Crime Prevention Tips
Here are some simple tips you can do to help prevent crime:
- Lock your doors and windows when leaving your residence.
Most residential burglaries occur during the daytime. Screen doors and chain locks provide false security. Secure your garage door, even when you are at home. Burglaries and thefts take minutes or even seconds to commit.
- Know who is at your door before opening it.
Obtain identification. Consider installing 360 peepholes in all entryway doors. Don't open your door until you know who is there.
- When you are not home, leave lights or the TV on.
Consider leaving porch lights on at night or putting lamps on timers. Lighting is one of the most inexpensive crime deterrents.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed for better visibility.
Keep window wells clear and free of shrubbery and debris. Overgrowth may provide hiding places for criminals.
- Secure your keys and keep them out of view.
Never place identification tags on your key rings. Treat your garage door opener like your keys. Never leave your garage door opener inside a vehicle that is parked outside.
- Get involved and know your neighbors.
Consider forming a Neighborhood Watch Group in your neighborhood. Contact the Altoona Police Department for more information. When leaving town, have a trusted friend or neighbor take care of your home. The police department also provides free home checks for Altoona residents who are on vacation. Learn more.
- Remove your keys and lock your doors when leaving your vehicle.
Don't leave extra keys inside the vehicle or under the hood. Secure your valuables in your trunk or take them with you. Don't create temptation by leaving valuables within view inside your vehicle. When returning to your vehicle at night, be aware of your surroundings Look underneath and inside your vehicle before entering.
- Prior to installing home-security devices, think fire safety first.
Would the device prevent you from getting out of your home? Considering installing pet doors? They provide entry for pets, but they may also provide entry for criminals. Privacy fences give you privacy, but they also give the criminal concealment from outside view.
Check fraud is on the increase. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, more than 1.2 million fraudulent checks are written every day - more than 13 per second.
The single biggest mistake that consumers make with regard to check fraud is thinking that it could not happen to them. New laws place consumers at greater risk for bearing the responsibility of check fraud perpetrated against them if they fail to report the fraud within 30 days.
It all adds up to the importance of paying attention to a number of common sense practices:
- Since most check fraud starts with the theft of a check, keep your checks as safe as possible, with your excess supply stored in a secure place. Don't leave a blank space when writing out dollar amounts.
- Avoid using abbreviations. IRS, for example, can easily be changed to MRS.
- Pick up checks from your mailbox promptly and protect your deposit slips. A common scam involves con artists who deposit worthless checks into your account, getting some of the deposit back as cash.
- Review all cancelled checks to be sure that they have not been altered. Report any irregularities promptly.
- If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, please call the Altoona Police Department at 715-839-6090.
Elderly Phone Scams
Do any of these sound familiar? Read below before you send money!
- Are you sending money to claim a lottery prize?
- Are you sending money to help someone get a large sum of money out of their country?
- Are you sending money because a relative called from another state or country and told you that they need help?
- Are you sending money because you were guaranteed a credit card or loan?
- Are you sending money to someone you have not met personally?
- Are you sending money to someone you've never met to pay for their trip to America?
These are just some examples of scams being perpetrated using money transfers. If these sound like your situation, please call the Altoona Police Department at 715-839-6090 for assistance and advice.
Identity theft occurs when someone obtains a person's identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number or mother's maiden name. Using this information illegally, an imposter can open new credit card accounts, drain your bank accounts, purchase automobiles, apply for loans, open utility services, and on and on.
No matter how cautious you are, you cannot guarantee that a criminal will not obtain your information. The following steps will tell you what the warning signs are, how to protect yourself, what to do if you become a victim, and the resources you will need. As always, contact the Altoona Police Department, 715-839-6090, with questions.
Often, there are no warning signs that identity theft has occurred. However, some reasons for concern are:
- Your monthly credit card and bank statements suddenly stop arriving.
- You are denied credit for no apparent reason.
- You start getting bills from companies you do not recognize.
- Credit collection agencies try to collect on debts that do not belong to you.
How You Can Protect Yourself
- Ask your bank, doctor's office, other businesses and your employer how they use and protect your personal information.
- Never carry your social security card, social security number, birth certificate or passport, unless necessary.
- Do not put your address, telephone number or driver's license number on a credit card sales receipt.
- Social security numbers or phone numbers should not be put on checks.
- Identifying information should not be given over the phone or the Internet to someone you do not know or on a cellular or cordless phone.
- Shred all personal documents before placing them in the trash.
- Get a copy of your credit report every year.
- Keep your financial records out of sight. Burglars are just as interested in credit cards, bank accounts, and investment statements as they are in your TV, jewelry and other valuables.
- Check your monthly credit card statements for charges you did not make. If monthly statements do not arrive in the mail, call the lender immediately.
- Keep a list, in a safe place, of all credit cards and bank accounts including the account numbers, phone numbers and expiration dates.
- Only use your credit card on the Internet if it will be encrypted. (There will be a padlock to the web address.)
- Shred financial or confidential information such as credit card pre-approvals, credit card receipts, etc.
- If you have credit cards you do not use, store them in a safe place. Cancel the accounts if you will not use them again. Cut up old credit cards before discarding.
- Carry only the credit cards you plan to use.
- When you have applied for a new credit card, keep your eye on the mail and the calendar. If the card does not arrive within the appropriate time, call the credit card company.
- Do not use your mother's maiden name as a password for accounts.
- Unless your mailbox is secure, mail payments at the post office and pick up new checks at your bank.
- If you are not interested in pre-approved credit offers, opt-out by calling 1-888-5-opt-out (888-567-8688).
What To Do If You Have Become a Victim
The following steps should be taken immediately and at the same time to best insure your protection:
- Record Keeping
In the process of resolving the theft of your identity, be sure to keep records of all correspondence with the creditors and government agencies you contact. Include the date and name of contact. Follow up all telephone contacts with a letter and keep a copy.
Notify all creditors and financial institutions, in writing and by phone, that your name and accounts have been used without your permission. If an existing account has been stolen, ask the creditor or bank to issue you new cards, checks and account numbers. Carefully monitor the account activity on your statements. Report fraudulent activity to the issuing company IMMEDIATELY. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) is a federal law that limits a consumer's responsibility for fraudulent charges to $50.
- Local Law Enforcement<br>
Immediately report the crime to local police (Altoona Police Department 715-839-6090). Provide them with as much documentation as possible. Make sure that the accounts are listed on the police report. Also, get a copy of the police report. Credit card companies, banks and credit reporting agencies may require you to show a police report to support your claim that a crime was committed.
- Federal Law Enforcement
Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from consumers and stores them in a secure online database called the Consumer Sentinel that is available to law enforcement agencies worldwide. The FTC provides information on ways to resolve problems resulting from identity theft and refers individuals to various private and government agencies for further action.
- Credit Reporting Agencies
Contact the fraud units of the 3 credit reporting agencies: Equifax: 800-685-1111, Experian: 888-397-3742,and Trans Union: 800-916-8800. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report to help prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened. Keep track of when it expires so you can ask for another 1, if necessary. However, not all creditors check your credit report before issuing a new account. As an ID fraud victim, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. Also, ask the agencies for a copy of your credit report every three months once you have become a victim. This can help determine how many and which accounts listed are fraudulent. You can also identify the existing accounts that have been stolen.
- Utility Companies
Ask utility companies (local and long distance telephone service providers, gas, electric and water companies) to watch out for anyone ordering services in your name. If someone has ordered services in your name, cancel those accounts. If you have trouble with falsified accounts, contact your state Public Utility Commission.
Neighborhood Watch is undoubtedly one of the oldest and most well-known crime prevention concepts in history. While the modern day concept of Neighborhood Watch came into prominence in the late 1960s in response to an increasing burglary rate, its roots in America can actually be traced all the way back to the days of Colonial settlements when night watchmen patrolled the streets.
The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) took this crime prevention concept a step further by making it a national initiative -- the National Neighborhood Watch Program.
Throughout the years, Neighborhood Watch has grown from an "extra eyes and ears" approach to crime prevention to a much more proactive, community-oriented endeavor. Neighborhood Watch groups are now incorporating activities that not only address crime prevention issues, but which also restore pride and unity to a neighborhood. It is common to see Neighborhood Watch groups participating in neighborhood cleanups and other activities which impact the quality of life for community residents.
The adoption of community policing by local law enforcement agencies has also contributed to the resurgence in watch groups over the years. Neighborhood Watch fits nicely within the framework of law enforcement/community partnerships, and Neighborhood Watch meetings can be a useful forum to discuss neighborhood problems and practice problem-solving techniques.
National Night Out
Altoona hosts an annual National Night Out (NNO) in August. National Night Out is designed to:
- Heighten the awareness of crime and drug prevention
- Generate support for and participation in local anticrime programs
- Strengthen neighborhood spirit and community partnerships
- Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back
The NNO showcased Altoona Police and Fire Department vehicles and equipment with a special display and demonstration of SWAT team gear! Participating groups include the Department of Public Works, Health Department, and many community partners. Children can enjoy games, giant inflatables and entertainment. Hot dogs, chips, and water will be provided at no cost (while supplies last). The event also features "Dunk the Officer" where children can try their luck at the dunk tank, sending an officer into the drink and an extra-special canine demonstration.
On June 1, 1997, Wisconsin Act 440, entitled Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Law, became effective. This is Wisconsin's version of Megan's Law, a law intended to help protect society by identifying convicted sex offenders and their placements within communities. This law applies to all persons who, on or after December 25, 1993 were sentenced, in an institutional setting, discharged, or on field supervision for sex crimes. The Department of Corrections has allowed local law enforcement the discretion to determine, on an individual basis, the need for community notification.
- Registration Process
In Wisconsin, convicted sex offenders are registered with the Department of Corrections upon their release from prison. Once released into the community, they must report to the local police department to participate in a face to face registration process. In Greenfield, the face-to-face registration consists of an interview as well as a booking, which includes fingerprinting and photographs. The interview is designed to gather intelligence about the offender, including their place of residence, employment and school, hobbies and interests, rules of supervision, details of the crime for which they were convicted, and other pertinent information. Based on this interview, and with information provided about the offender from the Department of Corrections, an assessment is made regarding the potential of this offender to re-offend, and the degree of danger this person presents to the community.
- Offender Assessment
The assessment of an offender's potential to re-offend is not an exact science. Many factors are considered. If there are sufficient factors present to suggest a potential for danger to the community, a decision group is convened within Eau Claire County to determine what type of community notification might be necessary. In all cases, the safety of the community is our first and foremost concern.
- Living in the Community
The Altoona Sex Offender Residency Ordinance prohibits sex offenders from living near schools, parks and other areas where children congregate. Unless Court-ordered restrictions exist, these offenders are constitutionally free to live wherever they choose. Sex offenders have always lived in our communities, but it wasn't until passage of Act 440 that law enforcement was able to share this information with the community. Citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass registered sex offenders will not be tolerated and violators will be arrested and prosecuted. Please understand that such abuse could potentially end law enforcement's ability to make these community notifications. We believe the only person who wins if community notification ends is the sex offender, since sex offenders derive their power or ability to victimize through secrecy. Our belief is that an informed community is a safer community.
- This information is updated regularly to ensure that the registry is as accurate and current as possible. However, you are cautioned that the information provided on this site can change quickly, and may not reflect the current residence, status, or other information regarding the registrant. Each registrant submits registry information, and sometimes the information provided is not accurate. Sometimes registrants fail to notify us about a change in residence, status, or other information. The Altoona Police Department cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions produced by secondary dissemination of this information. If you believe that any of the information contained in the registry is inaccurate, please contact us. If you have read the information provided on this page and wish to view information on current registered sex offenders within our community please visit the Family Watchdog website.
All agencies in the criminal and juvenile hustice system will make a good faith effort to contact and assist you in exercising your rights as a crime victim throughout the justice process. If you have questions or concerns, please notify the contact officer of any changes in your address or telephone number. Additional resources can be located below.
An arrest may not be made during the initial investigation of the crime you reported. You will be contacted when / if an arrest is made. You may contact the officer to report additional information, ask questions, or determine the status of your investigation. You have the right to know if the offender has been arrested and if they are still in custody.
If no arrest has been made and you would like to know the status of your case, please call the Contact Officer at 715-839-6090. This Officer is your primary source for information about the investigation, arrests and status of any of your property in police custody.
If an adult has been arrested in connection with this case, you may call the Eau Claire County Jail Inmate Information line to find out whether the person has been released.
Eau Claire County Jail Inmate Information | Phone: 715-839-4702
If the case is referred to the District Attorney's office for prosecution, the District Attorney's office will try to contact you within 8 weeks with additional information, including whether charges will be filed, your right to attend court proceedings and to discuss the case with the prosecutor. Contact the District Attorney's office for more information about your rights.
Eau Claire County District Attorney | Phone: 715-839-6090
If a juvenile is taken into custody and transported to the Juvenile Detention Center you may contact the Custody Intake Department of the Detention Center to determine if the Juvenile has been released. Release is determined by the Intake Worker and the case is referred to Juvenile Intake.
If a juvenile offender is identified but not taken into custody, the case will be referred to Juvenile Intake for review. If a juvenile is referred to the District Attorney and is prosecuted, you will be contacted by the Victim Witness Unit at the Children's Court Center regarding your rights.
Northwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center | Phone: 715 839-6086
Government Center, 3rd Floor, 721 Oxford Avenue Suite 3540, Eau Claire, WI 54703
Rob Fadness, Children's Court Services Manager
Victim Information Notification (VINE)
The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Office has joined law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and State of Wisconsin in the automated Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) program. The U.S. Department of Justice designed a statewide (and national) automated system which provides victims and other community members with timely information about the location and custody states of offenders housed in Wisconsin jails.
The automated notification system initiated from a tragic case out of Kentucky. A victim of a terrible assault failed to receive notification that her assailant had been released from jail custody. The man stalked the woman and killed her three days after his release.
County Jails - Victims, law enforcement and the public can register for automated notification via WI-VINE by calling toll free, 1-888-944-8463 or online. You will be able to see the custody status of an offender or defendant and, if they are in custody at the county jail, register to receive automated telephone notification and/or email notification when there is a change in the custody status. The WI-VINE service is anonymous and confidential.
Department of Corrections - The WI Department of corrections maintains a public website where anyone can search or view the status and location of an offender. Please note that the offender's photo will automatically appear on this site. To search for an offender, click on the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Offender Locator link.
Website: vinelink.com | Toll Free: 1-888-944-8463 (1-888-wi-4-vine)
Wisconsin has three types of civil orders of protection, commonly referred to as restraining orders: domestic abuse - harassment - vulnerable adult.
Petitioners, (persons seeking a restraining order) can register for automated notification of when a temporary restraining order (TRO) has been served or firearms have been surrendered. They can seek this information or register via VPO (VINE Protective Order) by calling toll free at 1-855-948-7648 or on the website.
You can search for our restraining order using the 12 digit court case number and the respondent's full name. Make sure you are spelling the name the same way it is spelled in Wisconsin Circuit Court Access. You will then be able to register to receive notification. Please note that notification is only generated when TROs are served or firearms are collected by law enforcement and not private process servers or third parties.