Ten ways to avoid being a crime victim

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

I just got an e-mail from a friend whose other friend who was robbed two days ago at a local grocery store. I read the account of what happened, and it could have easily happened to me. And I should know better, having more background in law enforcement than the average person. So here are some tips, both for your benefit and to remind myself, on how to avoid being a victim of a crime while out in public.

  1. Keep your head up. If you are aware of your surroundings, you are more likely to spot potential trouble. But there's more to it than that: an alert, confident person makes a very unattractive victim. Criminals like easy prey — the person not paying attention, the person acting nervous, the person not able to react quickly.
  2. At the grocery store, accept "help out." The grocery store where the robbery took place always offers to help me out to my car, and lately I have been accepting because it's hard to load both the car and the kids. There are crime-prevention reasons to accept help, too: First, you will be with another adult, which is a deterrent to criminals. Second, having help to load your groceries — especially if you are also loading up small children, are pregnant, or have any physical handicap — will make you less vulnerable. Criminals see distractions as opportunities.
  3. Keep your car locked. You should lock it even if you are getting out just for a minute — in fact, especially if you are getting out just for a minute. This leads to the next tip...
  4. Never leave your purse or other valuables in the car. Again, this is true especially if you are getting out just for a minute. Criminals know you are least likely to lock up and most likely to leave valuables behind if it's only for a moment. They patiently watch for opportunities, and they move fast.
  5. Be extra vigilant at school, day care, or the gym. These are situations in which women are likely to leave their purses behind, either because they are just running in to pick up their kids, or because they don't want to have to rent a gym locker. Bad plan: Criminals know that these are common habits. Even if you do lock up, they won't think twice about breaking your side window to get to your valuables.
  6. Don't store your car keys in an obvious location. Burglars like to check the garage for easy-to-steal getaway vehicles. If you keep your keys in an obvious location like a key hook or basket near the door of your house (or worse, in the car itself), you may lose your car if your home is ever burglarized.
  7. Don't leave your car running. In cold climates, car thefts skyrocket in the winter because people leave their cars running to warm them up. Even if you lock the doors, a car thief finds this situation irresistible. This is even more important if you have kids in the car. Don't leave it running so the kids can have air-conditioning while you step out. If you will be gone long enough for them to need air-conditioning, then you will be gone too long for them to be left alone, anyway. Which leads to the next tip...
  8. Never, ever, ever leave your kids unattended in the car. Not even older kids, and not even for a few minutes. You will not believe what can happen to them. I know of one person who was left in the car when she was a tween and was targeted by an exhibitionist pedophile. Thankfully, he did not make contact, but she will never forget the image.
  9. If you are targeted for a property crime, don't fight back. Some of us would never fight back, but others, like myself, are likely to be impulsive and try to defend our property. This behavior, unfortunately, is what can turn a theft into an assault.
  10. If, God forbid, you are assaulted, don't let yourself be transported to another location. This is a situation in which you should fight back. If your attacker takes you somewhere else, they are likely planning to murder you. Act accordingly.

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