect windows or doors, secure them during the day when the house is unoccupied and at night before you go to sleep. Local criminals seem to have excellent gymnastic abilities climbing drainpipes or walls up several stories to enter an unsecured balcony or window.
2. Check and recheck to ensure that all doors and windows are properly secured during the day when the house is unoccupied and at night before you go to sleep.
3. Avoid making your residence a target. Keep valuable items away from the exterior perimeter of your residence and out of view from the street.
General Security Recommendations
• Cultivate a 'sixth sense' about your neighborhood; know what is normal;
• Anytime you leave your home or office, look up and down the street for any suspicious cars, vans, or utility vehicles;
• Note people near your home who appear to be repairmen, utility crew teams, peddlers;
• Remain alert while driving;
• Know your "choke points" on your routes – those bottleneck spots you must traverse. Heighten your awareness of other vehicles, vans, motorcycles as you enter such choke points;
• Determine if a pattern is developing with specific cars/motorcycles behind or near you.
Be suspicious of:
• People watching for extended periods of time from street level, buildings, or cars;
• Broken down vehicles - watch the person’s actions;
• Work crews - do they belong there?
• Individuals taking notes or photos;
• People who leave the area when you do;
• Cars parked in the same place for extended periods of time with occupants in the front seat;
• Cars or motorcycles that suddenly pull out of parking places or side streets when you pass them;
• Vehicles driving too fast or too slow, making erratic moves or abrupt stops;
• Vehicles that stop or start as you do.
• Determine all routes available to and from work;
• Vary your route;
• Change departure times frequently (at least one- hour window);
• If possible, frequently change vehicles ;
• Stagger professional and social activities (don’t play tennis every Wednesday at 3).
Other helpful security recommendations:
• Search the exterior and interior of your vehicle.
• Look around and under the car for obvious devices, packages, bits of tape, wire, string, safety pins, clumps of dirt, footprints and other indications of tampering;
• Look inside the vehicle through the windows;
• Look for signs of forced entry around the doors, hood, windows and trunk ( a dirty car reveals fingerprints);
• Look inside the exhaust pipe – invest in a blocking pin;
• Check the gas cap for signs of tampering – look inside the neck of the gas tank;
• Look around, on top of and under the tires – don’t forget the hubcaps;
• Check the driver/passenger compartment; always start with the floor and under the seat, then work up;
• Look for devices and wires attached to doors or wedged between the door and seat;
• Check door panels for signs of tampering;
• Look under seats, dashboard, floor mats and headrests;
• Check the ashtrays, speakers, cigarette lighter, vanity and dome lights;
• Check the sunvisor and glove compartment;
• Check all electronic equipment; radio, clock, power windows.
Important Phone numbers:
• Police - 113
• Carabinieri - 112
• Ambulance - 118
• Fire - 115
Daily Security Habits and Practices:
• Vary your times and routes to and from work;
• Keep your doors locked and windows closed (residence and vehicle);
• Check the interior and exterior of your vehicle prior to getting into your vehicle and look for things that are irregular or abnormal;
• Maintain a low personal profile by not doing anything that draws attention to yourself;
• Identify and report to your local police authorities vehicles or persons possibly involved in surveillance of your activities;
• Be alert to what is going on around you;
• Make sure your colleagues and family are aware of your daily plans and know how to reach you;
• Always be aware of your surroundings and report all suspicious activity to your local police authorities;
• In traffic, always attempt to leave space in which to maneuver and always leave yourself an exit. Be prepared to take evasive action at any time;
• Avoid choke points in travel and be wary of diversions;
• If you are being followed or harassed by another driver, try to find the nearest police station, hotel or other public facility to call the police. Never lead the person back to your home or stop and get out;
• Whenever possible, do not have a set day for shopping, errands and personal needs: be unpredictable;
• Never give out your personal information such as family member and household staff names, addresses and telephone numbers in an open setting;
• Ensure all of your family members are briefed on security measures.