How to avoid becoming a crime target

When the topic turns to being a crime victim, we all tend to think it won’t happen to us. And if it does, we tell ourselves that we know a thing or two about “handling ourselves.”

But with a little preparation and “handling” things beforehand, we can stop a victim scenario from playing out. Consider these checklists.

Handling valuables

Keep valuables and boxes or bags that may be perceived as containing valuables out of view in your car and from the front windows of your home.

Have regular income, such as payroll checks and monthly pension or Social Security payments, sent to the bank for direct deposit. When visiting the bank, vary the time and day of the week.

Carry your wallet, cash or credit cards in an inside jacket pocket instead of a back pocket. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Handling your car

Always lock all car doors immediately upon entering the vehicle. As the driver, if you are seated and waiting for passengers to enter, lock the driver’s door.

When fueling your car, manually unlock your driver side door to keep the other doors locked. Many cars unlock all doors when you exit the vehicle, leaving purse, packages and other valuables ripe for the picking by criminals ready to sneak into an unlocked passenger side door.

Choose a parking spot that will be well lit when you return. Move tempting items from the passenger compartment to the trunk. When returning to your car, watch for anyone hiding behind nearby cars. Look at the back seat and floor before entering your vehicle.

Handling your home

When entering your home, always lock the door behind you. Thousands of crimes could have been prevented had this simple rule been followed.

Consider investing in home security. Look to your insurance company’s minimum security requirements. Some companies make suggestions to clients based on losses in their area. The best outfitted home will make the neighbors’ home seem more attractive to an opportunistic criminal.

Keep dangerous objects that an intruder might use against you, such as firearms, out of sight and locked away. Look through the peephole or a window before opening your door. Ask strangers for identification before you open the door.

Get to know your neighbors and join a Neighborhood Watch program. When going out, lock all entry points. Leave outside lights on or set timers. Leave a radio or television on and a few room lights.

Handling your phone

Never share personal information with a person you did not call. It can start with your identity. If a caller asks, “To whom am I speaking,” the secure response is to ask whom they are trying to reach.

Games and apps are fun when commuting on a bus or train. But when you are completely focused on a phone, you are not aware of your environment. Also, the device is just resting in your hands, waiting for someone to snatch it and run off the train just before the doors close.

Staring into a phone while walking down the street is just as bad. Assuming you don’t trip over anything, a person walking past you from the opposite direction can snatch your phone and be 10 feet away at a full run before you can figure out what happened.


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