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Be a tough target

A little foresight and some common sense can protect you from becoming a crime victim. Try these tips.

Put in a purse only what you can afford to lose:

  • Carry only as much cash as absolutely needed.
  • Limit credit cards to one or two. Keep a written record of account numbers and phone numbers to call in case your cards are lost or stolen.
  • Carry only one or two checks and note the numbers on a separate piece of paper you keep at home.
  • Tuck your purse under your arm like a football.
  • Never hang your purse behind your seat in a restaurant or a movie theater.
  • Carry as few keys as possible.

When driving:

  • Keep your car doors locked.
  • Put packages in the trunk.
  • Plan the route to your destination and stay on main streets.
  • Take a map with you.
  • Have a full tank of gas.
  • Stay in your car with the doors locked and windows up if your car breaks down.

If your car is being followed:

  • Drive directly to the local police station or to any well-lighted area with lots of people. Don’t isolate yourself.

At your destination:

  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • Avoid walking alone.
  • Have your keys ready as you return to your parked car.

When you’re on foot:

  • Stick to well-traveled streets; avoid isolated shortcuts, like alleyways or wooded paths.
  • Switch direction or cross the street if you think someone is following you. Walk toward an open store, a restaurant or a lighted house.
  • Don’t wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
  • Appear calm and confident. Give the impression that you know where you are and where you are headed.

In general:

  • Always stay alert to your surroundings, whether you are walking or driving.
  • Avoid dark or isolated areas, such as stairwells.
  • Scream “fire,” yell, honk your horn or do anything you can to draw attention anytime you feel threatened or scared.
  • If you are accosted, react quickly while the attacker is in less control. Act immediately—time and surprise are on your side. Have a self-defense spray handy.
  • Trust your instincts. If someone makes you feel uneasy, get away from him or her.