By Greg Norred, CEO, Norred & Associates, www.norred.com
Over the course of your life, the chances of being the victim of a crime are at least one in three, higher if you live in a large city, and higher still if you’re a woman. The criminal’s objective is to maximize gain and minimize risk, and he’ll usually pick the easiest target with the most to offer. Given these odds, it pays to take precautions by following some basic safety rules:
1. Don’t be the easiest target with the most stuff. Travel in pairs whenever possible, stay in shape, consider self-defense classes, and wear flat shoes so you can easily run or fend off an attacker. Be conscious of your appearance; leave your expensive watch and glitzy jewelry at home when you go to the store. If you have a choice, drive an older car instead of a late model or luxury vehicle. Would-be criminals may choose a more promising target if you look like you don’t have much worth taking.
2. Monitor your surroundings. You could be as much at risk in the grocery store or office building parking lot or a public restroom as in a parking garage late at night. Keep your eyes on what’s happening around you instead of talking on your phone or texting.
3. Be prepared. Have your keys in hand when you approach the car; keep a can of mace in your bag and carry it, too, if you have a free hand.
4. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about a person or situation, pay attention; these gut feelings are usually on target.
5. Always give up your valuables. Be cooperative in surrendering your wallet, phone, etc., but if at all possible, don’t agree to get into a vehicle with your attacker. Letting someone harm or take your children is not negotiable.
6. Set boundaries. If you’re being followed, whether by a stranger or someone you know, point your finger, scream, and tell him to back off. This signals that you won’t be an easy target and may deter the attacker.
7. Sound the alarm. Scream or blow a whistle. If your attacker thinks help is on the way, he may leave. Plus, someone may come to your aid.
8. Run if you can. But if the thief has already taken your valuables and hasn’t left, assume the worst and use whatever you can find as a weapon: keys, a nail file, a pen, even your fingernails. Attack the most vulnerable areas, like the groin, windpipe, eyes, nose, or throat. The objective isn’t to win a fight. Instead, your goal is to make it more trouble than it’s worth for the attack to continue and secondarily to attract attention and assistance.
Greg Norred is CEO of the largest and oldest Atlanta-owned security company. Norred & Associates began as a one-man firm in 1981 that specialized in employment-related investigations for management. It has grown into a full-service security firm with more than 1000 employees nationwide.