Over the past three years, threats to personal safety have increased. Be aware of these trends, update your loved ones on protection strategies and contact the staff insurance team at BNC to ensure your valuables are properly insured.
2020 was a tumultuous year. During the pandemic, violent crime increased by 5%, according to the FBI, and homicides increased by 30%. The Council on Criminal Justice says homicides continued to rise in 2021, based on crime data collected from 22 cities.
New York City has also experienced an increase in violent crime recently. The New York Police Department (NYPD) says that from June 2021 to June 2022, overall crime increased by 31.1%. Robberies increased by 36.1% and burglaries increased by 33.8%. The NYPD also saw a 4% increase in gun seizures.
In a recent example of violent crime in the city, NBC New York reports that two men disguised themselves as FedEx workers to carry out a home invasion at a Bronx apartment, and one of the intruders shot the victim.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), car thefts increased by 9.2% in 2020, with the sharpest increases seen in the second half of the year. The increase appears to have continued into 2021. The Council on Criminal Justice says the number of motor vehicle thefts increased by 14% in 2021.
Thieves don’t always steal the whole car. Sometimes they just take the catalyst, a piece of equipment that contains precious metals. The NICB says catalytic converter thefts increased by 325% in 2020.
Most car thefts happen when no one is looking, but some criminals are bold. In a recent example, NBC New York says two thieves ambushed a 71-year-old man and took his keys after he parked his SUV in his Brooklyn driveway. The crime occurred in broad daylight.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 847,376 complaints in 2021, up from 791,790 in 2020 and 467,361 in 2019. Ransomware attacks have increased, but so have other cybercrimes, including romance scams. In these schemes, fraudsters use fake online identities to gain a victim’s trust and affection and then swindle the victim out of money. Cryptocurrency schemes were another common complaint in 2021, with scammers often posing as official support or security from cryptocurrency exchanges.
Protect yourself from personal security threats
There are many different threats, so it is important to be vigilant.
- Avoid making yourself an easy or attractive target for robbers. Be aware of your surroundings, walk in well-lit areas and avoid walking alone. Also, avoid using cash or carrying or carrying expensive items that might attract the thief’s attention. Be especially careful after using an ATM or shopping. For more tips on how to stay safe, see the NYPD Crime Prevention Book.
- Secure your home. Lock your door and make sure your windows, sliding glass doors and other entrances are secure. Consider updating your security system and watch out for criminals who may disguise themselves as workers to gain access to your home.
- Keep your car safe. NHTSA says you should park in well-lit areas if possible. Also, keep your car locked and don’t leave valuable keys in your car. Visible and audible anti-theft devices, immobilizers and vehicle recovery systems can also be a smart investment.
- Learn how to spot and avoid phishing scams. Fraudsters are very good at posing as representatives from companies and organizations. Be wary of urgent requests or threatening demands. When in doubt, do not click on any links or provide information. You can always look up the organization’s contact details and contact them on your own if you are concerned there is a problem.
- Beware of romantic plans. People online are not always who they say they are. They may make promises they have no intention of keeping. Be wary of requests for money or personal information.
- Keep your personal devices and accounts safe. Use strong, unique passwords, multi-factor authentication, and antivirus software. The FTC warns that public Wi-Fi is not secure, so you should avoid using it to access financial or personal information.
When threatened by a crime, always prioritize your safety over your property. At BNC, we can help you secure home insurance, car insurance and scheduled coverage for valuable items. Read more.