Tips for thwarting burglars and thieves

By Bob Harris

The following information was printed in a previous Community Board 8 newsletter. It is designed to give you information to help you prevent thieves and burglars from stealing from you. I have added a few of my ideas.

When traveling, always be alert to your surroundings because criminals often target people who are distracted. If possible, stay in a designated waiting area, or in view of a booth with a clerk if there is one. Never stand or walk near the edge of a platform or in a dark area or close to buildings. Travel in busy, well-lit areas, and with a friend or two, if possible.

When driving, make sure your car is in good working order and has a full tank of gasoline. Keep your doors and windows locked and valuables out of sight or covered. Before getting into your car, look in the back seat to make sure no one is hiding there. If you leave your car, make sure the doors are locked and any packages or other valuables are in the trunk.

When going shopping, plan your purchases in advance. Only take the amount of cash you will need and only the credit cards you will need. You should carry large amounts of money in separate places in your clothes. Cancel any credit cards you don’t need. Keep the number of credit cards you do use in a separate, safe place so you know which ones to cancel it they are stolen. Carry your purse close to your body with one end in the palm of your hand and the other in the bend of your elbow. Never wrap the strap around your hand or your body because a strong thief, or one on a motorcycle, can grab the purse and drag you.

If you are carrying a wallet, secure it in your breast pocket of your jacket or in your side pants pocket. The rear pants pocket is the easiest to pick. Some people put a large rubber band around their wallet or wad of money so it can’t easily be removed from a pocket. If you are buying gasoline and have to go to a cashier to pay, then do not leave your pocket book or wallet in the car. Always lock your car. Thieves who hang around gasoline stations are very fast.

When in a restaurant, don’t leave your purse over the back of your chair or on the floor. Always think of how thieves may strike, and don’t leave valuables unattended anywhere.

In an airport keep your bags in front of you so you can always watch them. If there are two or more of you, then one person should be designated to watch the bags when traveling. Make sure your bags are put on the bus or in the baggage room.

When entering your house, don’t wait until you get to the door to find your keys. Have them ready in your hand. A key can be a weapon if someone grabs you if you can reach their face or eyes. If a stranger is standing near your door or walking rapidly toward you, then don’t go in the house or an elevator. Get to the street where a passing person or car may just frighten the attacker away.

Learn a couple of self-defense techniques. Perhaps put a loud whistle on your key chain. Some people who are out late at night carry an air horn on the top of their pocketbook. Screaming may frighten a criminal away. When entering your house, lock the door immediately.

In all instances, remember to plan ahead!