As a youth, I was actively involved in the Boy Scouts, which is where I learned the importance of being prepared. It’s the Boy Scout motto. That mindset transitioned with me into my career as a law enforcement officer.
As a police officer, I teach people the importance of being prepared and staying safe. Not necessarily for the end of the world, but how to protect themselves from crime, or how to be prepared and what to expect should they find themselves a victim of crime.
Chances are that at some time in your life you, a family member, or a friend has been a victim of a crime. It is a very unfortunate part of not just our society, but of humanity. Because of that, I want to convey some general tips and steps you can do to protect yourself.
The most important tip is to always be aware of your surroundings. Stop texting for a moment and take in what is going on around you. Criminals prey on those who look lost, distracted, and/or weak. So pay attention to your environment. Appear confident. Act like you are in control and are moving with a purpose. Don’t look like an easy target!
There are tens of thousands of muggings and assaults every year in the US. Here are a few more tips to help you avoid becoming a victim:
1. When exiting a building heading to your car, have the key you need to unlock your door already in your hand. Don’t be distracted at your car by fumbling around in your purse or pocket for your car keys.
2. Criminals look for victims that appear to have money or valuables. Avoid wearing flashy, expensive items. Or at least be discrete with them. Carrying large sums of money is not a great idea for obvious reasons.
3. Avoid using ATMs when alone and/or at night. If you need to use one, try to find one in a busy area like a grocery store. Thieves HATE witnesses!
4. Stick to well-populated areas. If you are visiting or are new to the area, try to learn about the area before venturing out into the unknown.
A majority of crimes committed today are crimes based on opportunity. What that means is that the Ocean’s Eleven highly planned and thought-out crimes are not common. Instead, most criminals don’t put much planning into their crimes, if any at all.
Criminals didn’t scheme when they stole your car. You left it parked in the street, running to warm up while you go back in the house to finish getting ready for work. They didn’t see anyone else around, so they decided “it’s time to go on a joyride.” You presented them an opportunity and they took it.
A car is stolen in the US about every 30 seconds. That is almost 1.2 million stolen cars a year! But here are some tips you can do to reduce the likelihood that your car is one of them:
5. ALWAYS lock your car. Over half of all stolen cars were unlocked at the time they were taken. Lock your car even when driving. (There are almost 50,000 car jackings every year in the US.
6. Never leave your keys in the car, and never leave a spare key in/on the car. Almost one in five stolen cars had a spare key in the car.
7. Don’t leave anything of value in the open in your car. Hide them, place them in the trunk, or cover them with something like a blanket.
8. Don’t rely on only a car alarm. They are so common now that most are ignored. And thieves can break a window and steal your contents in less than 20 seconds. Not much an alarm can do about that.
When parking in a large parking lot (like at the mall, supermarket, etc.), I always try to park beside a tall street lamp. This is smart for a couple of reasons. First, when you leave the building and walk to your car, it is easier to remember where you parked, and those tall lamps are easy to see. Second, if you are delayed for some reason and are now leaving and heading to your car when it is dark, your car will be illuminated. You will also be able to see better if someone is hanging around your car. And finally, the light at night helps to detract thieves from messing with your car. Like I said, they hate witnesses.
These are not 100 percent guarantees that you won’t be a victim. But as the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
What tips would you add to the list?