At Home

The best way to minimize the risk of attack is by taking sensible precautions.  Most people already do this as part of their everyday lives, often without realizing it.  You are probably already aware of some of the precautions listed below, but some may be new to you, and you may find them useful.

  • Lock your door when you leave, even if you are only going next door.  A surprising number of thefts occur while the resident has just stepped out for ” a minute.”  It only takes about 8 seconds for a thief to walk into your open room and steal your valuables.
  • Lock your door when you are asleep.
  • If you wake to the sound of an intruder, only you can decide the best way to handle the situation.  You may want to hide quietly to avoid attracting attention to yourself, in the hope that they ill leave.  Or you may feel more confident if you turn on the lights and make a lot of noise by moving around.  Even if you’re alone, call out loudly to an imaginary friend, most burglars will leave empty handed rather than risk a confrontation.  Call the police as soon as it is safe for you to do so.  A telephone in your bedroom will allow you to call the police immediately.
  • Use only your first initial and last name in the telephone directory, on your mailbox, and on your door. That way a stranger won’t know whether a man or woman lives there.
  • If you see signs of a break-in at your home, don’t go in– the burglar may be inside.  Use your cellular phone, or go to a neighbor’s house and call the police.
  • When answering the telephone, if the caller claims to have a wrong number, ask him or her to repeat the number desired.  Never tell them your phone number!  Never reveal any information about yourself to a stranger and never say you are alone in the house.
  • If you receive abusive or threatening telephone calls, hang up immediately.  If the calls continue notify the police and your telephone company.  Keep a record of the date, time, and content of each phone call.
  • Persons requesting to use the telephone should not be allowed in the house under any circumstances.  Even a small child could be an accomplice to a burglar.
  • Doors should not be opened to anyone who does not have business on the inside.  Repairmen and others who claim to have business on the inside should show positive identification.  Any doubts regarding identification should prompt a call to the individual’s company or superiors, to be verified.  Be sure to look the number up yourself, use the phone book.
  • Never leave notes on your door that will inform a burglar that no one is home.
  • When called by a stranger, do not give out information about who is at home, who is out, and how long they will be gone.

Safety When Out and About

  • A cellular phone is the best crime prevention tool available.  Carry a cellular phone with you whenever possible.
  • Be alert to your surroundings, including the people around you. Walk confidently and always keep at least one arm free.
  • Carry your bag or purse close to your body with the strap over your shoulder.  Do not place the strap over your head, it could then be used to drag you to the ground.  Carry your keys in your pocket.  If someone grabs your bag, let it go.  If you hang on you could get hurt.  Remember your safety is more important than your property.
  • When walking, running, or cycling try to vary your route and times. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Stay on roads and walkways that are well lighted and are not obstructed by overgrown trees or shrubs.  Stay in open spaces where you can see and be seen by other people, avoid wooded areas and don’t take shortcuts.
  • If you think someone is following you, check by crossing the street, more than once if necessary, to see if they follow.  If you are still worried, go to the nearest place where there are other people and call the police.

Vehicle Safety

  • Always lock the doors, leave the windows rolled up and take the keys, even if you’ll be gone only a short time.  Keep packages, purses, and other expensive items out of site.  Items left in full view invite theft even if the vehicle is locked.
  • Have the key in hand when approaching your vehicle.  Check inside the vehicle before entering and immediately lock the doors once inside.  Keep the doors locked while driving.
  • Keep your car in good running condition, and be sure you have plenty of gas.
  • If your car breaks down, stay in the locked car.  If you do not have a cellular phone, put a “call police” sign in the rear driver side window.  Do not raise the hood, it will obstruct your vision.  When someone stops to help, don’t get out.  Ask him or her, through a closed or cracked window, to telephone the police.
  • If you’re coming or going after dark, park in a well lighted area that will still be well-lighted when you return.
  • Be especially alert when using enclosed parking garages.  Don’t walk into an area if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Leave only your ignition key with a parking attendant.  Don’t leave your house key or other keys on the key ring.

Wallet or Purse Theft: Some Good Advice

  • Photocopy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. that you carry in your purse of wallet and keep them in a safe place.  That way, if your purse of wallet is stolen you will have a record of each card that is missing including the account number and the phone numbers to call and cancel.
  • If your wallet or purse is stolen, you should cancel you credit cards immediately and file a police report as soon as possible in the jurisdiction where the theft occurred.  This proves to the credit providers that you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation.
  • One of the most important thinks that you can do is to contact each of the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number.  The alert means that any company that checks your credit will know that your information was stolen, and they must contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

The numbers are:

Equifax:  1-800-525-6285
Experian (formerly TRW)  1-888-397-3742
Trans Union:  1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration – Fraud Line:  1-800-269-0271

Telephone, Door-to-Door, and Street Solicitations

The Better Business Bureau offers these guidelines regarding solicitations.

When you are approached for a contribution of either your time or your money, ask questions, and don’t give a donation until you’re satisfied with the answers. Charities with nothing to hide will encourage your interest. Be wary of their reluctance or inability to answer questions.

  • Ask for the charity’s full name and address. Demand identification from the solicitor.
  • Ask if your contribution is tax deductible. Contributions to tax exempt organizations are not always tax deductible.
  • Ask if the charity is licensed by the state and local authorities. Registration of licensing is required by most state and many communities. However, bear in mind that registration in and of itself does not imply that the state and local government endorses the charity.
  • Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot or allow a “runner” to pick up the contributions; the charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.
  • Watch out for statement such as “all proceeds will go to the charity.” This can mean that the money left after expenses, such as the cost of written materials and fundraising efforts, will go to the charity. These expenses can make a big difference, so check carefully.
  • When you’re asked to buy candy, magazines, cards, or tickets to a dinner or show to benefit the charity, be sure to ask what the charity’s share will be. You cannot deduct the full amount paid for any such items, as the Internal Revenue Service considers only the part above the fair-market value of the item to be a charitable contribution. For example, if you pay $10 for a box of candy that normally sells for $8, only $2 can be claimed as a charitable donation.
  • Call your local Better Business Bureau if a fund raiser uses pressure tactics such as intimidation, threats, or repeated and harassing calls or visits. Such tactics violate the Council for Better Business Bureau’s recommended Standards for Charitable Solicitations.

Things Men Can Do

  • Men can help by taking the issue of women’s safety seriously in their everyday lives, keep these points in mind.
  • If you are walking in the same direction as a woman who is alone, don’t walk behind her.  This action may worry her.  Cross the road and walk on the other side.  This may reassure her that you are not following her.
  • If you are thinking of talking to a woman waiting, for example, at a lonely bus stop, remember that she won’t know that you mean no harm.
  • Realize how threatening actions such as staring, whistling, and passing comments can be, particularly when you are one of a group of men.
  • Help female friends or family members by giving them a ride or walking them home when you can.  If you do, make sure they are safely indoors before you leave.