Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



 Tips for Your Personal and Family Safety

  • Never carry a large amount of money. Whatever the amount, don't "flash" it around.

  • Never resist an armed robber.
  • Women with pocketbooks and purses: keep a good hold on your pocket-book and keep it under your arm (and not freely hanging at your side when walking down the street). In the super-market, don't leave your purse in the shopping cart or walk away from the check-out counter leaving your purse there . . . even if for only a moment. If your handbag has a top flap, keep the flap facing you when carrying it and put your hand on top of it. MOST IMPORTANT. . . Lock up your pocketbook or purse while at work. Many thefts occur there with persons walking in off the street. In the powder room, watch your purse. In a public restroom, don't put your handbag high on a hook inside the booth.


  • Men with wallets: keep it close to your skin. Don't have a bulging wallet in a back pocket or in a coat pocket (it too easily slips out).


  • Everyone: clean out your pocketbook or wallet regularly; carry as few credit cards as possible and remove the ones you rarely use or carry them in a different location.


  • Never put your name and address in your key case. If it is lost or stolen, you are an easy mark for a burglar using your own keys.


  • If your wallet or pocketbook is stolen or lost, beware of someone calling you to have you pick it up at a specific address. (This is an old trick: while you are getting your wallet or purse back, someone is burglarizing your home).


  • If your wallet or purse has proper identification in it, the U.S. Postal Service will mail it to you if someone drops it into a post box anywhere in the United States. This is also true for Social Security and other checks.


  • Be alert in public places against pickpockets or someone who is simply waiting for the chance to grab your wallet or pocketbook.

    If someone bumps you or brushes up against you, be wary . . . check your wallet or pocketbook . . . this is a favorite "distracting" tactic of the pickpocket and thief. Remember that many pickpockets and thieves work in teams. While one distracts you, the other quickly and quietly steals.


  • At nighttime, simply avoid dark alleys and streets.


  • When walking down a sidewalk with high bushes on one side, walk to the other side of the sidewalk.
For Children and Parents:


  • Warn children never to go any place with strangers.


  • Know where your children are at all times.


  • If children come home with items or "gifts," check it out. Find out where they got it. Report suspicious "gifts" or unexplained items showing up at the house to the juvenile division of the police department.


  • Tell a child to stay at least six feet away from a car that stops and asks for directions.


  • Walking to school or other distances away from home: it is better to have two or three children walking together or even have an adult or older child accompanying them.


  • Organize the block parent program where at least one home on every block is the place to go if there's trouble and this parent generally sees to it that no problems occur when children are coming home from school, etc.


  • Ask parents to be on front porches or streets when children are returning home from school.


  • Teach children to go to parents, teachers, counselors or other responsible person if threatened or if some problem occurs; this is not "squealing" or "tattling."


  • If a child comes home without having eaten and without the money you may have given him before going to school, check it out further. Make sure the child isn't the victim of a "shake-down" racket with older or bigger youths.


  • Don't punish a group when only one or two are guilty of something. Injustice does not teach justice to the innocent. Consider a child as innocent until proven guilty.


  • If there is any threat or problem along the school route, arrange with parents or other adults to accompany children to prevent further problems.


  • Remind a child not to show to others what money he or she may have.


  • Take an active interest in the children of your home and block. Show your interest and help out with problems. Make your home a neighborhood "youth center" where children are welcome. Be a friend and chaperon for recreational activities and let them know about odd jobs around the home or neighborhood.


  • Be suspicious of unanswered questions from your child about what he or she has been doing when out of the home.


  • If your keys are even lost or stolen, aside from other precautions mentioned in this handbook, immediately change all locks. Even if your name and address is not in the key case, someone may know who the keys belong to. This could be an invitation to a burglary.


  • Check out the babysitter with references and people for whom he or she has done previous babysitting work.


  • If your child is a babysitter for someone, check them out too. Meet them so you know who they are and where they live.


Credit Cards:


  • Sign all credit cards.


  • Keep a list of all credit cards you have, their numbers and the name and address of the company issuing them.


  • If lost or stolen, promptly report such by telephone to the company and then follow-up your call with a letter stating the same report to each company.


  • If you cancel a credit card, destroy it immediately.


  • Report any loitering people you see around homes, parking lots, etc.


  • Take a good look before entering a poorly lit hallway, building, alley or parking lot.


  • Right to Self-Defense: the Penna. Crimes Code allows any citizen to resist an attack in any form by another person or persons; use no more force than is necessary. You do have the right to arrest and hold for the police any person who commits or attempts to commit a criminal act against you.


  • In any crime in which you have had the opportunity to see the criminal, immediately write down that person's description - don't trust your memory. For additional thoughts about the best method to do this, check this handbook's chapter on "Robbery, Muggings and Purse-Snatchings."


Most Important: Prosecution and Restitution


  • If anyone commits a criminal act against you or your family - or you witness or know of such an act against others - ALWAYS insist on prosecuting the criminal. Be available to testify about what happened or what you know at the district justice's hearing and County Court.

    And, if the crime was committed against you or your family, INSIST on restitution from the criminal-make the criminal pay for any damages, losses, lost wages, medical bills, etc., resulting from his actions. Do this at either the hearing and trial or take civil action against the criminal on your own . . . BUT DO IT!

    Do not hesitate to be involved. Report crime. Be willing to testify or to be interviewed by police . . . Seek restitution (if any is appropriate to the crime) . . . Make sure justice is done.


  • Consider taking some courses or instruction on self-defense. Besides preparing you in the event you would ever have to defend yourself, it keeps you in physical shape.


  • Have something with you to scare off or use against an attacker: Whistle . . . the whistle has been proven very effective in many areas; it scares off the criminal and alerts other people.


  • If you carry any object such as a knife, gun, razor blade or some other such object designed to inflict bodily harm on another, it is illegal. You can apply for a gun permit but we caution you against carrying any of these objects with you unless legally authorized.
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For more information, contact the Office of 
State Senator Vincent J. Fumo

1208 Tasker Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 468-3866
2637 East Clearfield Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 423-7670
Senate Box 203001
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3001
(717) 787-5661


Copyright 1996 by State Senator Vincent J. Fumo. Copyright is not claimed as to part of the original work prepared by an employee of the Senate of Pennsylvania, or Commonwealth governmental officer or employee as part of that person's official duties. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be copied, downloaded, stored, disseminated, transferred, or used, in any forms or by an means, except with State Senator Vincent J. Fumo's prior written permission.


Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo