Everyone needs to take responsibility for the safety and security of themselves and their families. There are many things that you can do to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of crime. These steps are usually small and reasonably effortless. I will cover several areas of concern over a series of posts.
It is all very well to say that you pay for police protection via your taxes but the reality is usually that the police are not around when crime occurs. There are various reasons for this, most are not the fault of the police. It is rare for a police officer to have a crime occur in front of him/her The criminals are looking out for a police free area to commit the crime in the first place and it is easier for the criminal to see the marked police vehicle than it is for the police officer to see the criminal.
A venue with security is better than one without, but professional criminals know that on the whole, the security officer is there to observe and report rather than prevent and apprehend, so the well prepared criminal can commit a crime without too much concern over (immediate) arrest.
Today’s post will concentrate on vehicles.
Your vehicle feels like an extension of your residence, but it is not. First and foremost, don’t have provocative car stickers or license plates. Strangers don’t need to know what you support or like. The worst type of sticker to have on your vehicle is the pro gun sticker, the gun range sticker, the gun manufacturer sticker or any other hints that you support firearms. The major reason for this is that criminals love guns and pro gun stickers lead them to suspect that you have a firearm in your vehicle. Criminals will break into your vehicle just on the chance that they may find a gun. Political bias stickers or license plates may invite vandalism or worse. The same principle applies to this, why tell strangers who you are and what you are thinking anyway.
Christmas shopping season is not so far away. When you go to the Mall, try to complete all of your shopping in one go. Don’t go back to your vehicle multiple times, loading it up with merchandise on every trip back to the car. If you don’t follow this advice, at least make sure that the items that you buy are not visible in the unoccupied vehicle. Put the items in the trunk, or at least cover the items up to hide what they are if you put them in the passenger compartment. You can be sure of this one thing, someone is watching. It is all common sense, but you would be very surprised to find out how many people have never thought of such simple preventative steps. Of course, always lock your vehicle when you are away from it, always, no excuses, regardless of how close you may be to the vehicle.
Lock your vehicle doors at all times when you are driving. Most vehicles now do this automatically and you have probably never thought about it. Check the doors the next time you drive your vehicle, see if they lock automatically and if they don’t, get into the habit of locking them. It would be wise to check the doors anyway because some auto locks are a little quirky. If you are a passenger and stay in a parked vehicle alone, as may happen if the driver makes a pit stop at a store etc, lock the doors while you are in it.
When you park your vehicle in a public place, try to park as close to the building doors as possible. This ensures a constant flow of people past your vehicle, criminals don’t like this and they will go to an easier target in a more quiet area. In the evening or at night, also find the area with the most light. Directly under a light is best. Security cameras are ok, but they don’t deter criminals as much as you may think.
When you approach a place that you will be parking your vehicle, be aware of who is around, if you feel at all suspicious, keep driving. Although this post is about vehicles, it also involves driver and passenger safety. Sometimes the criminal is interested in people rather than property and sometimes people are just mentally ill and will do the unexpected for no reason at all.
Don’t insult other drivers on the road. Don’t give them hand signals that convey your displeasure, no matter how much you think they deserve it. This also goes for verbal messages, yes, the other driver can not hear you, but most derogatory words when accompanied by facial expressions can cause offense, and your message is easily understood. This behaviour can sometimes result in a violent response, even from otherwise law-abiding people.
When you park up at the gas pump, don’t leave your purse, cell phone, wallet or any other desirable item in plain view on your passenger seat, and make sure that your doors are locked while you are filling up. If you don’t like the vibes of the gas station that you pull into, trust your instinct and go somewhere else. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is.
If you have a garage at home, use it. It will add an extra layer of protection to you vehicle. When you park in your garage, close the garage door before you get out of your vehicle.
Don’t ever leave your vehicle running when it is unoccupied, regardless of where you are. There is no reason for this and it is an offense in most places anyway.
My advice is to drive an inconspicuous vehicle, do a little research into areas that you may have to go to, ones that you don’t know well, and be aware of what is going on around you. Take simple precautions like locking the vehicle, keeping packages out of view and keeping your doors locked, and remember that everything is always alright until, suddenly it isn’t, especially in areas that you know well and feel comfortable in.
In the next post, I will look at home security.