How to be Streetwise

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Three Basic Rules:

  • Stay Alert.  Keep your mind on your surroundings - who's in front of you and who's behind you.  Don't become distracted.  If you're worried about crime, ask a friend to accompany you when you go out.
  • Stand Tall and Walk Confidently.  Communicate the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
  • Trust your instincts.  If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.

Walking:

  • Choose well-lighted and busy streets.  Avoid passing vacant lots, alleys, construction sites, deserted streets, and wooded areas.  Take the "long way" if it is the safest.
  • If you must carry a purse at all, carry it close to your body and keep a firm grip on it.  Wallets should be carried in an inside coat or side pants pocket, NOT in a rear pants pocket.
  • Don't flaunt expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
  • Don't overburden yourself with packages and groceries that make it hard to react.
  • Always have emergency money for cab fare, bus fare, or a telephone call.
  • Have your key in hand as you approach your car or home.
  • Know your neighborhood.  Where are the police and fire stations? Find out what stores and restaurants are open late.
  • If you feel you're being followed by someone on foot, cross the street and head for the nearest well-lighted populated area.  Walk quickly or run to a house or store to call police.  If you are scared, scream for help. 
  • If you are being followed by someone in a car, change direction immediately and make a point of writing down the license plate number.
  • NEVER hitchhike.

Driving:

  • Keep cars in good running condition to avoid breakdowns.
  • On long or unfamiliar trips, plan your route in advance.  Have enough gas and money to get there and back.
  • Don't leave purses or briefcases on the seats; try to hide them or put them on the floor.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If you see another motorist in trouble, signal that you will get help and then go to a telephone and call police.
  • If your car breaks down, raise the hood, use flares, or tie a white cloth to the door handle.  Stay in the locked car.  When someone stops, ask them to call the police.
  • Park in well-lighted areas that will still be well-lighted when you return.
  • Always lock your doors when leaving the car.  Check for people in the back seat or on the floor before you get back in.
  • Be alert and careful when using underground and enclosed parking garages.
  • If you feel you are being followed while driving, drive to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station or business, or well-lighted residence where you can safely call police.  Try to get the car's license plate number and description.  If no safe areas are near, honk the horn repeatedly and turn on your emergency flashers.

 Public Transportation:

  • Use stops that are well-lighted and popular.  If your stop is isolated, have someone there to meet you.
  • While waiting, stand with other people or near the token or information booth.
  • Make sure you know which stop is closest to your destination.  Check a map or ask the driver or conductor.
  • Try to sit near the bus driver.  Take a seat in the subway car near the conductor.  Sit on the aisle with packages and belongings away from the flow of people.
  • Stand back from the curb or platform edge, and avoid sitting near an exit door.  An attacker can reach and grab a purse or jewelry as the train or bus pulls away.
  • Don't fall asleep.  Stay alert!
  • If you are harassed by anyone, attract attention by talking loudly or screaming.
  • Be aware of who gets off the bus or subway with you.  If you feel uncomfortable, walk directly to a place where there are other people.

Elevators:

  • Look in the elevator before getting in to be sure no one is hiding.
  • Stand near the controls.
  • Get off if someone suspicious enters.  If you're worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something and don't get on.
  • If you're attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.

Biking, Running, and Outdoor Activities:

  • Plan routes in advance.  Make sure that they are safe and well populated.
  • Vary your route and schedule.
  • Avoid running and biking at night.
  • Don't wear stereo headphones.  It's safer to remain alert to what's around and behind you.
  • Consider carrying a whistle or a shriek alarm.

Other Streetwise Tips:

  • Never carry a key ring or case with your name or address on it.  If your keys are ever lost or stolen, this information could be used to burglarize your home or car.
  • Try to let someone know where you will be at all times.  That way if you have an accident, a friend, family member or co-worker will know where you were supposed to be and come looking for you.
  • Carry emergency money for a cab or bus fare and an emergency phone call.

If You Are Victimized:

  • Remain Calm.  Try not to panic or show any signs of anger or confusion.
  • Get a description.  Make a conscious effort to look at the attacker carefully so you can give a good description to police.  Try to remember things such as age, race, complexion, body build, clothing, height and weight, hair, eyes, or unusual features.
  • Call the police immediately.  Identify yourself and your location.  Contact your local victim assistance agency to help you deal with the trauma that all crime victims experience.  They can also help you learn about victim compensation laws and how to follow your case's progress.

Street Crime Prevention:

  • Make sure street lighting is adequate and parks, vacant lots, and alleys are free of debris and graffiti.  Places that look as though no one cares attract crime.
  • Get together with your neighbors and the police department to start a Neighborhood, Apartment, or Business Watch.
  • Volunteer to escort a friend or neighbor who goes to work or class at night.

If you see a crime being committed, call the police and stay with the victim until they come. Be supportive and offer to accompany the victim to the hosptial or police station. How would you feel if you needed help and no one volunteered?