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Theresa L.

DeWitt Training & Development Professor Walker August 28, 2008

Personal Safety Training A friend of mine remembers her first few days in Austin, Texas. Her family had moved from Wisconsin state and she was very sad about the move. Karen had moped around for a few days and decided instead of sitting around being sad another day, she and her four year-old would go to the Northcross Mall. This was right after the girls had been killed in the ice-cream parlor. The parking lot was full and she parked between Oshmans and Hooters. It was very hot that day and she was dressed in layered spaghetti string tank tops and a skirt. While walking through the mall she noticed a guy, young, blonde, white male that seemed to be everywhere she was. Karen thought she was being paranoid and went into a Hallmark shop to look at cards. While reading a card, she felt something touch her leg; it was the same guy pretending to reach a card below her! She quickly left the card shop with her son in tow and went in another shop and felt she had lost him. After a few minutes, Karen checked her watch and realized it was time to pick her other son up from school so she surveyed the area and quickly exited the mall. Her car was a good way from the exit so they hurried. While just a few feet from her car; she heard maam, do you have the time? She looked around and to her fright; it was the same guy! She grabbed her son, ran and finally found someone that had a cell phone to call 911. The police instructed her to find security at the mall. After finding the security desk, one of the personnel walked her safely to her car.


Approximately five years later, she opened the Austin American Statesman and this creeps picture was plastered all over the front page. Karen couldnt believe it. They had finally captured the Mopac Rapist, Christopher Ted Dye; she was horrified to realize it was the same guy that followed her in the mall! Dye committed his first rape approximately two weeks after the incident at the mall. We have all been there. In a dark parking lot or in an isolated place and realize someone is following or approaching. The thought may cross our minds, where is my pepper spray? Or why didnt I ask someone to walk with me? Or am I being paranoid again? Studies have shown women have a tendency to not want to make a scene or bring attention to themselves, mainly for fear of not wanting to look silly or look like an idiot. So instead of following their instincts, a woman will try and handle the situation placing her in possibly tremendous danger. The sad reality is we live in an ever increasing violent society, especially for women. One out of three women can expect to be assaulted at one time or another in their lifetime. Carjacking is another situation where women especially need to be aware. Most women have the habit after entering their car to sit for a few minutes, make one or two phone calls or balance the checkbook before leaving or heading off on their next errand. This is a bad idea. If you think you are not at risk think again, criminals are smart. Most do not have a full time job to take up their time. They have a lot of time to sit and think. Here are two of the latest carjacking scams: A lady enters a convenience store after she makes her purchases, she quickly walks to her car gets in and locks the door. A man taps on her window, you dropped this, and its a five dollar bill. She doesnt remember having a five dollar bill but opens the door. This must be a nice guy, right? Now he has her or her vehicle or both. Second scenario, a woman gets in her car and looks in her rear view mirror to back up; however, someone has placed an advertisement in her

DeWitt back window. She opens the door and walks to the rear of the car to remove the paper. The carjackers come out of nowhere, jump in the car and will back over her if necessary. Now they

have her car, more than likely her purse with her home address and keys to her house. Everything has been compromised. A person, especially a woman should to be aware of her surroundings. Assailants watch their victims and are very good at picking those that are distracted or not paying attention. Never drive with unlocked doors. If you are stopped at a red light or stop sign, someone could just open your door, jump in and have control of you and your car. Be very wary of parking next to a large van or getting into your parked car if a van has parked next to you. It is very easy for attackers to pull women into a van while she is trying to get into her car. You can always get into your vehicle from the passenger side or walk back into the store or office and get someone to accompany you.

DeWitt It is much better to be a little paranoid then a lot dead.

If you are ever attacked or in a situation when you think you might be, do not be afraid to fight back. If attackers think a woman will put up some sort of a fight, they are less likely to attack her. So if someone is coming towards you and you feel uncomfortable, put your hands


out in front of you and yell Stop! or I have pepper spray! Always have your keys out and ready before you leave a building. Before you get into your car, take a quick look under and in your vehicle, particularly in the back seat and the passenger side floor. It only takes a minute and I know it sounds silly but as my grandmother saysbetter safe then sorry. Remember however, there is nothing in your purse that cannot be replaced. Nothing is more valuable then your life, so if a robber demands your purse do not even think about refusing him or her! However, do not just give them the purse or wallet. Throw it away from you and run like hell. Most robbers are more interested in your money so they will go for the purse and not you. Be pro-active and prepared at home, in the car, at work, everywhere you go. Personal Safety tips and others from Orange County Police Department: Personal Safety Stay Alert and stay aware of your surroundings Stand tall and walk with confidence. Dont show fear. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable, leave the area right away. Dont let Alcohol or drugs cloud your judgment.

DeWitt ON FOOT Choose busy streets to walk and avoid going through vacant lots. Try not to walk alone. Get to know your environment or neighborhood and the neighbors where you live. Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on your property. Report inoperable lights or signs to the appropriate agency or business. Walk at a steady pace on the side of the roadway facing traffic if there is no sidewalk available. Avoid doorways, high bushes, and alleys. Wear clothes and shoes that give you freedom to move. Be extremely careful when people try to stop you for directions. Always reply from a distance, and never get close to a car to give directions.

If you are in trouble, attract attention immediately by screaming for help or yelling FIRE If you feel that you are being followed, walk to a well lighted and IN A VEHICLE Always lock your vehicle and take the key, even if you are going to be gone only a short time. Keep your vehicle in good working order and keep the gas tank at least on a quarter of a tank. Lock all vehicle doors while driving. populated area.

DeWitt If your vehicle breaks down, raise the hood, and keep the emergency flashers going. When someone stops to assist, dont get out. Open your vehicle window slightly and ask him/her to contact the police. If you are coming or going after dark, park in a well illuminated area.

When in a parking garage, valet service, or having your vehicle serviced, leave only the ignition key with the attendant. NEVER pick up a hitchhiker. If possible, have a cellular phone and use it. USING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION Always have your fare out and ready when leaving home or work. Plan your route by using the busiest and best illuminated stops. Sit near the driver or operator but not right next to the entrance door. Keep your purse, packages, shopping bags, etc. on your arm or between your feet when sitting. Never let yourself doze while traveling or at a transportation stop. SECURITY AT HOME Property crime is the most frequent type of crime. This includes vandalism, theft, and burglary. Most burglars will spend less than 60 seconds attempting to gain entry into a residence. Make sure that all windows and doors are locked securely, particularly the sliding glass door.

DeWitt Make sure that all outside access doors have a good sturdy dead-bolt lock with a minimum 1 inch bolt. Always lock your residence when you go out. Make sure that all porches and other entrances are well illuminated. Make sure that all outside doors are metal or solid. Do not hide a house key under the doormat or near-by flower pot. It is much wiser to give a house key to a trusted friend or neighbor. Install a peephole on outside doors at the proper level and use it. Check the identification of any sales or service personnel that may enter your residence. No matter what the reason, dont let strangers in your residence when you are alone. Offer to make an emergency telephone call for them or call the police. Never give the impression that you are home alone. If you come home and find a window or door open or forced entry has been made into your residence, DO NOT go inside. Go to the nearest telephone and call the police. Dont leave your garage door open for extended periods of time. If doors do not fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them. When moving into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks immediately. Clearly display your house number on the residence so police and emergency vehicles can respond quickly. If traveling or away from home, use timers in different areas of the residence. Make a list of valuables---VCR, stereo, computer, jewelry and take photos of these items listing the serial numbers and description.

DeWitt Keep your yard clean of brush and cut back limbs or shrubbery so it doesnt hide windows and doors. Consider an alarm system, or motion detectors around the exterior of the residence. Robberies are a problem at ATM machines. Here are some safety tips which may make using the ATM safer: If you drive to the ATM, it is best to lock your car when using the ATM. Keep your keys handy so you can enter your vehicle quickly after completing the transaction. Be alert for anything suspicious, especially two or more people in a nearby vehicle, particularly if no one else is at the ATM or someone who just appears to be hanging around the area. If you sense something wrong, leave the area immediately and use another ATM. When waiting in line wait well behind the person or persons using the ATM. When you are using the ATM and someone is closer than you would like, ask them to

step back a few steps. If they do not step back it may be best to cancel your transaction and wait in your locked vehicle until that person leaves or you could go to another ATM. Have everything ready before you approach the ATM. Have your card ready, know your code, and fill out the deposit envelope before approaching the ATM. Do NOT write your code on your ATM card. Keep your code secret. If needed, check the code before approaching the ATM.



Stand directly in front of the ATM, blocking the view of others. You dont want others to see your code or to see what type of transaction you made, or how much money you withdrew. If you must use an ATM after dark, have a friend go with you if possible. Many ATM robberies occur between midnight and 6 a.m. At a drive-up ATM, keep all windows closed, except the one you are using, and all doors locked. Keep the car running, and keep your eyes moving, watching the front, sides, and rear area. If someone approaches your vehicle on foot, cancel the transaction and leave. When your transaction is completed, immediately take your property-(card-receiptmoney, etc.) and put them in your pocket or purse and leave immediately. You can count your money later. When you leave the ATM and you feel someone is following you, walk or drive into the closest open business or call the police. Report all ATM crimes to the local police and the financial institution. CARJACKING FACTS Carjacking takes place very quickly. Most take only 15 to 20 seconds to complete. Carjacking can be violent. Drivers have been beaten and even murdered while being pulled out of their car. Carjackers are usually armed either with a gun or knife.



Carjacking may first involve a minor traffic accident. The victims car is bumped at a stop sign, red light, or freeway off ramp. When the victim gets out of the car to check the damage, the suspect pulls a weapon and takes the car. Other carjackings occur at stop signs or lights. The suspect may approach you and pull a weapon on you ordering you out of the car; or as you are pulling into or out of a parking space, a second vehicle may block your path with a passenger from the suspects vehicle getting out and pulling you out of your car. As you are entering or exiting your car, the suspect may be standing close by, in a parked car, or hiding by other parked cars, buildings, etc. SAFETY TIPS BE AWARE. This is very important. Giving the appearance of not paying attention and not being alert is what suspects look for in a victim. Look around and get the BIG PICTURE of your surroundings. At Times, you may want to be a little suspicious of a person or persons. Ask yourself why is this person where they are? Some victims have seen the suspect but the victim thought the person looked Innocent and he was just standing around. Keep your house keys and the car keys on separate chains. When going to your car have your keys out and ready. Look around for anyone hanging around your car or your path to your car. Dont hesitate to run back to where you came from to silicate help.

DeWitt LOOK AROUND one last time just before exiting the vehicle. When you pull into a


parking area, look around for anyone hanging around or someone who seems out of place or someone who seems to pace their walk to arrive at your parking place as you exit your vehicle. If you see someone like this, move to another parking area or leave the area. By keeping your keys in your hand, you can quickly get back into your car if someone suddenly appears and approaches you. GET BACK IN THE CARHONK THE HORN-START THE CAR-AND START THE CAR MOVING OUT OF THAT LOCATION! In a minor fender bender type accident, if the location is secluded, instead of getting out immediately, you may want to drive to an open business, police station, fire station, etc for your safety. Motion the other driver to follow you. You do not want to give the other driver the idea that you are running away from an accident, even though the other driver caused the accident. Keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up. Keep packages, purse, etc. on the floor rather than on the seat where they are easier to see. Keep your car in good working order with plenty of gas. If you have car trouble, keep your doors locked and windows up. If someone stops to help, stay in the car and ask them to call the police and/or a service station. Your vehicle can be one of the most difficult jobs in your effort to protect your personal belongings. Theft of stereos and other valuables from cars is a prevalent crime during the late night hours when most are asleep.



My best advice is to always rely on your instincts. If you feel like something is a little off or not right, you are probably right. Get out of there! It is far better to overreact and look like an idiot then to just squash those mental alarm bells and become a statistic. Your personal safety is your responsibility; those intuitions are there for a reason.