Big Bend Crime Stoppers, Inc. is concerned for your safety and committed to educating the community on ways to protect yourself and promoting situational awareness. In most cases you are in control of the circumstances in which you place yourself. Just by being aware that you are a potential victim of a personal crime is the first step toward prevention.
The simplest measure you can take to protect yourself against crime is to adopt a “security conscious” lifestyle. The best prevention is precaution. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.
Personal Safety Tips
- Install quality dead bolts on doors, and keep doors and windows locked at all times.
- Install a peephole so that you can see who is outside without having to open the door.
- Never open the door to a stranger. Verify identification first.
- If a stranger asks to use your phone, offer instead to make the call. Do not let them into your home.
- Do not advertise the fact that you live alone.
- Women who live alone should use their first initials only in telephone directories, on mailboxes, etc.
- Never give the impression you are at home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door.
- Don’t reveal personal information to anyone on the phone or at your door. You are not required to participate in any surveys.
- Don’t hide extra keys near an entryway. Criminals are good at finding them.
- Have lights at all entrances to the home. Exterior lights should either be motion detector activated or controlled by a photo-electric cell.
- Don’t leave notice that you are out of town on your answering machine.
- Teach children never to open the door to a stranger or reveal information on the phone.
- Have your keys ready when approaching your home.
On The Go
- Plan and use the safest route to your destination.
- Choose busy, well-lighted streets. Avoid short-cuts or routes that pass by high-risk areas (i.e. vacant lots, alleys, abandoned buildings, etc.).
- Try to avoid isolated bus stops.
- Avoid walking alone whenever possible. Use the “buddy system”.
- Appear confident and purposeful when you walk and be aware of your surroundings.
- Stay out of reach if someone in a vehicle stops to ask directions.
- Be wary of approaching strangers.
- If followed or threatened by someone while walking, use your whistle or personal alarm, scream loudly, cross the street and run in the opposite direction.
- Never hitchhike.
- If you are in trouble, attract help any way you can.
- Do not carry large sums of money in your purse or wallet. I you carry a purse with a shoulder strap, be prepared to let it go if someone grabs it.
- Don’t leave a purse unattended, even for a moment. If female, consider carrying a pocket size credit card holder instead of a purse.
- Try to avoid using automated teller machines late at night.
- Don’t give out personal information. Consider getting a post office box.
- Don’t display large amounts of cash in public.
- At work, lock valuables in desk drawers or secured areas. (consider leaving them home)
- Avoid working late or odd hours. If you must do so, alert a security officer, family member or friend. Ask a security officer or co-worker to escort you to your vehicle.
- Drive with your car doors locked. Keep windows rolled up whenever possible.
- Never pick up hitchhikers.
In Your Car
- Park only in well lighted areas and look for suspicious person(s) prior to exiting your car.
- Keep your car in good running order. If it does break down, do not accept a ride with a stranger. Simply ask them to call some assistance for you and remain in your own vehicle. Similarly, do not offer a stranded motorist a lift, but rather call some assistance for them.
- When stopped in traffic, allow space between you and the vehicle in front of you in order to drive away if necessary.
- Carry the following items in your car: a flashlight, maps, fix-a-flat, blanket, first aid kit, empty gas container, a cellular phone, and a white cloth to tie to the door handle or antenna to signal distress.
- Have your keys ready when approaching your vehicle to reduce time needed to enter and be aware of your surroundings, (i.e. suspicious persons).
- Look in the back seat before getting into your car.
- If you are being followed, don’t drive home. Go to the police department or nearest fire station and honk the horn. Another option is to drive to an open business such as a convenience store. Don’t leave your vehicle unless you’re certain you can get inside the building safely.
What If It Happens To You?
When faced with danger, trust yourself. Stay as calm as possible. Think rationally, without panic. Evaluate your options. There is no one right way to respond to a confrontation. Every situation is different. The response depends upon the circumstances: location of the attack, your personal resources, the characteristics of the assailant, and the presence of weapons. There are many strategies that are effective but you must rely on your own judgment to choose the best one:
- No resistance
- Stalling for time
- Distraction and then fleeing
- Verbal assertiveness
- Screaming to attract attention
- Physical resistance
Always make a conscious effort to get an accurate description of your attacker(s) and call the police immediately.