When in public places, you must be aware of your surroundings, know how to spot danger, and know how to respond to possible dangers.
ICE (In Case of Emergency)
Keep your emergency contact numbers in your cell phone listed under "ICE "in your contact list. First-responders are trained to look for your emergency contacts under this listing.
How to spot danger in strangers
- As you are walking, glance around yourself from time to time.
- Watch for a change in behavior in when you near a person.
- Watch for a hidden or immobile hand as the person walks, it us an unnatural movement.
- Be aware of persons who try to match your movements, such as stopping when you stop and turning when you turn.
- Be aware of attempts to bait you and provoke a response, such as asking, "What did you say to me?" or "What are you looking at?"
- Watch for persons attempting to flank you, such as one person follows you after another person interrupts you.
How to spot signs of a public place being a target
- Same person retuning everyday for no apparent reason.
- Odd behavior.
- Unusual videotaping or note taking.
- Asking excessive questions.
How to respond to possible dangers
- Move away quickly.
- Do not get involved except to notify authorities.
- Report only what you personally witnessed.
- Do not wait; report it immediately.
At the Office
- It office may seem similar to a second home but it may not always be as secure. Take precautions when you are working late.
- Know your company's security procedure.
- Keep emergency numbers by your phone.
- Lock your door if possible.
- Do not go into the rest room if no one else is around; use the buddy system.
- Avoid using the elevator or stairwell with strangers.
In A Parking Garage
- Do not park next to a van's sliding door.
- Approach your vehicle with your keys already in your hand.
- Always have one hand free when carrying packages and never carry so many packages that your view is obstructed.
- Look around your vehicle for any suspicious activity. If you see someone loitering around your vehicle, walk past until he or she leaves.
- Do a quick scan of your vehicle's interior before unlocking the door. Be sure to look in the back seat.
- Be suspicious of anyone approaching your vehicle, whether passing out leaflets or asking for donations. Always leave the car windows up.
- At night, leave your office or building in the company of others. Do not leave alone after dark. If possible, have someone from your building security escort you, or call for police assistance.
- Keep your doors locked and your windows shut.
- Change from high heels to low flats or even sneakers when leaving work. They are better to run in.
- If you must leave a key with a parking attendant, leave only your vehicle's ignition key. Do not leave anything attached to it with your name and address.
- Keep a well-charged cell phone readily available.
- Lock doors and keep windows up.
- Keep your vehicle in good working order.
- Keep the gas tank at least half-full at all times.
- Park in well-lighted areas.
- If someone or something appears suspicious, have a notepad and pen available in your vehicle so you can write down license plate numbers. Drive to a well-populated area and report suspicions to the police.
- When you return, have keys ready before reaching the vehicle, as you approach glance under the vehicle, then check rear seat and floor, glance around the area, quickly enter the vehicle, and lock doors before inserting key in ignition.
- Never give a parking attendant, mechanic, etc. all your keys. Only give them the ignition key and know their names. Use color key identifiers so you may quickly identify which key you need with fumbling.
- NEVER pick up hitchhikers.
- Maintain your vehicle regularly, such as tune-up, oil change, etc. Fill your vehicle with gas during day light hours in a familiar area.
- Drive on a flat tire until you reach a well-lighted and traveled area.
- If vehicle breaks down, open hood, turn on flashers, tie a white cloth on antenna, stay in vehicle, and lock doors. If someone stops to help, do not get out of vehicle, open window slightly and ask person to call police or tow service.
- Do not leave your car running while you are in a store. Do not leave your keys in your ignition with or without your car running.
- If accosted or assaulted and have nowhere to run, consider going underneath a vehicle (not the one belonging to the bad guys. It is very difficult for them to remove or injury you from this location.
- If involved in a vehicle accident and have a cell phone, immediately call 911. If you feel uncomfortable due to location or darkness, tell the other driver through your window without opening your door that you have called 911 and will proceed to a well-populated area where the police are waiting. Note their license plate number and personal description on a note pad.
- If someone needs your help, do not stop. Call police at the next opportunity and let them help.
- Do not go home if you are being followed. Drive to the nearest fire station, gas station, or business, and honk your horn.
- Do not take lonely short cut roads.
- Fill vehicle with gas during daytime.
At Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
- ATMs are potentially dangerous anytime but they are especially dangerous at night, or when you are alone. Avoid using the ATM at night or in an isolated area.
- Scan the area before leaving your car to approach an ATM.
- At drive-up ATMs, keep the car in drive or in gear with the clutch depressed. Keep your foot securely on the brake. If something goes wrong, hit the accelerator.
- If a vehicle pulls out ahead of you and suddenly stops, the driver may be counting money or he or she may be trying to block you. Do not enter ATM area until way is clear.
- Only use ATMs in well-lighted areas in public view.
- Some criminals study the habits of regular ATM users. Do not visit ATMs on a schedule.
- If your ATM card is lost or stolen, you may be contacted by telephone. The caller may sound official and ask for your PIN number. Do not give the number. Instead, offer a reward if he or she turns your lost property over to the police, or meet him or her in a public place and bring a friend.
At Hotel or Motel
- Hotels and motels are prime crime areas. Criminals know you are from out of town.
- Call the front desk if someone suspicious is lurking about or tries to gain entry to your room, using some pretext, such as that he or she "must check your cable hookup."
- Many travelers fall victim to criminals posing as employees. Always verify employees by calling the front desk. Some criminals manipulate legitimate employees to gain access to your room.
- If you are going on a trip or are a constant traveler, purchase one or two portable door alarms that attach to the doorknob. In addition, purchase secondary locking mechanisms that may be used from inside the room.
- If you have valuables, put them in the hotel safe.
- If you suspect that something is wrong before entering your room, have an employee check it first.
- You can always have your room cleaned while you’ are present.
- Keep a "Do not disturb" sign on your door and a radio or TV playing while you are out.
- Always find out who is calling you in your room. Do not give your name until you are satisfied you have a legitimate caller. For example, if the caller says they are from room service, ask the caller's name and verify by calling room service.
- Keep conversations with cab drivers or hotel personnel courteous, but do not give out personal information. It may be used for criminal purposes.
- Remain sober while traveling.
- Beware of criminal impersonating police officers, especially when you know you have done nothing wrong. Examine badges and credentials carefully. Call the agency if you are unsure.
- If they want to place you in a vehicle or move you to another location or if you have doubts, be courteous and ask them to call for a uniform patrol car to respond.
- If you are in an unmarked car and something they say or do clearly tells you they are not real police, then crash the car.
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a police officer, find out which precinct he or she is calling from and call back to verify.
- If you are approached on foot by someone flashing a badge, demand a uniform patrol car.
- If you are driving lawfully and carefully in an isolated area and a suspicious unmarked car pulls up with a plain-clothes driver asking you to pull over, take no chances. Even if you see a flashing dashboard and single roof light, be careful. Signal to the suspect officer to follow you to a safer, crowded area. If you are stopped, request that a uniform patrol car be sent. Keep your car locked, windows up, and engine running. Ask for the phone number of his precinct. Call 911 if you feel you are in danger and let suspect see you doing it.
Avoiding Purse Snatchers, Pickpockets, and Muggers
- Carry your valuables such as license, keys, and credit cards separate from your wallet or purse, especially when traveling. Purchase a money belt or pouch that can be easily concealed. If a purse-snatcher grabs your bag, do not fight him or her. Many have been injured or killed because they valued their possessions more than their personal safety.
- Most street robberies are perpetrated by one or more criminals who use a diversion. It could be as simple as asking the time or some other question.
- Do not stop on the street. Keep walking and politely decline requests for information, directions, the time, or money. Say you are in a hurry or you have no money, whatever. If the person physically attempts to stop you, be ready to escape. If you cannot escape, be ready to fight.
- Keep in mind that you do not know if the person accosting you is working with an accomplice and setting you up for rape, robbery, assault, or murder. In the case of panhandlers in public places, you could have some loose change to drop, but do not ever go into your purse or wallet to get change.
- If you are walking and somehow become cornered by one or more people and your inner alarm goes off, then you should attack immediately and ruthlessly. As soon as you can, escape. Hit hard and fast, disable the one closest to you, push him or her aside, and run through the gap.
- Pepper spray has limited effectiveness against an enraged and determined attacker. Use it in conjunction with a defensive strategy: spray and run, or spray, hit, and run.
- Never jog with headphones on; you jeopardize your awareness.
- Stay away from unlit, thick shrubbery adjacent to trails and paths. Remain at least 10 feet away from the sides of buildings and parked cars as you round blind corners.
- Do not jog alone.
- Vary your jogging times and routes.
- Wear a personal alarm that you can set off with one hand.
- If you believe, at any time, you are being followed by a vehicle, turn around immediately and run in the opposite direction.