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Victims and Citizens Against Crime

"Standing Up For The Rights Of The Victim"


"We are fed up with crime-and we're doing something about it."

E-Mail us at vcac@bellsouth.net

 

HOW TO KEEP SAFE?

(precautions & common sense ways to insure your personal safety)

 

IN PUBLIC PLACES...

 

Be aware of your immediate surroundings. Usually people who are attacked are people who have not been paying attention to what's going on around them.

Convey confidence through body language. The perpetrator looks for a scared or easy target.

Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts. Nine out of ten times you're right.

In a hotel always leave excess money, travelers checks, jewelry, and other valuables in the hotel safe.

When in a strange town, make sure you get complete directions before driving. If you get lost, try to find a police, fire or service station for help.

When selecting off-premises dining or entertainment, ask for recommendations from the hotel. Find out if pedestrian traffic will be sparse during the time you expect to return and what kind of public transportation would be best for your destination. If you're driving and the hotel parking lot is a block or two away or is likely to be deserted when you return, take a taxi.

If you're suspicious of any approaching individual and you're standing with a group of people, make eye contact. Direct eye contact with a criminal usually will discourage him from attacking because you've taken away his element of surprise.

 

 

A. On the street...

 

Stay in well-lighted areas; walk mid-point between curbs and buildings, away from alleys, entries, and bushes.

Stay near people. Avoid short-cuts through parks, vacant lots, and other deserted places.

Carry only necessary credit cards and money.

Walk with someone whenever possible. Participate in buddy systems.

Do not stop to give directions or other information to strangers.

Never hitchhike.

If you are followed, act suspicious. Keep looking behind you and you may discourage the follower.

If someone is following you on foot, cross the street, change directions or vary your pace.

If you are followed by someone in a car, turn around and walk in the opposite direction. If they persist, record the license number and call the police.

If you Must carry a purse or handbag, keep it close to your body. This will minimize the chances of purse snatching.

If your purse is snatched, don't fight. Turn it over, rather than risk personal injury. Report the incident immediately.

 

 

B. On public transportation...

 

When using public transportation, arrive at the departing point no more than five minutes before scheduled departure.

Keep space around you while waiting to meet someone or waiting for public transportation. Don't get caught off guard. Use courtesy but keep moving slowly away from anyone approaching you.

On the bus or subway, sit near the driver or conductor, in a single seat or an outside seat. Stay alert and notice people around you. Move or change seats if you are bothered by someone who sits down next to you. Be alert to people who may follow you when you leave. If followed after getting off, head toward a populated, well-lighted area.

 

 

C. On an elevator...

 

Stay at the front of the elevator, near the side control panel that has the alarm button - on some elevators, pushing the alarm button STOPS the elevator. If someone suspicious gets on, push other buttons so that the elevator will stop at all floors. If someone suspicious is already on the elevator, stay out of it. Wait for the next one.

 

 

AT HOME...

 

Keep doors locked at all times, even if you are away for a few minutes. An unlocked door, during the day as well as at night, is an invitation to trouble. Remember that most losses occur during the day.

Burglars prefer to enter through doors, especially kitchen and garage doors, which are hidden from the street. Are yours kept locked even when you are at home?

Windows are the burglar's second choice. Install safeguards on every window that can be reached from outside.

Use the door peephole before permitting entry to anyone.

If you're unmarried, don't advertise the fact. For a phone book listing only use first initials to accompany your surname. Never put your first name on your mailbox.

Keep an accurate inventory of your possessions.

Engraving valuables is an excellent means of protection.

If you return to your residence and suspect that it has been illegally entered, do not enter. Call the police immediately.

Draw curtains or blinds after dark. Never dress in front of a window - your silhouette may be visible from the street.

The sight of valuables might tempt a burglar. Do not place purses, portable radios, stereos, television sets, or other such articles near windows - glass could be smashed and objects stolen.

Don't advertise - a note on the door stating you are not home is asking for trouble.

Be knowledgeable about various types of locks and security devices.

Replace locks when you move to a new house or apartment. You don't know who has keys from the previous resident.

Establish a buddy system with a neighbor. Each should be wary of anything out of the ordinary, in and around the other's premises. Let your neighbor know when you will be arriving late. Take in the other's packages, newspapers, etc., in the event of vacations or absences for more than a day. Arrange to have the grass mowed and the snow shoveled.

Notify the building superintendent if you leave for an extended vacation.

A well-lighted house tends to indicate activity at home. Utilize a timer for lamps or a radio to give your house or apartment an occupied look and sound. Separate timers coming on at different times are most effective.

All entrances to your home should be well-lighted. If you live in an apartment building, make sure all halls are properly illuminated; if they are not, notify the landlord.

Always keep your keys in your possession. Never place them under mats, over doors, or in any other obvious hiding place.

Never forget that strangers are danger. Do not hesitate to call your police department if you observe strangers loitering near your house.

People often answer the telephone incorrectly. Someone may call and ask for the husband and the wife says he's not at home. Has she just sent out the message that she might be alone? Instead, reply that he can't come to the phone right now and ask, "Who's calling please?" Others may call and ask, "Who is this?" or Is that_______________________?" Do not identify yourself to an unknown caller. Don't say yes or tell them your name. Simply ask who's calling.

Never answer personal questions on the telephone. Never admit that you are alone or that you live alone. If you receive an obscene telephone call, quietly hang up. Call the police and phone company if a threat is made or if obscene calls persist.

 

 

DRIVING A CAR...

 

Exercise caution when entering or leaving your car, and especially in parking lots and garages.

Keep windows up, doors locked, and your purse and other valuables out of sight. Lock valuables in your trunk.

Before entering, check front and back seats to see if anyone is hiding there. Make sure your car's dome light is operating.

Open windows just enough for ventilation, or to ask directions, but not enough so that someone could put a hand in.

Intersections and stop lights are common places for would-be attackers. Keep your car in gear and, if threatened, blow the horn in short, repeated blasts and drive away.

If you have car trouble, raise the hood and remain in the car with doors locked. If strangers stop, ask them to report your predicament to the police but do not encourage their assistance.

Never pick up hitchhikers.

It is not advisable to leave your auto registration, credit cards, and other important papers in the glove compartment.

Don't make the mistake of marking your key chain with your name, address or license number. Lost keys can lead a thief to your car or home.

If you suspect you are being followed, blow horn intermittently, put on your flashing hazard lights and drive to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station, or all night restaurant.

If someone flags you down, keep your windows up and doors locked and be cautious. Tell him you will send help.

Lonely parking lots can be dangerous. Drive around the lot before getting out of the car to see if anyone is hiding. Park in a well-lighted area near the lot entrance. Try to remain unencumbered with packages, keep keys interlaced between fingers, and have a noisemaker on the key chain. When returning to the car, look under, around, and in it before getting in.

Bump-and-rob scams are minor rear-end collisions, staged to assault a lone driver. If a rear-end collision occurs in isolated circumstances, look at the driver before getting out of the car. If there's a little old lady driving the vehicle, that's probably not bump-and-rob. But if you've got four guys in the car behind you ... and you feel there's danger ... do not get out. Drive to a police or fire station.

Equip your car with emergency provisions such as flares, water, a "call police" sign and a blanket for concealment or warmth. In the winter, carry a couple of candy bars and a snow shovel. If you get stuck in the snow, clear the snow away from the exhaust pipes and crack the window if you intend to run the heater.

 

 

WHILE CYCLING...

 

Smart cyclists are alert conscientious, and capable, acknowledging responsibility for the safety of pedestrians and motorists, as well as themselves.

Use reflectors, reflective tape, or other similar devices on cycling shoes, fenders, belts, frames, pedals, and handlebars.

Keep to the right. Ride with traffic, not against it.

Use hand signals to indicate turning or stopping.

Ride defensively.

Use bicycle paths whenever possible.

Walk your bicycle across busy intersections.

Avoid riding in bad weather.

Perform regular maintenance checks.

Wear appropriate clothing.

Park your bike in an open, well-lighted, frequently traveled area.

Secure it properly with recommended chains and locks. Kryptonite and Citadel locks are two of the best.

Register your bicycle with police department and engrave your license or social security number on your bike.

Report any suspicious person you may see loitering around bicycle racks.

 

WHILE RUNNING...

 

If you run at night or in the early morning when few people are around, run with a buddy.

Choose well-traveled running paths and be aware of any isolated areas you will run through.

At night, wear light-colored clothing or wear reflective markings.

If approached by a car while running alone, do not stop to give directions or answer questions. Leave the road and head for a populated area.

Caution! Listening to your headset may make you unable to hear approaching traffic, emergency sirens or any other danger signals.

 

 

IN THE OFFICE...

 

Plan to work when others are present, or when you have the best chance that someone will hear you if you need help.

If you must work hours when you may be isolated, arrange to work with another person in the same vicinity.

If cash is part of your work, ensure that the bulk of it is gone by the time you are alone in the office.

Lock yourself in if you must work at risky times. Make sure that others in your building cooperate to limit access after hours.

If you have clients entering your place of work, make sure that only the people you expect enter. Use an intercom or an electronically releasing lock if available.

Arrange furniture so that there is a barrier between you and someone who comes in...a counter, desk, etc. This helps give you time to get help or get away in an emergency.

Arrange furniture so that you can easily see the door and anyone who enters.

If you can't see the door, arrange some other signal to let you know that someone has entered. A bell on the door, or a buzzer will signal your attention.

Mirrors can give you a view of areas that might not otherwise be visible.

When concentrating, we tend to ignore information from our environment. Discipline yourself to pay attention to sounds which signal elevators, opening doors, etc.

If there is someone in your work life or otherwise, whose behavior has made you feel uneasy, avoid situations in which you may be isolated with him (i.e., you and he are the only ones working late).

If someone enters your office or place of work through the only door, it will be difficult to escape since he is likely to remain between you and the door. Is there another way out? How easily could you get to it? Is there another room or area to which you could escape, or call for help.

Carefully plan an escape route. Consider how long it will take to get to safety? Is the elevator slow? Turned off after hours? Could you find yourself locked in a stairwell? Trapped in a hall?

The most effective method of getting people to respond to cries for help is to give specific information and specific instructions "Help, Rape, Call the police!" Unless you are in imminent danger, the best thing for a helper to do is to call the police.

Develop an office emergency code. For instance, a reference to the "p file" means call the police. Working out such forms of communication, as well as plans of action, can help a group respond to a threat effectively.

The more you know the people who work around you, the easier it will be for them to be helpful. Make sure that your neighbors understand that if you call for help, you want them to call the police; if they notice something unusual, you want them to check it out.

If you have a telephone that stores numbers in a memory, place 911 in one so that you can call for help without paying much attention to the button you push.

How easy is it for the police to find you if you call? Will they find the entry door locked? With enhanced 911 service, it is usually the billing address that is indicated to the operator when the telephone connection is made. Is that sufficient information?

If you have the services of building or company security guards, how can you let them know that you need help?

Research indicates that women who resist both physically and verbally, stand a good chance of avoiding both the rape and serious injury.

Whether you resist, and how you resist, will depend on your personal resources and your personal values. Give some thought right now to what you would do in various situations that could arise. The more you have thought ahead, the more likely you will be to act in the way you've planned.

Have you taken a self-defense class? Do you think you could hit or kick someone who is attacking you? Do you know how to get away from someone grabbing you? What objects could you use to defend yourself? Hit an assailant with? Throw at an attacker?

According to the research, two types of verbal resistance seem to work better than others: Assertive-Get out of my office, right now! and bargaining-OK, I won't scream, just put the knife down.

 

 

AT SCHOOL...

 

Avoid working or studying alone in a building at night.

Avoid using stairs in remote sections of a building.

Keep your purse in a locked cabinet or drawer. Never leave it in, on top of, or underneath a desk.

Keep petty cash and stamps in a locked drawer.

Keep personal belongings in view while in class, the library or lab.

Never prop doors open, especially fire doors, for even a short period of time.

Mark all your possessions by engraving the items with your drivers license or social security number.

Secure computers and stereo equipment.

Do not remove rings to wash hands; they can be forgotten and/ or stolen.

Take your books with you if you are studying in the library and take a break. Book thefts during the bookstore buy-back period are common.

Do not permit entry into residence hall of people you do not know.

Never confront or ignore a stranger. If you see a suspicious person in the corridor or lounge, or if someone knocks on your door to solicit, call Campus Security. Most residence elevators and lounges are equipped with emergency telephones.

Always keep your keys in your possession. No lock will protect you if a burglar gets possession of your keys.

If you see a man entering, leaving, or in a women's lavatory, call for help at once. If you are inside, run out screaming. Don't stop to ask questions.

In a residence hall, screaming can sound like horseplay. In an emergency, be specific by shouting, "Help", "Police", or "Fire".

 

 

BANKING...

 

A. 24 hour tellers/ATM

 

Checkout the area surrounding the ATM before getting out of your car.

Have someone accompany you, if possible.

Park near the ATM in well lit area.

Memorize your PIN. Don't write it on your card or leave it in your wallet.

Fill out all deposit slips and other forms before getting to the bank or getting out of your car.

Don't display your cash. Count it later in the safety of your home or car.

If you notice or suspect anything suspicious, Leave. If you're in the middle of a transaction, press the cancel button, retrive your card and leave the area immediately.

If you think you're being followed after a transaction, go directly to a police station. Do Not go straight home.

 

 

B. Night deposit

 

Check out the area around the night depository before getting out of your car.

Have someone accompany you, if possible.

Park near the night depository in well-lit areas.

When depositing multiple bags, place one bag at a time into the drawer.

If you suspect you are being followed after making a deposit, drive to the nearest police station or a populated area.

 

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