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5 New Year’s resolutions for a safer 2010

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By Ted Mink

As we all prepare our New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, spend less and reduce our stress level (again), remember to add these five simple resolutions. If you commit to these five things, you’ll be contributing to a safer 2010 for yourself, your loved ones and your community.

No. 1: Torture your kids by talking to them seriously about their safety

Resolve to sit down with your children — no matter their age — and talk with them about their own personal safety. If they’re young, teach them to check first before they go anywhere with anyone. (Because strangers aren’t the only people who can harm a child.)

If they’re older, talk to them about online predators, “sexting,” bullying, drinking and other relevant safety topics for adolescents and teens. For more information about these subjects, contact your child’s school resource officer or school counselor.

No. 2: Your home is your castle, so raise the drawbridge

In 2010, whether you’re at home, running an errand, or vacationing in another country, resolve to keep your doors and windows closed and locked. This simple habit is one of the best crime-prevention methods out there … and it’s free! Don’t forget about your garage door — it’s one of the easiest ways for thieves to access your property.

Your car is probably the most valuable of your belongings, so why treat it differently than your house? Keep your car’s windows up and doors locked, whether it’s parked in the garage, in the driveway or on the street. Never leave your purse, wallet or other valuables inside. Never leave the keys inside, and never leave it running without you in it. Even in your own driveway.

No. 3: Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol

The abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs and illegal drugs is linked to crime and quality-of-life issues of all kinds. Our deputies have seen these factors contribute to car crashes, domestic arguments and abuse, and child abuse. Intoxication also compromises the ability to escape a dangerous situation — it is often a factor in sexual assaults.

Untold numbers of criminals have told us that addiction to drugs was the driving force behind the identity thefts, auto thefts, robberies and related crimes they’ve committed.

If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drugs, the best New Year’s resolution you can make is to get help. To get started, call the United Way at 211, or visit www.unitedwaydenver.org.

No. 4: Trust no one

OK, that’s a bit much. But after seeing the “Grandma, I Need Money” phone scam, we wouldn’t mind if you started asking your own grandkids for identification.

What we mean is: Make a resolution to verify the recipient before donating money or sharing personal financial information.

If someone comes to your front door selling something as a fund-raiser, take the company’s information and say you’ll follow up after researching it. Do not let a stranger inside your house to use the restroom, or for any other reason.

If you get an e-mail, phone call or text message that appears to be from your bank or credit union, contact the bank separately using the number on your statement. Be savvy and skeptical about any incoming correspondence from financial institutions. Your bank will not request personal information from you by phone or e-mail — not even for “verification.” When in doubt, delete.

No. 5: Stay informed

Knowledge is power. One of the best ways you can bolster your own safety is to stay informed about crime trends affecting your community. The mainstream news media are one valuable source. But did you know you can also sign up to receive crime updates distributed by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office?

Resolve to sign up for e-mail alerts on crime and quality-of-life issues by visiting www.jeffcosheriff.com. You can also get crime-trend and sex-offender information from our crime map, also available on our website.

On behalf of the men and women of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, I wish you a healthy and safe 2010. Happy New Year!