Crime Prevention and Community Education

What is Crime Prevention?

It is the anticipation, recognition, and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation of some action to remove or reduce it. The Burlington Police Department offers several crime prevention programs that help promote and improve safety for community groups and individuals. Officers provide educational resources and programs to assist those interested in learning more about crime prevention. Our goal is to provide educational opportunities for citizens to remove or reduce crime risk. You can visit Crimestoppers for more information on how to report a crime. This Crime Prevention Kit is an excellent resource, and you can visit the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Crime Prevention Council for additional resources.

Avoiding Scams:

There are numerous types of scams that scammers will use to convince you to give them your information. The easiest way to avoid scams is to never give your information out to someone you do not know and do not give or receive money from people you do not know. Anyone can be a victim of fraud. Criminals can gain access to your information in different ways. Some may steal your physical card if you lose or leave your wallet/ purse unattended. They might obtain your information through phishing scams, which is where criminals will send you an email from what might look like a trusted source, such as your bank, and ask you to provide or confirm your information. They may call you on the phone stating you have won a prize and ask for your information that way. If you do anything with your card online, they can access your information that way. Sometimes your card information can simply be purchased online from a website. Then the offender will use your card to make purchases, obtain loans or housing in your name, pay their bills, or sell it to someone else. The Burlington Police Department strives to help people avoid being the victims of fraud, so below we have provided some tips on how to avoid being scammed. We cannot guarantee you will never be a victim of fraud, but if you follow these basic tips, you can avoid most scams and know what to do if you are the victim of fraud.

Google Play, itunes, or Other Gift Cards:

One of the most common types of fraud we receive reports of is fraud using Google Play or iTunes gift cards specifically, but it is not limited to only these types of gift cards. Scammers will ask you to go to a store that sells Play or iTunes gift cards, such as a Walmart, and load them with a specific amount of money. Then they will ask you to provide them with the card number either verbally or by sending them a picture of it. They will then use the card without sending you whatever they promised. Scammers do NOT need to have the physical card in order to use it. You should never have to spend money in order to receive money.
  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Never use Google Play or iTunes gift cards to pay for anything outside of the Play or Apple stores.
  • Never share the card number from the back of the gift cards.
  • Never use gift cards for anything except to give as a gift.
  • Tips to Avoid Scams:

    It is not always possible to avoid being the victim of fraud or a scam. Criminals do their best to make their pitch sound convincing, and your credit card information can be obtained with relative ease. However, there are some basic things you can do to avoid having your identity stolen or falling victim to a scam. We have listed below some basic tips to help you avoid fraud. For more tips, visit here.
    • DO review your bank and credit card statements for irregular amounts or strange purchases, review your personal credit report for new loans or leases that you do not recognize. 
    • DO NOT give your information to people you do not know. Scammers and thieves may contact you by phone, email, mail, or even in person asking you to provide or confirm your information.
    • DO shred or destroy receipts, credit offers, expired credit cards, and any other document that could contain your personal information. This prevents someone going through your trash and obtaining your information.
    • DO NOT  carry your social security card with you unless necessary, store it and other personal information in a secure location.
    • DO create complex passwords, install firewalls or protection software on your electronic devices, and use your phone's security features.

    Bullying Prevention:

    "Part of keeping kids and communities safe is preventing bullying. Bullying can be physically and psychologically damaging and have lifelong effects, including anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies... Words can hurt, but they can also help. You have the power to make a difference by stopping bullying when you see it. You can be a good example by not gossiping or making fun of others. Although bullying was once considered a rite of passage, parents, educators, and community leaders now see bullying as a devastating form of abuse that can have long-term effects on youthful victims, robbing them of self-esteem, isolating them from their peers, causing them to drop out of school, and even prompting health problems and suicide."

    How Kids Can Prevent Bullying:

    There are effective and safe ways for kids to help someone who is being bullied. You can help kids know what method works best by role-playing with them. Emphasize they should only step in if they feel safe.
    • Walk away - shows bullies their behavior is not okay
    • Speak up - tell bullies that what they are doing is wrong by saying "that's not funny"
    • Be a friend - sometimes kids are bullied because they do not have friends so make friends with them. This also builds their support and confidence to stand up for themselves

    How Parents Can Prevent Bullying:

    • Teach kids to solve problems without violence and praise them when they do
    • Give children positive feedback to build their self-esteem
    • Ask your children about their day and listen to them
    • Many children are embarrassed to say they have been bullied so take it seriously
    • Stop any bullying you see right away, even if it is your child doing it
    • Encourage your child to help others who need it

    Additional link(s):

    It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of an attack or intimation by other students. Additional resources to prevent bullying are listed below:

    Keeping Your Child Safe Online:

    Think you know everything you need to know about your child? Some parents are surprised to learn what all their child has hidden on their cell phones and tablets. In this age of technology, parents need to exercise caution with how freely they allow their children to use their smartphones and the internet. It is a good idea to have a conversation with your child about the potential dangers they might encounter. And with the advent of technology, bullying has shifted to an online platform as well and has seemingly become more heinous. Sometimes changes in your child's behavior can be an indication they are being bullied online, such as turning off the computer or quickly switching screens, not wanting to go to school, statements like saying they have no friends, or they become withdrawn. The apps or sites that children use change often, but we have provided links below to some of the current ones as well as types of apps children might use to hide their online activity. To help your child, have open and honest conversations with them and let them know you are available to listen no matter what they may need to say. If you feel it is necessary for the safety of your child, parental controls can also be set up on their device or through your service provider.

    child hugs mcgruff

    Lock It or Lose It:

    Nobody wants to be the victim of a crime, but if you leave GPS units, phones, purses, or other valuables in your vehicle, you are increasing the risk that you will be a victim of theft. BPD reports that most thefts from vehicles are the result of people leaving their car doors unlocked or leaving valuables in view where thieves can easily spot them. The message is, "If thieves see it, they will steal it." 
    67% of Burlington's reported breaking and entering of motor vehicles were committed on unlocked vehicles! What are thieves looking for? Everything! This includes audio equipment, cash, purses, cell phones, tools, clothes, driver's licenses and other personal documents, checkbooks, luggage, cameras, GPS units, or other items of value or personal identification. If a thief manages to get anything with your personal information on it, including a social security number, you are now in danger of becoming a victim of identity theft. The key to preventing thefts from your vehicle starts with you! Listed below are some quick tips to help prevent theft from your vehicle and more information on our Lock It or Lose It program is available here:
    • Lock your doors and take your keys with you
    • Park in secure, well-lit locations
    • Don't leave your valuables in plain sight; lock them in your trunk or take them with you

    What to Do If You're Stopped by an Officer:

    There are many different reasons a law enforcement officer might stop you. The most important things to remember are to remain calm and cooperate with the officer. Do as the officer requests, keep your hands visible at all times, and remember accepting or signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt, you will have a chance to explain your side in court. If you have reason to doubt the officer initiating the traffic stop, you may contact 911 to confirm that they are legitimate. If you feel the officer behaved inappropriately, document their name and behaviour and contact their department and on-duty supervisor after the stop. Remember to listen, explain, comply, and then complain. Visit the links below for more tips on how to remain safe during interactions with law enforcement.


    Property crimes can affect anyone, but there are a few steps that citizens can take to both prevent theft and make recovery of stolen property more likely. Always remember to lock your vehicles. There has been a national campaign, which the BPD has participated in, called #9pmroutine. The idea is to establish a routine at night where you doublecheck that you have locked your vehicle, turn on outside lights, and confirm you have locked the doors and windows in your home. However, despite our best efforts, property crimes still happen. We will not always be able to recover whatever property was stolen, but citizens can make recovery more likely by having serial numbers or identifying marks on their property. If you can provide officers with the model and serial numbers from your electronics, it makes it easier to determine to whom the property may belong. That is why we recommend citizens collect the model and serial numbers from all their electronics and other valuables and suggest citizens use 
    ReportIt. ReportIt is a private database where citizens can create an account and log all their serial numbers, and if you are the victim of a theft, you can log in from any device to provide a list of the stolen items serial numbers to police. ReportIt is private; no one except for the account holder will have access to the stored information. It is completely free, so create your account here.

    Counterfeit Electronics

    Counterfeit products are fake replicas produced in a manner that is increasingly difficult for consumers to identify, which is why we recommend always purchasing from a reputable source or directly from the manufacturer. This is the best way to ensure avoiding counterfeits. It's not always easy to spot a fake, even when it's side by side with the genuine product. However, it's important to know the clues that can help you spot a fake.
    • Labels with missing punctuation or misspellings
    • Different fonts or icons
    • Blurred logos
    • Poor grammar or typos on packaging and/ or products
    • Sale at an improbable location for the product, particularly street vendors
    • Low quality packaging
    Above all, if the deal sounds too good to be true, and the price is far lower than what you'd expect, it probably is too good to be true! You can report any suspected intellectual property theft to the BPD or by visiting this website.

    Police and Fire Alarm Ordinances:

    The City of Burlington adopted a Police and Fire Alarm Ordinance in an effort to make alarm response more effective. The ordinance brings the city in line with alarm policies in surrounding municipalities and gains control over a problem with excessive false alarms within the city. The main focus of this ordinance is to require alarm subscribers for businesses and residences to assume responsibility for their alarms. Alarm subscribers are required to obtain a permit, providing information on the alarm system as well as emergency contacts. You can view more information here.

    Alarm Ordinances:

    These ordinances are in effect as of July 1, 2004. We offer an online alarm registration here. 
    • Failure to Obtain Alarm Permit - All alarm systems shall be registered with the City of Burlington. Any person or firm that fails to register an alarm system with the City of Burlington, Alarm System Coordinator shall be subject to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00).
    • Excessive False Alarms - Four or more false alarms within a permit year is excessive
    • Failure to Respond - If a key holder does not respond within thirty (30) minutes of the alarm, it will be counted as a false alarm. Failure to provide up-to-date contact information can also result in a "failure to respond" situation of a false alarm.
    • Civil Penalties - Excessive false alarms for any alarm system within a permit year shall subject the alarm user to a civil penalty according to the following schedule:

    How to Avoid False Alarms:

    Considering the advanced technology utilized by modern home security systems, it may be surprising to learn that the vast majority of calls to police are false alarms. In fact, at least 90% of security system alarm calls prove to be unnecessary. Fire alarms are also susceptible to false alarms often due to a low battery, a loose electrical connection, high humidity, or dirt in the sensor chamber. They require maintenance just like any other household product. Frequently, the most common false alarms are due to human error, which homeowners can easily avoid by following the following tips thus avoiding embarrassment and a potentially costly situation.
    • Keep your batteries up-to-date - An alarm running on low battery may act erratically or trigger a false alarm. Systems will typically indicate low battery via high pitched beep
    • Educate your family on how to use the system - Teach all residents how to properly use the security system and how to cancel an alarm. Make sure everyone is aware of the password. Don't forget house guests either. They should be able to cancel an alarm if the situation arises. It may be useful to let trusted neighbors know the password as well, just in case.
    • Be mindful of pets - If motion detectors are not installed adequately out of reach, adventurous cats or other household animals may be able to climb enough to set off a false alarm.
    • Be sure to close all windows and doors - A door or window anywhere in the house that is left open even a crack can set off an alarm in the case of a slight breeze.
    • Have your system installed professionally - It may be tempting to skimp on installation costs by doing it yourself, but poorly aligned sensors and other technical problems can lead to a false alarm.

    Railway Safety:

    Burlington is home several train crossing locations. Therefore, the Burlington Police Department wants to help keep everyone safe when it comes to trains. Remember that the trains cannot stop, but you can. So heed all signage and crossing arms. If the bar is down, wait around. It takes a train traveling 55 mph more than a mile, the length of 18 football fields, to stop. It is illegal to drive around lowered crossing arms. If you suspect any part of the railroad crossing system may be malfunctioning, including lights and crossing arms, please contact the Burlington Police Department using the non-emergency number (336) 229-3500. If your vehicles stalls on the track, first get out and clear the tracks, then contact the BPD. The NC Railroad Company provides these safety tips for railroads:
    • "You cannot accurately judge the distance and speed of an oncoming train. Never try to 'beat' a train."
    • "Only cross tracks at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings."
    • "All train tracks are private property - trespassing is illegal and highly dangerous."
    • "Do not walk, run, cycle, or operate ATVs on railroad tracks, bridges or property, or through tunnels." 
    • "Never drive around lowered gates - it's illegal and deadly." 
    • "If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, get out and clear away from the crossing." 
    • "Quieter technology makes it less likely that you might hear the approach of a train." 
    • "Stay alert around railroad tracks. Do not text, use headphones, or have other distractions." 
    • "A train can extend 10 feet or more beyond the steel rail; always stay at least 100 feet" away. Always assume railroad tracks are in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks unused."
    • "A train can appear at any time. Freight trains do not travel at fixed times."

    Halloween Safety:

    The BPD has some tips on how you can have a safe and fun Halloween. Below are some useful safety tips as well as a fun video series to get you ready for Halloween. Make sure you talk to your kids about how to be safe and follow these tips so your Halloween is a treat. Our thanks to Hollywood Horror Show for their help in these videos.  View these Halloween tips and more, by downloading the National Crime Prevention Council's kit. Teach your children about "Stranger Danger" and to never enter someone's house or car, to report any suspicious behavior of an older person, and you should escort young children yourself or take them in groups. You can consider organizing a big Halloween party at a school or community center in lieu of trick or treating. To keep children safe in the streets tell them to only walk on clearly marked sidewalks or paths and cross the street only in marked crossings and to look left and right. They should know not to take any shortcuts, especially through a backyard, alley, or playing field, be specific. Don't let children use ear buds or any other electronic device that may impede hearing. 

    You can arrange for a neighborhood watch group, PTA, or scout troop volunteers to patrol the area. Kids need to know not to eat their treats until they get home. (One way to stop them is to feed them a substantial meal before they go out.) Then check out all treats at home in a well-lit place. Try to get children out while it is still light out and provide them with flashlights. You can give them glowsticks to make them visible to motorists and give them a set time to be home. For their costumes, you should make sure it is fire-retardant and that it is the right size to prevent trips and falls. Apply reflective tape to the costume and only cardboard weapons, plastic or metal objects can cause harm to another child.
    volunteer at 4th of july fireworks


    If you are interested in having a vacation check of your residence conducted while you are away, please come by the department during regular business hours. Below are some tips to keep your home safe while you are away:
    • Do not publicize the fact that you are going away
    • Put lights and a radio on timers
    • Burn an outside light all night, not just when you are away
    • Do not close your blinds or curtains, if you do not usually do so
    • Do not stop deliveries, have a neighbor pick them up for you
    • Make arrangements to have the lawn cut while you are away
    • Turn your telephone ringer down to low or turn on the answering machine. Do not leave messages saying that you are on vacation or when you will return home
    • Store items such as lawn furniture, garden tools, and hanging baskets in a secure area of your residence
    • Ask neighbors to look out for your residence while you are away
    • Consider asking a neighbour to park a vehicle in your driveway during your absence
    • Leave a phone number with your neighbour where you can be contacted in case of emergency

    Child Seat Laws:

    There are a variety of different restrictions and rules regarding the type of seat or restraint your child needs when riding in a vehicle. All children under 16 years of age must be properly restrained in all vehicle positions. The Burlington Police Department frequently hosts car seat checks, so check our Facebook or website for the date and location of the next event. You can view the child seat laws here.

    Active Shooter Safety:

    According to the FBI, there is a disturbing rise in the number of "active shooter" incidents across America. The FBI is basing its conclusion on data collected by a Texas State University researcher that was exclusively obtained by Scripps News. The data shows the number of active shooter events in the U.S. has tripled in recent years. Based on this information provided by the FBI and confirmed by other sources, the Burlington Police Department wants you to know certain things about how to protect yourself during an active shooter incident. You might find it helpful to review some of the resources provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

    Additional Link(s):

    Firearm Safety:

    There is no magic solution that will eradicate, teen suicides, or accidental with firearms in the home. We can, however, reduce the likelihood of these tragedies occurring. The National Crime Prevention Council with various partners, developed a public education campaign that urges firearm owners to "Lock It Up". Safety advocates recommend that you safely store firearms from unsupervised children, at-risk youth, potential thieves, and those who intend to harm themselves or others. Please report lost or stolen firearms to local law enforcement. You can report illegal firearms to Gunstoppers.

    Selling your firearm safely is part of firearms safety. Every day responsible gun owners take certain safety measures. You ensure they are used and stored safely to help protect yourself and others. Selling your firearm safely can help achieve those same goals. Using a federal firearms license (FFL) can provide a secure process if you want to transfer your firearm to another person. It provides several advantages such as third party location for the transfer, assurance of a background check on the buyer, and it helps law enforcement trace the firearm to the buyer if it is ever used in the commission of a crime. Visit Sell with Certainty for more information on how to safely sell your firearm.

    Safety Tips for Firearm Handling:

    There are basic tips to follow when you handle and/or own a firearm. Remember to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire, and treat every gun as if it were loaded. Listed below are some more safety tips:
    • Help keep guns out of the wrong hands by securely storing firearm when not in use
    • Store ammunition in a locked location separate from firearms
    • Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting
    • Safe storage options like gun locks or safes are available for all home situations
    • Hiding a gun is not secure storage
    • Talk to your children regularly about gun safety
    hs career day 3

    Parents, Talk Gun Safety with Your Children:

    It is important to start a dialogue with your children about what to do if they find a gun.
    • Walk away and tell a parent if your friend shows you his parent's gun
    • Tell an adult if you hear someone say that they are going to bring a gun to school
    • If you're not sure why a gun is dangerous, talk to a parent or guardian about it.
    • Remember, if you see a gun to 1. Stop 2. Don't touch 3. Get away 4. Tell an adult
    • Tell an adult immediately if you see a gun in someone's backpack at school


    The Burlington Police Department is committed to protecting life and property within the City of Burlington by maintaining the safe movement of vehicles on City streets. The department seeks to accomplish this through education, enforcement, and by providing emergency assistance to motorists. In efforts to support our commitment to the community, the Burlington Police Department wishes to remind motorist that the 2019-20 traditional school year for Alamance -Burlington Schools has commenced.

    The department is urging motorists not to drive distracted and to be mindful of school-aged youth near the roadways at bus stops or on sidewalks. Let's protect our students and slow down, leave earlier to avoid congested roadways, be respectful of other motorists, especially school buses.
    Buses will be prevalent on roadways during the peak traffic times both before and after school; so know the law as it pertains to the passing of school buses. You can view this helpful School Bus Stop Law Diagram to better understand what to do when you see a stopped school bus.

    For All Drivers:

    • Do not pass a stopped school bus with the stop arm displayed and lit.
    • Yield to pedestrians who are in a crosswalk. NC law requires it.
    • If a vehicle is stopped, do not pass it. Expect that they may be stopped for pedestrians.
    • Avoid distractions while driving such as putting on makeup, eating, or using electronic devices while operating a vehicle.
    • If near a school, bus stop, or playground - slow down because it is likely pedestrians will be there.

    For Students Who Walk/ Bike to School:

    • When crossing a street, make sure to look both ways. Do not cross until there are no cars coming. Never assume a car will stop for you. If you cannot see the road for a long way in both directions, pick another spot to cross.
    • Do your best to use intersections with crosswalks and obey your crossing guards
    • As you walk near a road, do not let your electronic device distract you. 
    • If there is a sidewalk - USE IT. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and stay as far off the road as you can.
    • If you ride a bike - always wear a helmet.
    • If you bike - you must obey the rules of the road - stop at lights and stop signs.
    • If you bike and you must cross a street, walk your bike across at an intersection
    • Wear bright and/or reflective clothing

    For Teen Drivers:

    • Avoid distractions like playing your music loud or using electronic devices.
    • Remember: cell phone use while driving is illegal for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • If you are a provisional license holder, you cannot have more than one passenger in your car at a time.

    For Parents Students who Walk/ Bike to School:

    • Walk with your child to school the first few days. You should ensure the way is safe. Take time to teach your child how to avoid or naivgate any problem areas
    • Consider meeting with other patents and teaming your child up with other children and have them walk together.


    Each year the Burlington Police Department, in partnership with the Burlington Fire Department, Alamance County EMS, and Alamance County Rescue, presents the Prom Promise programs. It is designed to raise student's awareness about the harmful effects of drinking and driving. The program has a mock car crash and examples of how drunk driving can hurt everyone, not just the driver.

    Additional Link(s):

    Keeping our children safe is everyone's responsibility. Remember this - "It only takes a second of distraction to incur a lifetime of consequence." Please be safe. For more tips, check out the links below:

    oper medicine drop

    Safe Medicine Drop:

    Citizens are encouraged to safely dispose of unused or expired medications as a part of Operation Medicine Drop,  a partnership of North Carolina Safe Kids, lead by the NC Department of Insurance, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. During Operation Medicine Drop events, people can drop off over-the-counter drugs, prescriptions, samples, and pet medications with no questions asked. Law enforcement partners will dispose of the medications in the same secure way they dispose of other drug items. Drugs should not be flushed or thrown away in the garbage because they may contaminate water sources. You may drop off your unused or expired medications at the police department year-round any time during business hours. Please drop off the medications in their originals bottles if possible but remember to remove any personal information from the label.

    Community Watch:

    It is a crime prevention program that involves citizens working with each other and with law enforcement agencies to reduce crime and victimization in their communities. It is basically neighbors watching out for each other. Its intention is to make criminals aware that if they commit a crime in a Community Watch Neighborhood, it will be reported to the police. It involves community members protecting themselves and their property by using common sense crime prevention practices and neighbors getting to know each other, watching out for each other, and acting on or reporting suspicious activities. You can start your own community watch by contacting Officer Bobby DavisHe can provide you with the necessary materials and offer technical advice. Then Set up a meeting with as many neighbors as possible. Plan to meet in a church, school, or in someone's home. This Crime Prevention Kit is an excellent resource.


    Citizens can sign up here to receive non-emergency updates from the city, tailored to your interests. You can receive crime prevention tips and crime alerts as well being able to sign up for severe weather and other types of notifications. Visit Notify Me to make sure your contact information is up to date, so you can keep up with the Burlington Police Department and with the City of Burlington.

    Fireworks Safety:

    The BPD is committed to ensuring everyone' safety and an enjoyable 4th of July. It is important to be aware of the ramifications of setting off illegal fireworks, ones that shoot into the air, and the effect they have on your neighborhoods. Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fire per year. They can increase PTSD symptoms for veterans and survivors of gun violence. They can increase anxiety and stress for pets. In 2017, the CDC issued a report that showed 12,900 fireworks related injuries or burns, $43 million in property damage and an average of 7 deaths each year. More information.