by Steven Wright,
M.A. in Criminology
The season of joy, forgiveness, thankfulness and hope is upon us. In a perfect world, we should celebrate the birth of our Lord every day, be ever mindful of his sacrifice and be generous with our giving.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and very often we find ourselves in situations that cause just the opposite to happen. Sometimes no matter what we try to do things just do not go how we hope.
When I was growing up, I was always taught it was better to give then to receive. When I was very young, I wasn’t sure how anything could be better than getting a new bike for Christmas. One year, I was probably around five yrs old, I did get a mighty fine bike for Christmas. I got to ride it for one day before it was stolen. Someone else must have needed it more than me. I have remembered that over the years and have learned there are a few types of people in this world. In the scheme of things, without making any judgments of course, there are givers and there are receivers. In these two types of people, the act is almost always voluntary and done from the heart. Of course, for every giver there is a receiver and vise versa.
The third type of individual is the “TAKER”. There are those out there who see this time of year as a feeding ground to feed their selfish nature. This person will take every opportunity to take the things the rest of us work hard for. Most of us think the best of each other and not the worst so we do not always make the best personal security choices. It seems contrary to conventional wisdom that during a time where we are celebrating our Lord and sharing the joy of the season, we should worry about being horribly victimized by an element that seems to have no conscience about the impact of their acts on others.
As much as we don’t want to think any of us will become victims, it is still important to begin to think with a simple sense of personal security in mind. If we just take a few minutes and understand a few simple rules, we can save ourselves possibly years of frustration and pain. If you have ever been a victim of Identity Theft, you already know what I mean.
This time of year we seem to be more susceptible to being victimized and there are more opportunists out there ready to take advantage. We travel more frequently, shop late, visit friends and family, attend events, functions and parties and possibly carry gifts and cash that we might not at other times of the year.
Personal Security Mindset
1. Do not travel alone
2. Do not shop alone
3. Do not park in a dark location far away from entrances or exits
4. Look for well lighted areas or areas where security cameras are
5. Do not leave your car unlocked or windows rolled down
6. Do not leave anything visible inside your car – thieves will take anything
7. Do not put large amounts of merchandise even in your trunk and then walk away from your car. It is better to move your car to another parking location.
8. Do not carry large amounts of cash
9. Do not carry important papers with you, carry only necessary items like ID and credit or debit card. No social security card, birth certificates, .etc. You would be surprised how many people carry these in their cars and on their person.
10. Always prepare for the weather, rain, cold, wind etc.
11. Try not to stay at store or shopping until store closing
12. If you sense something wrong or see someone suspicious do not get out of your car
13. When leaving a store, if you sense something wrong, someone suspicious, or someone following you, do not walk to your car. Walk in a direction of people or back into store (why you should not stay late or until closing)
14. Do not approach or give money to panhandlers
15. Do not carry large open bags or purses (susceptible to pick pocketing)
16. Keep purse closed, open only when necessary
17. Do not flash cash (if you choose to carry)
18. Try to stay away from crowded areas where people are real close together (pick pocketing risk)
19. Only carry personal defensive devices if you are prepared to use them (Pepper Spray, etc) Otherwise, they can be taken away from you and used against you.
Remember Home security also
1. Do not leave doors or windows open or unlocked
2. Do not leave curtains or window coverings open so thieves can see inside
3. Do not leave gifts in open view of windows for longer than necessary
4. Try not to unload car in open view, pull into garage if possible
There is no real method to guarantee 100% you will not become a victim. In some instances, those “TAKERS” will take from us no matter what we do. We can minimize the risk and reduce the chances by being proactive. It is important that we all be aware of our surroundings, not just during this time of the year, but always. Take the opportunities away from the opportunists who would victimize us and make it more and more difficult for those individuals to take from us.
Remember though, many of the things I am referring to are material possessions. Material goods can be replaced. Our lives cannot, so do not put your personal safety at risk to protect material possessions. This is the time of the season to be thankful for the birth of our Lord, and no personal possession or material goods can compare to that.
Be safe this year, be healthy, be smart. Don’t drink and drive, stay alive.