Did you know this October is National Crime Prevention Month? This year the National Crime Prevention Council, a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit that first urged the country to “Take a Bit Out of Crime” 35 years ago, is highlighting four specific themes for all of us to be aware of: identity theft, firearms storage, safer living, and gang prevention.

Taking steps to prevent a crime from occurring is always preferable to being a victim and relying on the criminal justice system. That said, let us share several tips for you to keep in mind this year.

1. Identity Theft. Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently acquires your personal identifying information, and uses it for financial gain. Identity thieves drain bank accounts, open credit cards, and even obtain medical treatment using an unsuspecting person’s identity. Vigilance is key. Guard your personal information and contact the authorities immediately if:
You see suspicious bank withdrawals
Debt collectors contact you about surprise debts
Your credit report shows unfamiliar accounts or charges
The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name

2. Safe Firearms Storage. Firearms should always be safely stored to avoid tragic accidents, and to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey of prison inmates, only 7 percent of firearms used in crimes were legally purchased from a licensed firearms dealer.

3. Living Safer, Being Smarter. Crime is a concern for all age groups, but young adults are increasingly becoming targets. In response, the NCPC and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance have launched the “Smarter” Resource Project to provide youth prevention resources relating to schools and communities. We encourage not to wait to take a look at them.

4. Gang Prevention. Despite the growth of gangs and associated crime across all 50 states, little is actually known about the internal dynamics that drive them. Most experts agree, however, that preventing youths from joining gangs requires a multi-strategy effort, including:
Addressing elevated risk factors
Strengthening families
Improving community-level youth supervision

These areas cover a wide range of criminal activity, as well as victimization. Know that as important as education is on how to avoid these issues, it is just as important to contact an experienced, local criminal defense attorney if you are accused of a crime. Defendants charged with crimes are almost always best served by obtaining a lawyer who knows the local rules and how to best represent them. We encourage you not to wait to contact a member of our team for a free case evaluation.