Tuesday, April 15, 2014

3 Property Crimes That Put Your Personal Safety at Risk

Although crimes like theft, burglary and robbery are property driven, they can easily cross the line and pose a threat to your personal safety. Criminals may use resort to tactics like intimidation, threats or force to take property as their level of desperation increases. In addition, opportunistic acts of assault, kidnapping and rape can occur in combination with these crimes, so our safety may be threatened even though the perpetrator’s original objective may have been property. 


When it comes to theft, the best way to protect your property is to keep it out of sight. Leaving things like cell phones, laptops, shopping bags, purses, etc. in plain sight inside your vehicle will almost surely result in theft. We recommend that you keep these items in a trunk or at least make an attempt to conceal them within the vehicle. If you can’t picture how a theft from your vehicle might threaten your safety, imagine walking out of a dark mall and catching a thief breaking in to your car. Now you’ve startled him and become a witness which can turn a nervous thief into an opportunistic or violent thief. Now he may threaten you to keep you quiet, kidnap you and force you to take money out of an ATM or attempt to sexually assault you. 

Find creative ways to reduce accessibility...

If someone tries to take property directly from you (i.e., mugging, purse snatching, pick-pocketing, etc.) that crosses the line and becomes a higher level crime like theft from a person or robbery. In some cases, victims are injured by being thrown to the ground or dragged by a perpetrator. You can prevent the temptation for theft by being aware and vigilant and by employing some of these strategies:

  • Wrap your purse strap across your body so it can't be easily snatched.
  • Keep the compartments of your purse zipped up tight.
  • Connect the strap of your purse to the child safety mechanism in your shopping cart.
  • Take any credit cards or checks you won't be using out of your wallet.
  • Keep cash and credit cards in a zipped pocket or a separate pouch that you keep closer to your body.


Safety experts generally advise that you comply with demands that do not put you or others in physical danger and use techniques to protect yourself or another only when there is an imminent threat of physical harm. In situations where you are reasonably certain the offender only wants your property, it is generally safer to give it to him or her to avoid a physical confrontation. No piece of property is worth risking your life.

Remain calm and listen…

The best thing you can do if you are robbed is remain calm. In order to comply, you need to understand the robber's demands so do your best to listen carefully.

Don't make sudden movements…

The commonly circulated advice that you should throw your wallet, purse, money, keys, etc. in one direction and run in the other might sound like a good idea, but offenders who typically commit robbery are high strung and nervous, so sudden movements like throwing things are more likely to escalate the situation. Comply quickly, calmly and smoothly and communicate any potential surprises (i.e., movements, other people, etc.) with the robbery.

Defend yourself if necessary…

The use of physical force or weapons can be involved in robberies, so the decision to use any kind of defensive techniques must be based on the fact that you or someone else will be seriously injured or killed if you do not take action. Key in on the actions, words and demeanor of the robbers to help you determine the level of physical threat they pose to you. Every situation is different, so you will have to rely on your best judgment to make this determination.


Your home is the one place you should always feel safe…

If you’re thinking a crime like burglary doesn’t pose a threat to your safety, you should know that Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that 7% of the estimated 3.7 million household burglaries that occur each year involve some form of violent victimization. It’s not uncommon for burglaries to occur during the day time and it may be a surprise to you that many burglaries occur when people are at home. If burglaries occur when the home is occupied, it’s generally because someone opens the door and lets the burglar in or the burglar pushes his way in. Recently, there has been a disturbing trend of burglars ringing doorbells to see if people are home and finding a way to break in if no one answers.

Recommended strategies to prevent burglaries:
  • Secure your house or apartment using the suggestions in the free downloadable Home Security Booklet offered by USA on Watch.
  • Don’t open the door to people you don’t know or were not expecting and be sure to teach your kids the importance of this safety rule.
  • Whether you choose to answer your door or not, become vigilant when someone knocks or rings the doorbell. Look out your window and keep an eye on the people until they leave.
  • Keep your phone close in case you need to call for help and teach your children how to call 911 if they need help.
  • Report vehicles that are out of place and/or people in your neighborhood who are acting suspiciously or display behaviors like those described above.
  • If you have weapons in the home, make sure they are easily accessible to you, but safely out of the reach of young children. 
  • Prepare a safe room in your home that you can run to if someone breaks in.

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