Ladies – you have to be careful out there. There are criminals lurking, waiting to steal your purse, your car and even worse. According to the Department of Justice, 2.3 million women were attacked in 2003 – those are the most recent statistics available.
Fortunately, 1.5 million of them escaped without being seriously hurt. The other 34% weren’t so lucky. So how can you stay safe? Nancy Grace, a correspondent for Headline News, has been fighting crime for 20 years – 10 of those as assistant district attorney in Atlanta, prosecuting murderers, rapists, armed robbers and more. And she says you shouldn’t be paranoid, but do look at your life through the eyes of a criminal. Here’s what he looks for, courtesy of the researchers at Condé Nast Publications.
- A home that’s easy to break into. If you rely on a doorman or security camera to keep you safe, you’re fooling yourself. A criminal stakes out your building for its flawed security: an unlocked window to the laundry room, a staticky intercom that leads lazy tenants to just buzz in anyone. Do your own surveillance before a criminal does. Look for obvious things, like broken locks – and some not-so-obvious things, like a vent that could double as a step to a second-story window. Then demand that your landlord fix them – and don’t rest until he does. And it seems obvious but it bears repeating – lock your doors. Grace says she’s always shocked by the number of women who don’t bother with this safety tip – that takes all of a second to do.
- You’re preoccupied. A prime target for a criminal is a woman who’s distracted – she has her hands full when she’s getting in or out of her car, or talking on her cell phone - especially after dark. This makes you vulnerable. Instead, you need to be aware of your surroundings and act tough, even if you don’t feel brave. Police officers are taught to use what’s called “officer presence” – straight back, assertive look and commanding posture. If a woman has her own “officer presence” when she’s in public, she’ll armor herself with that “no-one-messes-with-me” attitude. And when walking to your car, have your keys out beforehand, never carry things in both hands and DO NOT wear headphones. Hearing is one of the strongest senses – so don’t waste it.
- Forgetting about safety when you’re in a fender bender. Law enforcement officials say predators are using a new trick. A guy follows a woman in a car, then once they get to a deserted road, he “accidentally” bumps her. When the woman gets out to investigate the damage or exchange information, the man forces her into his car and drives off. You should NEVER get out of your car if you’ve been rear-ended unless there are other people around. If you’re in a deserted area, call 911 and ask them to send an officer.
- You leave your drink at the bar. You sip your cocktail and then set it down to hug a friend, or head to the karaoke mic. Then you come back to finish it. BAD IDEA! Trinka Porrata is a former LAPD narcotics officer who now runs Project GBH – which offers information on the drug GBH, which can make you pass out, and other drugs criminals slip into women’s drinks to take advantage of them. And she says turning your back on a drink is highly dangerous. If you neglect if for even just a couple of minutes, treat it like a piece of food that’s fallen on the floor. Dump it and get a fresh one.