How to protect yourself from crime

  • “My friends usually walked me home after dark. But one evening I was so tired that I decided to call a taxi.

    “The driver didn’t take me home. Instead, he drove me to an abandoned field, where he tried to rape me. I screamed with all my might, and he backed off. When he came toward me again, I screamed and ran.

    “In the past I had often thought, ‘How can screaming help?’ But I’ve learned that it works!”—KARIN. *

    IN MANY lands, crime is an ever-present danger. For example, in one country a judge stated: “The sad reality is that it’s not if, but when, you will become a victim.” In other places, crime may be less common. Even so, it is unwise to become complacent, for complacency can lead to vulnerability.

    Whether you live in a high-crime or a low-crime area, how can you make life safer for you and your loved ones? One practical step you can take is to heed this principle found in the Bible: “The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble.” (Proverbs 22:3, New Century Version) Indeed, police authorities advocate the taking of preventive measures—avoiding crime in the first place.

    Physical injury and material loss are not the only consequences of crime. Many victims also suffer lasting mental and emotional harm. How important, then, that we do what we reasonably can to increase our safety! With that goal in mind, consider how you can take steps to protect yourself from four kinds of crime—robbery, sexual assault, cyber-crime, and identity theft.

    ROBBERY

    What is it? Robbery is theft using force or threats of force.

    How does it affect people? After a string of armed robberies in Britain, a prosecutor observed that although the victims suffered no physical harm, all suffered mental anguish. “Several of them report ongoing anxiety and sleep difficulties,” she said, “and virtually all of them say that their daily working lives have been gravely affected by what they experienced.”

    What can you do?

  • Be aware. Thieves are opportunists. They like to prey on the unsuspecting. So watch the people who are watching you, be aware of your surroundings, and do not dull your senses or impair your judgment by overdrinking or misusing drugs. “When a person is drinking alcohol or using drugs,” it is harder for him “to think clearly and evaluate a potentially dangerous situation,” says a health encyclopedia.

  • Protect your property. Secure your vehicle and the doors and windows of your home. Never admit a stranger. Keep valuables out of sight; do not flaunt them. “Wisdom is with the modest ones,” says Proverbs 11:2. Thieves—including desperate children—often target people who parade expensive jewelry and electronics.

  • Seek advice. “The way of the foolish one is right in his own eyes, but the one listening to counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15) If you are traveling, heed the advice of informed locals, including the authorities. They can point out places to avoid and show you how to protect yourself and your belongings.

  • SEXUAL ASSAULT

    What is it? Sexual assault is not limited to rape but includes other forms of sexual contact involving threats, force, or intimidation.

    How does it affect people? “The saddest thing is [that] it doesn’t just affect you while you’re being abused,” explains a rape victim. “It stays with you and haunts you for a long time and changes your outlook on life. It also changes the lives of your loved ones.” Of course, the victim is not responsible for the sexual assault. The aggressor bears that responsibility.

    What can you do?

    • Do not ignore your feelings. “If a place or person makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy—leave,” advises a police department in North Carolina, U.S.A. “Don’t let anyone convince you to stay if your instincts are telling you otherwise.”

    • Act confidently; be focused. Sexual predators hunt for the unsuspecting and vulnerable. So walk confidently and stay alert.

    • React quickly. Scream. (Deuteronomy 22:25-27) Escape or fight back using the  element of surprise. And, if possible, run to a safe place and call the police. *

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