Shopping this Holiday Season - Safety in Mind (Part 2 - Car and Driving)

by Celeste Piwinski - Date: 2006-12-28 - Word Count: 742 Share This!

Yep, this is another reminder that with the joyous season of giving comes the increase vulnerability to those that would do taking. In English: the holiday has increased crime rates, especially theft. Keep in mind that crimes occur when a would-be criminal finds a "weak, accessible target". The distraction of holiday shopping, planning, traveling, visiting, etcetera is a perfect back drop for criminal activity. Not that that's going to prevent or change any of our plans. Right?

Let's hope not. All the while, let's add a few items to our planning list. They don't involve time or money, just safety-minded eyes and ears.

Are you aware of "the Criminal Triangle"? It indicates that a crime happens when Desire, Opportunity, and a Victim meet. Well, that makes things simple, as long as we don't allow an Opportunity, we won't become a Victim. Um… What qualifies as an Opportunity to someone with extreme Desire? Not sure, but I am sure that implementing these tips will help reduce the opportunity of you becoming a victim.

Keep in mind these Holiday Shopping Tips when Driving :

Shop with the sun, friends and family. Repeat! Try not to shop after dark or shop alone. Never park your car in an unlit area, no matter how convenient it is. Look for street lights even if the sun is up (just in case your shopping trip is delayed and it becomes stormy and/or dark outside).

Be prepared. Look around… Remember where you park... Have keys in hand before you leave the virtual safety of home, office, or store. Walk with your house key or your car key and a safety device ready, such as your key fob with the 'panic' or 'horn' button, a whistle or other audible device. Whatever your choice, be ready to react if you are approached and feel threatened.

Don't attract attention. Drive on well traveled streets and keep your car locked and in gear, even when stopped. Allow at least one car length space between your car and the car in front of you so you can escape if need be. (By the way: Beware of fender-benders! You may be bumped intentionally. If you suspect this, lock your doors and do not get out of the vehicle. Speak through your slightly open window, and contact the proper authorities.)

Be cautious, not tempting. Before getting in your vehicle, check inside, under and around it to make sure no one is hiding. Look for shadows! If you are uncomfortable - go with your instinct! Go back to the store or office and have someone walk you to your car. If at any time you suspect you are in danger or are being followed, go to a store employee or security guard, if you're in your car, drive to the nearest well-lit public area, call the authorities and/or drive to the nearest police station.

Don't display your private information. Do not leave mail or packages in your car. Anyone could look inside your vehicle and use the address to break into your house while you shop. On that note, always shut and lock your windows and doors, even if you only plan to "run in and out". It only takes a moment of vulnerability for you to become a victim. Keep valuables out of sight, preferably locked in the trunk.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Your best defense may be as simple as being aware. Be aware of your surroundings, your belongings and bystanders in the vicinity. The above tips may reduce your chances of being victimized, but will not eliminate the possibility entirely.

Identify areas of vulnerability and take action to remain safe.!

Just in case you do find yourself in an awkward situation, or (God forbid!) a victim, you'll want to report the incident. When this happens, be prepared to provide the following information:

• the race, sex, and approximate age, height and weight of the suspicious person(s)

• what the person(s) were doing

• what the person(s) were wearing and any unique characteristics (tattoos, scars, etc.)

• the location of the suspicious person(s)

• if the person(s) have left, how long ago, and in which direction did the person(s) go

• the make, model, and color of the vehicle(s) involved

FBI Crime Rate statistics indicate that 1 out of every 25 people were a victim of crime in 2004 and 1 out of 250 people were a victim of a violent crime.

Your best defense against becoming a Victim of any crime is knowing how to reduce or remove the Opportunity segment of the Crime Triangle.

Related Tags: car, auto, driving, security, shop, crime, safe, self defense, shopping safety, holiday safety

The author Celeste Piwinski is a free lance writer, designer and photographer. She is a wife to co-author Edward Piwinski, a mother of one, and a business partner of an on-line safety, self defense and security product store.
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