Katy Beard from the Glastonbury Funeral Home gave a presentation at the Riverfront Community Center about staying safe while “out and about” that applies to anyone, of any age. “Older people are not the number-one victims of crime,” she said. “It’s actually younger people, but when a senior is attacked, it’s much more detrimental to their health.”
Beard said instincts and intuition are key, as is awareness of one’s surroundings, when trying to avoid being a victim of a crime. Simple changes, like where one carries their keys, can be the difference.
Beard said the commonly-made mistake is to carry one’s keys in a purse, but because that is also where ID is usually kept, if one is lost, so is the other. “Now they know where you live and they have your keys,” she said. “So maybe put your keys somewhere else. Put them on your neck with a lanyard, on your wrist with a wristband, or in your pocket.”
Purse-snatching, she said, can occur anywhere, and purse-snatchers are most often male, and can be young, because kids look innocent and can run fast. One important tip is to carry one’s purse so that the strap is on the same side as the bag, so that a more-serious injury doesn’t occur when tugged on by a thief. “Make sure you put it in a place where the purse can break away,” she said. “Everything in your purse can be replaced; you cannot.”
Beard also recommends carrying purses on the side away from the street, and trying not to carry very important items in a purse.
Pickpockets and purse-snatchers both often use distraction techniques, so awareness of one’s surroundings and belongings is crucial when dealing with strangers in public. “Somebody can drop something in front of you, and while you might want to help them, someone else can be taking your purse,” Beard said.
Parking lots are a ripe place for crimes, and there are a few simple tips to hopefully avoid them. “Even if it’s light outside, park under a street lamp,” Beard said, “because when you come out, it might be dark.”
When exiting a vehicle, check your surroundings and make sure you have everything you need before getting out of the vehicle. That way, you are not giving someone more opportunities to catch you when you are more vulnerable – while getting out of a car. It’s also a good idea to find an escort, which most businesses will provide if asked, when returning to one’s car, especially at night.
“Have your keys in your hand ready to go,” Beard said. “Don’t be fumbling in your purse or pockets or jacket. Have them in your hand so when you get to your car, you can open the door and hop right in.”
People should also be careful with remote locks, because they can sometimes unlock all of the car’s doors, giving criminals more opportunities to gain access.
When walking anywhere, it’s important not to appear lost, even if you are, Beard said. “Stay focused, even if you aren’t quite sure where you are going, and don’t ask a stranger where to go,” she said.
Car-jackings, Beard said, tend to have potentially more dangerous consequences than muggings. “Car-jackers are dangerous and they will do anything,” Beard said. “They may wield guns or knives – you don’t know.”
In traffic, drivers should not roll down windows to talk to strangers, and keep doors locked, especially when stopped. Drivers should also be sure to leave enough space between their car and the one in front of them, so that they have an escape route if trouble approaches.
In a parked situation, the best strategy is to surrender the car and/or keys and get to safety. “If you refuse to give somebody your keys, it could get violent, and you don’t want that,” Beard said. “If somebody jumps into the passenger side, you jump out of the driver’s side.”
As always, it’s good to realize that material things do not matter. “Cars can be replaced,” she said. “Your life cannot be replaced. If they want the car, give it to them.”
Beard said the program is one of several offered by the funeral home as part of their becoming more of a partner in the community and offering more than just funeral services. Glastonbury Funeral Home also has a DNA identification program for children.
“We want everybody to be safe,” Beard said. “This particular program is one of seven that we offer.” Other programs offered include one on home invasions and another on avoiding scams.
For more information, visit www.glastonburyfuneral.com.
More Safety Info:
- Safety tips offered to businesses following burglaries – Newnan Times
- Burglars’ tips for home safety when you travel
- Five safety tips for DIY home maintenance
- Program on home safety tips to be held
- Tips For National Home Safety Month