Personal Safety Tips

Personal Safety—Be Prepared

By taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the risk to yourself and also discourage those who commit crimes.

  • Always be alert and aware of the people around you.
  • Educate yourself concerning prevention tactics.
  • Be aware of locations and situations which would make you appear vulnerable to crime, such as alleys and dark parking lots.

Street Precautions

  • Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you—especially if you are alone or it is dark.
  • Whenever possible, travel with a friend.
  • Stay in well-lighted areas as much as possible.
  • Walk close to the curb. Avoid doorways, bushes and alleys where someone could hide.
  • Walk confidently at a steady pace.
  • Make eye contact with people when walking.
  • Do not respond to conversations from strangers on the street—continue walking.
  • If you carry a purse, carry it securely between your arm and your body. Although a purse-snatcher's intent is to steal the purse, your personal safety may depend on not clinging to it.
  • Do not use or wear anything that will impede your vision or hearing (i.e. iPods, hoods blocking your peripheral vision, etc.).

Car Safety

  • Take your keys with you when you exit the car. 
  • Always lock your car doors after entering or leaving your vehicle. Don't hop in the car and immediately get on your phone without locking the doors first. 
  • Completely close your windows when parking your car. 
  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • Have your car keys in your hand so you don't have to linger before entering your car.
  • Look under the car as you approach it to be sure no one is hiding under it.
  • Check the interior of your vehicle for intruders before entering your car.
  • If you think you are being followed, drive to a public place or a police or sheriff's station.
  • If your car breaks down, open the hood and attach a white cloth to the car antennae. If someone stops to help, stay in your locked car and ask them to call the police, sheriff or a tow truck service.
  • Don't stop to aid motorists by the side of the road. Make a phone call requesting help for them.
  • When dealing with children and car seats, it is better to put them in the seat, then get in yourself, lock the doors, and then finish buckling the kids up. This keeps you safer and allows you to give your full attention to handling the kids.
  • Lock personal property in the trunk of the car if you cannot take it with you. Do not leave such items as your purse, electronics, laptops or cell phones in view or on seats.

Internet Crime Prevention Tips

  • Do not give sensitive or personal information to anyone unless you are sure they are who they claim to be.
  • Do not download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you do not know.
  • Update your virus protection software regularly.
  • Be cautious of the information you share on social media.
  • Do not allow others access to your email account.
  • Change your password at least annually.
  • Never give your password to anyone. 

Office Security

  • Never leave your purse or wallet in plain view or in commonly accessible areas.
  • Don't leave cash or valuables at the office.
  • If you work alone or after business hours, keep the office door locked.
  • If you work late, try to find another worker or a security guard to walk out with you.
  • In an elevator, be mindful that there is a distress alarm on the control panel.
  • Be alert for pickpocketers on crowded elevators.
  • Report all suspicious persons and activities to the proper authorities (office manager, building security, law enforcement).
  • Be aware of escape routes for emergencies and post the police and fire department numbers near telephones.

Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Fraud

  • Shred anything with your card number on it.
  • Shred old credit cards when they expire or are replaced.
  • Avoid giving out your card information.
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
  • Check gas stations and ATMs for credit card skimmers.
  • Do not give out your credit card number online unless you are sure the site is secure and reputable.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies outside the United States.
  • Keep a list of all your credit card accounts and information in a secured location.
  • Check your credit card statements carefully for illegal charges and or identity theft.

Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer’s contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s), contact the card issuer immediately to avoid illegal charges and/or identity theft.

While Waiting for a Bus

  • Try to avoid isolated bus stops.
  • Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Try to avoid isolated bus stops.
  • Don't open your purse or wallet while boarding the bus—have your pass or money already in your hand.
  • Keep jewelry out of sight; don't flash jewelry; turn rings around so the stones don't show.

On-Board Buses

  • During off-hours, ride as near to the bus operator as possible
  • If someone bothers you or makes you feel uncomfortable, change seats. Inform the driver of the situation.
  • Carry your wallet inside your coat, or in a front pocket.
  • Keep your belongings in front of you and hold them close to your body with both hands.
  • Be alert to pickpocketers on crowded buses; check your purse or wallet if someone is jostling, crowding or pushing you.

Finally, if a crime does occur...REPORT IT! Everyone should consider it his or her responsibility to report crime. Many criminals develop favorite areas for committing crime, as well as predictable methods of operation. When you report all the facts about a crime, it helps the police assign officers in the places where crimes are occurring or where they are most likely to occur, and your report may help prevent a crime from reoccurring.

At least half of the crimes in the United States go unreported, either because people don't think the police can do anything about it, or because people don't want to get involved. If you don't report a crime, this allows the criminal to continue to operate without interference.

In many cases, it is the information provided by victims and witnesses that leads to the arrest of a criminal. So tell the police as much as you can; no fact is too trivial. The police need the eyes and ears of all citizens.