Protecting Yourself From Crime
Most crimes are "crimes of opportunity". A criminal often targets the easiest home to enter, the easiest car to break into, or the easiest purse to snatch. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a more serious crime such as assault, sexual assault, or robbery, is to avoid dangerous situations. Most criminals want easy targets, so making it tough for them will reduce your risk. You can reduce your risk of becoming a crime victim by reducing the opportunity. Here are some ideas:
Basic Street Sense
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Send the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
- Trust your instincts.
- Know the neighborhoods where you live and work
On Foot - Day and Night
- Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets.
- Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
- Don't flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
- Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps.
- Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not in a back pocket.
- Don't wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
- Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
- If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk towards an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If you're scared, yell for help.
- Keep your car in good running condition.
- Always roll up the windows, lock car doors, and never leave valuables in plain view.
- Avoid parking in isolated areas. Be especially alert in lots and parking garages.
- If you think someone is following you, don't head home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station, gas station, or other open business to get help.
- Don't pick up hitchhikers.
- Never leave your car running while unattended.
If Someone Tries to Rob You:
- Don't resist. Give up your property; don't give up your life.
- Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from being victims.
Check the Locks
Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply entered through unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?
- Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed, one inch throw, dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or placing a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door.
- Give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
- Keep the garage door closed and locked and always lock the connecting door to your home.
- Don't leave an extra key under a doormat.
Check the Doors
A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.
- All outside doors should be metal, metal clad or solid wood.
- If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
- Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains are easily broken and offer a false sense of security.
Check the Outside
Look at your house from the outside; make sure you know the following tips:
- Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
- Keep your yard clean - prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide doors or windows.
- Clearly display your house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.
- Create the illusion that you're home by setting some timers that will turn your lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening.
- Don't leave ladders or tools outside that a burglar could use to gain entry.
There's More You Can Do
- Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one doesn't exist, you can start one with help from local law enforcement.
- Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away from home. Rather than saying "I'm not home right now," say, "I'm not available right now."
- Work with neighbors and local government to organize community clean-ups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to criminals.
- Be suspicious of strangers who appear out of place or who ask about your schedule or plans.
- Be aware of telephone calls with no apparent purpose and hang-up calls. This can be a ploy used by criminals to identify target homes.