Just a few weeks to go (at the time of writing there are only 65 days) and Christmas is here again, and it’s the time of year when apart from the joys of GIVING, it’s also the time of TAKING – for thieves.
So be careful when out & about, be careful when shopping, and be careful when visiting restaurants and bars, and friends and families.
When faced with problems on the streets, most people are too stunned to do anything. Few of us think about our personal safety while traveling from place to place, so do something now to counter any threat. Often it is a quick and aggressive, pre-planned response that’s lifesaving – even if our actions are not perfect. Consider options in advance, so a surprise is less likely, allowing you to do something quickly & confidently, changing the outcome of an event.
PRACTISE SECURE THINKING & PLANNING
- Be aware that it’s possible.
- Be alert to what’s happening around you.
- Have a few simple plans in the back of your mind to meet different problems.
- Once a threat is developing, act quickly & CONFIDENTLY.
There is no point carrying around too much personal information that may leave you open to IDENTITY THEFT. Crooks would love to get their hands on your personal details to apply for credit in your name.
- Clear your wallet and handbag of everything except essential items. Do you really need to be walking around with your passport as well as your National ID card, all your credit & debit cards, driving licence, bank statements, credit & debit card receipts etc.?
Is the ATM in a secure area? Are the environs well lit?
- Lock the door when you are using an ATM machine.
- Ensure that no one can see you entering your password. Cover the keypad with a free hand.
- Withdraw money during the day instead of late at night or in the dark early morning hours.
SHOPPING & ON THE ROAD
- Keep bags closed and carry them securely. The best way is in front of you with the strap secured over your shoulder
- Do not walk around talking on your cellular. If you have to make a call, be brief. Better yet, step into a shop and finish your call.
- STOP driving around chatting away on your cellular oblivious to everything & everyone around you. Is the call really important enough for you to selfishly endanger yourself and others on the road?
- Do not listen to personal stereos when walking on the road or in the plazas.
- Do you think someone is following you? Go inside a shop.
- Do not take short cuts through car parks/alleyways. Stay on the main, and amongst people.
- If walking on your own and someone is bothering you, find safety in numbers/in an office/in a shop. Do not be shy about talking loudly. MAKE NOISE! And lots of it! People will hear and come to your assistance.
- Separate the money you carry – leave larger bills hidden. Always carry a small amount of cash that can be handed over if confronted by robbers.
- Have the keys in your hand when you approach your car, with the pointed part protruding through your fingers. Do NOT stop at the door searching for the keys.
- Manage bags in your hand – keep one hand free at all times.
- Place bags and shopping in the trunk of the car, or on the floor behind you, well out of sight of passers by.
- Lock car doors the minute you get inside.
- Keep car windows up far enough so that no one can push their hands inside and unlock the door.
- Walk in the middle of the sidewalk, away from the edge of the road and passing vehicles/motorbikes/bicycles. And stand back from the curb when crossing the street.
- Look out for motorbike riders, especially when there are 2 people.
- If a car stops and someone inside calls you over, keep your distance and keep walking.
- When you get home ensure you have the door keys IN YOUR HAND. It is foolish to be waiting at the door while searching for your keys. If they’re in your bag or pocket, then they’re no use to you whatsoever.
- If you have a padlock on the grill, do you always place it in the same position so that you automatically know what way to be pushing the key into the padlock?
- Have you done a lot of shopping? Rather than filling both hands with bags and struggling to find the front door keys, make a few trips instead. And as you get into your house lock the door.
- Carry a personal attack alarm. Or a loud whistle.
- Going to a restaurant or a bar? Park in the restaurant’s car park. Is there adequate security? Find out!! And ask for an escort to your car, as all good places provide security as part of their customer service.
- Even if you’re in a hurry, look around before exiting a vehicle.
- Keep to busy main roads especially at night.
- Do not get too close to the vehicle in front of you. When you stop in traffic give yourself enough space so you can drive off without having to wait for the vehicle in front of you to move.
- Do not stop to provide help if you see an accident. Call the Police.
- When stopped at traffic lights, do not open purses or wallets in front of windscreen cleaners/vendors/newspaper sellers. Keep small change in the ashtray or dashboard.
- At all nightspots, whether restaurant, club, bar, etc., there are those who will offer to watch your car. If you do not require this service say so firmly and politely. If you are going to tip them do not display wallets, purses, etc. ALWAYS KEEP SMALL CHANGE READILY AVAILABLE.
- If there are any strangers/cars at or nearby your gate when you get home, do not stop to investigate. Call the Police. Take notice of vehicles driving behind you. If the same vehicle has been with you for a while do not stop at your gate. It is better to drive around the block to ensure your safety.
- If you get a puncture late at night, rim your vehicle to a secure area (nearby hotel, gas station, Police Station, etc) rather than stop and attempt to change the tyre.
There is too much going on for us to take a nonchalant attitude to life. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. For overall security, including your own personal safety, pay close attention to everything around you. Being absorbed in a book, cellular call, personal music player, newspaper, or other distractions can give thieves significant opportunity to approach, study, and strike.
Look at the people and environment around you. Notice things out of the ordinary. A good sense of what is normal and what is unusual in your surroundings could be more important than any other type of security precaution you may take. START THINKING CONSCIOUSLY about safety & security, about protecting yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbours, your work colleagues and your community.
GET INVOLVED, GET AWARE AND GET ACTIVE.