Advice about Crime

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  • Concerned over rise in crime

    (15 replies)

    Is anyone else concerned over the rise in crime?  I keep hearing about businesses being broken into, increased in car break ins, and worried that home break ins are next as the economy is worsening by the day.  My partner has weapons he owned for years, which I made him disassemble to the extent possible and keep unloaded and disassembled and separate from the ammo in safes when we first had kids. They are now locked away but my partner is concerned that they are also completely unusable for home protection since it will take him a while to fully put one back together and load it.  He has been pushing for a while to assemble one weapon and keep it in a locked safe unloaded but in a way that he or I can access and load in under a minute in case there is a home invasion.  We have two young kids so I'm concerned but on the other hand we are always home now, streets are deserted, crime is going up, and I'm home alone with kids quite often late in the evening so I'm no longer sure that not having it available for protection is the best choice.  Both of us are very capable with weapons and know how to use them so I agree with him that in an intrusion situation I'm safer with it then without, but the kids are young and even though they cannot access either of the safes they unfortunately know that the safes are there.  Anyone feels that the rise in crime in this area justifies taking extra precautions and took them despite in a way increasing other risks?

    NO. 100% not. I would never keep a ready gun in a home with children or teens. That is not a reasonable "extra precaution".  While I might agree there will be a rise in property crimes and crimes of opportunity, the police are still working! It's not going to be a lawless society! I live two blocks from a BART station and at most, I might double check my cars are locked at night.

    Have you considered a home security system instead? We got a SimpliSafe system a few months ago and it makes me feel so much more secure at home. We have sensors on all of our doors and windows (SO easy to install!) and cameras in a few areas of the house, some that point outside, and including a doorbell camera. The doorbell camera, window sticker, and yard sign we got with the kit are all visual cues that might help deter someone from targeting your home. We purchased ours using a Black Friday deal but the peace of mind is worth paying full price to me!

    If you are asking if you should be concerned about a home invasion I would say that is and always has been extremely unlikely. Crime is not rising. In particular violent crimes have fallen dramatically. Theft is not worth dying or killing over IMHO. Fire arms in the home are most likely to be used against someone in the home either accidentally or not. Please do not assemble these weapons. 

    The only news reports I'm seeing about crime are about crime going DOWN during shelter in place. It seems like your information is anecdotal. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on March 31, 2020, that "crime falls dramatically in Bay Area cities as residents stay home."  Also, in my (anecdotal) experience working in criminal courts, people tend to break into homes when they think they'll be empty during the day. Now no one's homes are empty. It makes sense that empty/closed businesses might be targeted, but there seems to be less need, rather than more, to worry about home security. 

    Streets are deserted and crime, in fact, is not going up! Get real! You guys sound like crazy survivalist. My advice is to please keep guns out of your house and away from your children.  
    You are much less at risk of a home invasion then you are of catching Covid-19. 

    Crime is actually not going up. It may feel like it if you are hearing anecdotes about break-one more often than usual but I work in the criminal justice system and the statistics actually show that crime has gone down in the last month, especially robberies and burglaries. I don’t have an opinion on whether you should have your weapon more easily accessible - that’s a choice only you can make. But do t let your heightened sense of anxiety make you worried about something that’s isn’t actually true based on data.

    IMO guns never solve anything.  Contrary to what you wrote I know the crime in NY is way down because of Covid-19.  While I haven't checked the stats it leads me to believe numbers are also down in California.  Unfortunately, the media needs stories to keep viewership so the few crimes that are happening make the news line-up and play over and over again.  You want to keep your kids safe? Keep those weapons dismantled and locked up.  Fear and hate never solve anything.  Look at all the kindness and love that permeates around us despite what you hear and read about in the news.  You don't say what city you live in.  I'm sure there are community watch groups and other alternatives instead of reverting back to the wild west. 

    I'm curious if you have any data to support your hunch that there's a rise in crime. I'm seeing more people walking around, smiling (or nodding with masks on), and feel that there's a community presence that my neighborhood lacked before. Wouldn't more eyes on the street = less opportunity for crime?

    Yes, we have seen a rise in crime (break-ins, specifically). We took extra precautions to secure our home. Neighbors have informed us that they have too and some have expressed that they have weapons (some are looking for training to use them, others want more ammo).  To be honest, we are going with things will get worse before they get better. We have a health and economic issue - a near collapse of both - going on. We might kick into our survival instincts for awhile. That’s how we are approaching this. Most will not agree with me. But I have three young kids and we are frontline medical workers, so we see things from a bit of a different perspective as we head back to work. 

    Number one, home robberies are actually going WAY DOWN, because everyone is staying at home. The idea that ordinary people need firearms because crime is increasing is nothing but a perennial myth promoted by fear-mongers who profit from it.   Number two, having a firearm in your home only hurts you. Not only does it do absolutely NOTHING to protect you in the highly unlikely event of a home invasion, it actually increases your risk of harm because you're more likely to be shot, accidentally or because the criminal gains control of the gun, than to successfully use the gun for defense.  This is true even though you are trained.  And of course, at all of the other times during which you are not in the middle of a home invasion, the chances that you and/or your children will be injured or killed by the gun, in an accident or in a suicide (and hey, the current circumstances are not reducing anyone's risk of depression and other mental illnesses that can lead to suicide!).  Every day in this country, tragedies occur because kids get their hands on guns that their parents thought were safely locked away.  Please get rid of yours.  They are nothing but a huge risk to you, your family, and everyone around you.

    Although there have been break-ins at businesses that are closed and unoccupied, as of today crime has been going down under the shelter-in-place order.  You can google "crime rate bay area shelter in place" and you'll see links from stories in numerous reputable sites.  Is your sense of looming danger based on crime, or an emotional response to the major disaster currently enveloping us all?  Perhaps the thought of being armed is giving you a sense of safety in an unsafe world.

    f you are going to bring your gun closer to hand I suggest you and your husband go a lot of thought to all the possibilities and develop a protocol for everything you can imagine.  If a robber has a gun, for instance, you might want to leave your gun hidden and give up money, rather than risk a gun battle when your kids are present.   Would you be ready to shoot someone in your home (in front of your kids)?  If not, you risk the gun being taken and used against you. 

    Based on the data, both violent and property crime have plummeted in the Bay Areas and statewide since shelter in place took effect. Unfortunately, domestic violence is up. Having the gun probably poses more risk than not having it, especially with children in the house. 

    dear original poster~ so here’s my two cents. we agree with you re property crime and its potential to get worse. that’s what we are experiencing in our neighborhood regardless of what any metric is saying.  i believe my security cans more than anyone else’s opinion, official or on groups like this.  we are so concerned that we have created several caches of food & supplies just in case it ever gets to the point someone robs us for those things. btw, we are a very liberal household but also have seen some things in our lives as well that give us a rock solid foundation in worst case scenarios involving other humans.  we live in an east bay neighborhood with many veterans (both young and old) and i can promise you, pretty much everyone of them has firearms. reason i know is i’ve lived here decades and they’ve never hid it.  lastly, and this proof that irony isn’t dead, a few of our most liberal friends/neighbors/family who are vocally ‘anti-gun’/pro gun law advocates... well i can tell you they went out and bought protection and encouraged us to do the same.  of course with the caveat that they will get rid of them when the crisis is over and they swore us to complete secrecy.  irony 2.0 is we’re holding this secret for different friends within our same social group which makes things awkward or darkly funny depending how you look at it.  we’re known for being very discreet so lucky us i guess. 

    they may well be one of the above responders saying NO GUNS, because that is the extent of their bluff. if you doubt me just read a little bit.

    i vote you do what YOU think is best for your family, use BEST practices if you do and tell NO ONE. not your best friends, not your mom, and certainly not me.   

    When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!

    I read the 14 answers you have received, and I just wanted to add a different perspective.  I don't own a gun, and I live in a suburb.  But decades ago, my dad, who lived in a poor part of town, used a gun to scare off some would-be intruders.  The police told my dad it could have ended very badly since the perpetrators were not wearing masks and so weren't concerned that he saw their faces.  You both are thinking rationally:  husband thinks it's low probability but terrible results (if no gun to protect yourself) and you think it's low probability (kids get gun) and terrible potential result.  I see both sides.

Parent Reviews

Hi there!

It's great you're posting here as hopefully you will learn more about the area to help you make your decision. From your question, you can tell you aren't very familiar yet with the Bay Area.

First off, you can't buy a house in Berkeley for that price range. The cheapest house you could probably find in Berkeley right now is maybe $850k if you are lucky. And it would be a fixer. You can potentially find that price range as you move further out into certain suburbs (El Sobrante, San Pablo) but you won't really find what you are looking for in terms of the diversity of Berkeley or lower crime.

Yes Berkeley is gay friendly and diverse. Crime is not high here although looking at crime maps could potentially freak you out if you don't know it I suppose. There is some crime but if you want little to no crime, you need to move to the whiter, wealthier suburbs of Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Danville, much of Marin, etc. Most of the Bay Area is gay friendly, you just might not get racial/ethnic diversity in those places. Personally, diversity is important to me as I would not raise my kids somewhere not diverse. For that reason, Berkeley and Oakland are the only places I would consider.

Also, there are no charter schools in Berkeley. Berkeley public schools are great and the majority of people I know send their kids to them.

Hi there, when you are moving to such a highly populated area there is always going to be crime issues. While Oakland is known to be one of the worse cities for crime in the US, there are VERY nice areas of Oakland. We lived in El Cerrito and we loved it. "The hills" are really nice and the area is really safe. It gets looked over because it's close to Richmond but we never had any issues there. I suggest renting before buying so you can get an idea of the areas if you are completely new to SFBA.

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Questions Related Pages

What to Do about a Stolen Wallet

July 1999

Can anyone advise me on what steps to take to protect my credit? My wallet, containing my social security card as well as my driver's license, was stolen two nights ago at Barnes and Noble. The thief made a series of charges on my credit card account. I've made a police report, closed all credit accounts, filled out bank affidavits of fraud etc., but am worred about identity fraud. With a social security number, a criminal can open a credit card account in another person's name and charge it to the limit.

I have been advised that I should contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union), and have already sent written notification to all three, asking that a fraud alert be put on my credit report. I wonder if there are any other steps that I can or should take. Has anyone else been through this?

I have been through this and it's a nightmare. Be sure you close all checking accounts; open new ones at a DIFFERENT bank to prevent the bank from trying to attack your new account to recover from fraud (that's what happened to me). This is especially important if you had any unused checks or deposit slips, paychecks or even a check you had written to someone else (e.g. to pay a bill) in your wallet. Even without a check, an industrious thief (and they are!) can call around to banks, give your name and social security number and check whether you have an account there. Then drain it.

The thief will most likely put a false photo on your driver's license and impersonate you at banks. With a social security card, they may be able to open an account and overdraw it immediately. It will be done at remote locations where no one could know you. That's the bank's problem, but they'll still try to go after you. You can go to the DMV and get a NEW driver's license. Not a copy, but a new one with a new number. You'll need the police report and either a bank or credit card report of fraud. They won't just give you a new number unless you can show fraud. But that's what you need to prevent them using your driver's license as an ID. Call the DMV first and check on it.

Contact social security to check on your account there also. I'm sure they have some steps for you to take (didn't have my social card stolen).

You did the right thing in alerting the credit bureaus. You'll need to be prepared to have your own, legitimate requests for credit rejected because the credit bureaus are not completely efficient and neither are banks, stores etc. It will take some doing to get credit (even for a mortgage).

Be sure to carry with you copies of all the police reports and any bank/credit statements saying accounts are closed because if the thief perpetrates fraud with your name, YOU could be arrested (eg during a traffic stop when they check you out for outstanding warrants).

This can go on for several years. Be diligent and you'll win (I did get my $5,000 back!).

It sounds like you've done everything that I know of to do. I had my credit identity stolen 5 years ago, and luckily I caught it because a call came through to me asking for my correct address. The people stealing my identity had gotten a Macy's card, a Spiegal card, a Penny's card, and a bank card in my name, and managed to get the address information on my credit files changed to their address, so they were getting all sorts of solicitations for credit, which they duly filled out and sent in. The only people that checked before issuing a card, and realized it was probably fraud, was American Express - and that was only because a call got put through to me at work by mistake. Luckily I caught it early enough that not very much had been charged. There are a couple of things I feel I should be doing (and have not done) which recommend to you. I think it's a good idea to get at least a yearly report to be sure everything looks correct. I was told that the warning is only good for 7 years, so I think I'm going to try to renew it at that time. I don't know if this will be a problem. Also - I'm not sure that people are checking with me - as far as I can tell it's up to the credit issuer to call based on the warning. I've only gotten one call - from a spring water company - and they didn't sign me up because they couldn't reach me right away - I had to call back and ask what the problem was. I didn't deal with one of the credit bureaus because it wasn't affected, which was probably a mistake. They are supposed to check with each other and have the same information, but I found that not to be true. Meanwhile we've refinanced our house and gotten a number of new credit cards - and I haven't heard a peep. So I'm not sure how well the warning works. It is very scary - the that stole my identity were caught because the federal protective service was involved and was able to spend time on the case because the fraud was the result of someone misusing information they obtained from being employed by the U.S. Govt. They told me that if it appeared that information wasn't taken from that source, they would have to drop the case, and local law enforcement were unlikely to give me any help. Maybe things have changed, since this is getting onto 60 minutes, and has a higher profile now. Anyway - it's great that you took all those steps. I don't know of anything else to do.

My sister had her purse stollen 2 years ago fro a restuarant at Jack London Square and is STILL dealing with it. If you are lucky, your wallet was stollen by a small time thief and not someone working for a major ring. Below is a list of some steps that you can take: * You will need to contact ALL three credit services and ask that a note be added to your record indicating the theft and that all new credit applications need to be verified with a phone call to you. This will help if the business actually contacts the credit services before issuing credit. You may also want to inquire if you can add a password or something in the event that you find yourself at a store trying to open credit. You can't very well be at home to receive an authorisation call in such an instance. Unfortunately, such companies as Target, Mervyn's, Speigel's, most mail order catalogs and so-called discounted stores may not check with the credit agengie before offering instant credit. * You should get copies of your credit report from all three agencies about every three months to check on who's been making inquiries into your account and who has issued credit. Contact these people and inform them of the fraud. If any charges were made against the new credit account, ask the credit issuer if they would be willing to write a letter detailing the fraud. Make sure they include the driver's license number that was used for verification. You will need this to prove fraud to the DMV before they will seal your old license number and issue a brand new one. * You will need to request DMV records since they can now get insurance under your name and license number. * Since they also have your social security number, you will need to check your social security account frequently to see if they have used it to obtain work. For my sister this was easy since she is a teacher and has not contributed to SS for nearly 10 years. * When you do get your credit reports, ask that any address/es that was/were used to have new credit cards and merchandise sent to, be removed from your reports. Too many addresses make you look unstable and prone to move around a lot. This could be used against you when you legitimately want to apply for credit such as for a mortgage. * Remember to be vigilant with your credit reports. Any bad reports made for none payment or for overdue accounts that were open fraudently must be removed from your report. If the credit reporting agencies refuse, at the very least, make sure they annotate the record as an account that was fraudulently opened and used. (So far my sister has been very lucky in having all negative reports removed.) * If you had a check stolen, close your account and ask that a note be placed indicating the reason for the closure. If you have outstanding checks out, you will need to leave some funds to cover those checks. If the thief decides to have new checks printed (as they did with my sister) be prepared for nasty, threatening letters demanding payment. * Make and keep very many copies of the police report, letters from the credit reporting agencies, DMV confirming the theft. You will want to keep a file of all of the letters that you receive regarding fraudulent use of your credit. Better yet, keep a separate file for each account which includes all of the information--when you sent them your information, their response, etc. A good idea is to maintain a calendar of the theft and the activites against your accounts, dates when credit was issued, dates when you sent letters explaining the situation, dates when you will need to request credit reports. If you do, you may see if and when the activity tapers off. * As difficult as all of this sounds, you will need to be organised and proactive. The police, while they may be very sympathetic, will do precious little. They will not prosecute for fraud unless the credit card companies and the merchants who were ripped-off press charges. Although it is your credit that it is at risk, from the police point of view, it is the credit card companies and merchants--and not YOU-- that are the victims of fraud. Unfortunatly, most credit card companies and merchants just write off the loss since they write if off their taxes or may be reimbursed by their insurance. * Finally, take a deep breath and try to relax. Hopefully, your situation will not be as bad as my sister's. But do brace yourself--you may receive threatening letters from attorneys demanding payment. Remember, under the law you are not liable for more than $50.00 of fraudulent charges if you report the theft within three days of the occurance--which you have done already. And most credit card companies do not even pursue the $50.00. Unfortunately, you may have to remind some of these people that you are the victim. Good luck. I hope this has helped and not frightened you more. I can greatly sympathesize, especially after watching my sister and mother-in-law deal with it simultaneously.

Last night, Lifetime aired a piece on stolen identities. Please check ou the list of things to do in such event at: as well as this web site: Good luck!