Plan ahead so that when you walk you are very visible to other people. This means that if you must walk alone, choose open, well-lit, and well-traveled areas. Crooks don't like to strike where eyewitnesses can provide the police with a detailed account. Leave your purse at home if possible. If you must carry one, hold it firmly, close to your body. Pursesnatchers prefer to grab from behind.
If you walk or jog, especially at night, consider getting a dog that can accompany you. Criminal offenders relate that a dog is one of the most effective crime deterrents. Contact the Northeast Nebraska Humane Society at 375-3784 for information on pet adoption.
If you work late hours, arrange to leave at the same time as a co-worker. Try to avoid parking far away from your work site. Be aware of your surroundings at all times by making eye contact with passers-by and glancing occasionally behind you. This type of "body language" will make you less attractive to a prospective mugger. If you sense that you are being followed, change directions or cross the street. If the person persists, run to the nearest place where you'll find people.
Don't allow a stranger to follow you to your doorstep. Go to a public place where you can call the police whenever you feel threatened. When fleeing from danger, alert others as well as the person posing a threat. Yell, "Fire...Fire...Fire!" or activate an alarm device such as an aerosol shriek alarm. This device is a hand-held noisemaker that, when carried, may dissuade a crook from choosing you in the first place.
Avoid fumbling for your keys; have them in your
hand as you approach your car. Always check the back seat for uninvited guests
before getting inside. Keep enough gas in the tank so you won't get stranded.
Keep all doors locked and windows rolled up most of the way. Stay on
well-traveled, well-lit roads. If you are being followed by another car, drive
into an open gas station, stay in your car, and ask the attendant to call the
police. Better yet, drive straight to the nearest police station for
assistance. Park only in well-lit areas at night. Check for strangers who might
be "casing" the area before you exit your car. Honk your horn and
drive away if such a person advances toward you. If you are
"rear-ended" by another vehicle, motion for the driver to follow you
to a public place. "Bump and rob" artists stage such accidents to
lure unsuspecting drivers out of their cars to rob them of their wallet or
purse. If a driver won't follow you, obtain as thorough a description as you
can and report the incident to the police. If your car breaks down, seek a
phone or call box only if safe to do so. Place a "Call Police" banner
in your rear window and raise the hood. If a "good Samaritan"
approaches, crack a window and ask them to call the police or your tow company.
Check for signs of forced entry such as broken
glass, a torn screen or pry marks before venturing inside. Make it a habit to
leave a few dollars out in the open near your entryway. Back out quietly if you
see the money is gone. NEVER feel reluctant to call the police
if you sense the possibility of an intruder inside. Screen all strangers
knocking at your door. Interview them through a one-way peephole while your
door is locked. Anyone who refuses to present his or her driver's license or
employee ID upon request should be reported to the police. Properly secure all
openings at nighttime. "Cat burglars" are deterred when the only
means of gaining entry would require breaking glass or smashing a door. Don't
assume that upper floor windows are too high for a burglar's reach.
If You Are a Victim
are unavoidable. When you consider that 4 out of 10 violent crime
victimizations by strangers involve an armed offender, it's vital that you be
prepared to minimize your risk of injury. Be willing to give up your valuables.
A purse, wallet or jewelry is not worth fighting for when facing someone
wielding a weapon. Carry only as much cash, as you need. If confronted, try to
stay calm. An assailant will be less likely to attack you if you appear controlled
and self-confident. Try to mentally note your assailant's appearance without
staring. Use physical self- defense techniques only as a last resort to protect
yourself when attacked. Go to the phone and dial 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Let
the police operator take charge and instruct you. Remember, your quick actions
in notifying the police will increase their chance of apprehending the suspect
and preventing future victims.
Being the victim of a violent crime can have lasting emotional effects. If you are a victim, don't suppress your feelings of anger or frustration. If you are the friend or relative of a victim, lend your emotional support by being available to listen.
There are a number of agencies that provide support to victims of violent crime. The Wayne Police Department has a listing of the local agencies. For more information, call the Wayne Police Department at 375-2626.