Criminals are opportunists. A lone figure, walking alone at night, especially an elderly person, can seem like an easy robbery target. You probably try to stay out of this situation, but sometimes it’s unavoidable – you had a late-afternoon doctor’s appointment and the parking garage is dark and deserted when you get out, or you had to park down a little too far down the street when meeting friends for dinner. So how can you avoid becoming a victim when you find yourself in this situation? It may help to think like a criminal – they want to avoid getting hurt and getting caught, and they can quickly size up pedestrians and prey on those who look vulnerable. But if you look and act like someone who might put up a fight or draw attention to the incident, you’re less likely to become a target. Here are a few more ways to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Choose well-lit areas
Criminals don’t want to be seen, so simply staying in a well-lit area where everyone can see clearly what’s going on is a deterrent. If you’re driving, try to park close to your destination and under streetlights or parking lot lights.
Stick with the crowd
Even if you’re technically out by yourself, there is in safety in numbers. Criminals don’t want witnesses, so try to avoid unpopulated streets, parks, and parking lots.
Stay in areas you know
Plan where you’re going. If you know the area, you can plan your route and even know safe spots on the way where you can pop in if you think someone might be following or targeting you.
Don’t carry it all
If you’re out shopping, don’t overload yourself with tons of shopping bags. Having your hands full or walking clumsily can make you look like a target. Also, instead of a large, bulky bag, carry a smaller purse that you can keep close to your body or even wear under a jacket or coat.
Don’t display cash or other valuables
Before you leave a store or restaurant, put your money and cards away and out of sight in your purse or pocket. Leave large or flashy jewelry at home.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Actions like walking while looking down at your phone can make you seem like an easy target. The same goes for wearing headphones or rooting around in your bag – if you’re distracted, a thief might notice.
Walk this way
The way you move can send signals to potential thieves. Walk confidently but comfortably and take forceful, dynamic steps. Aim for a medium length, natural-feeling confident stride. Walk with your chin up and shoulders back, taking in your surroundings.
Tell someone where and when you’re going
If you need to be out at night alone, just let a friend or family member know where you’ll be and when you plan to be back. Give them a quick call when you get in to let them know you’re safe.
If you are attacked, your first goal should be to get away from the attacker immediately. Learning some basic self-defense moves can help you slip out of an attacker’s grasp and can also teach you the criminal’s most vulnerable points. Your next goal is to start making a scene. Make noise to draw attention to yourself and the situation. You can carry a whistle that can scare away the attacker and attract the attention of passersby. Also consider carrying a phone equipped with an automatic connection to 911 that you can trigger as soon as you feel like you’re in danger. Stay alert and stay safe!