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How to Prevent Getting Robbed
You May Be Next
Every year thousands of unsuspecting people get robbed at their homes, driveways, and streets - and unsuspecting is the main cause of it, while they are in a habit of thinking how "it can only happen to someone else".
Well, living in a constant fear is not helping much, but there is something between these extremes of a chronic paranoia and total carelessness - a street-smartness, and what follows are some tips that you may find useful.
The general idea is to outsmart the criminals before they get that one critical minute of an advantage. Most of them are not hitting their victims at random, but picking those that appear the least protected and cautious. Just like we want to minimize the chances of our becoming victims, they also try to minimize their chances of getting caught, or even killed.
Watch That Old-Timer's Itchy Trigger Finger
Some of the robbers' favorite targets are seniors, for a few reasons. They are not likely to offer much resistance, they are easier to trick and intimidate, and they don't make very good witnesses.
Now, of course, it's not a guaranteed hit, as an eighty year old can just as easily pull a trigger as someone half their age when they feel threatened. Besides, they are also known to be light sleepers, more likely to get scared at every irregular night noise.
They are quite likely to call the cops even if they are not sure if it was only a bad dream or the neighbor's dog is going insomniac again, or someone is trying to pick their lock. However, statistics are telling all kinds of stories that are definitely not favorable for the old folks, so they should exercise some extra caution.
Drugs Are Creating Some Beasts
When it's about home invasions, it's always a smart thinking to put yourself in the shoes of those desperate druggies who are ready for just about any risk, only to get that money for their next fix. Addiction is a horrible motivator, and it will give a super-human courage to those who can't stand another minute without their dose of drug that will make them so-so human again.
I have heard of a teenager son of certain acquaintances who sold his parents' jewelry, even their TV while they were vacationing. He cried and begged for their forgiveness afterwards, but that need for a fix had been beyond his coherent reasoning.
So, just think of those as the most likely candidates to drop into your unprotected home, even if the whole family is around, and also in a broad daylight, while you kept your door unlocked and so inviting.
About Your Doors Security
By the way, door chains are not reliable one bit, they only give you a false sense of security. Just remember how tiny screws were used to affix it to the frame, so anybody throwing their body's weight on the door can break it off. And at the night time, if intruders succeeded unlocking your door, it's only a joke to use a chain-cutter tool. So, focus your security efforts on installing a good lock.
Still talking about your doors, buy one of those "No Solicitors" stickers and affix it there. Also, make sure any of your back doors is locked at all times. I know it may sound like too much, but lock the door behind you if you are planning to spend some time in your backyard with your back turned to the house, or sun-bathing.
Just think how easy it is to sneak into the house if you are not looking in that direction - of course, assuming that you don't have a dog. It's also a good idea not to trust a stranger at your door just because he may "look very presentable" , well dressed and groomed. Don't let his three-piece-suit fool you.
And even the appearance of "just a kid selling chocolates" may be deceiving, because your limited view through the peek-hole won't allow you to see who else may be standing on the side. Sometimes robbers will use a kid as a decoy to get you to open your door.
Are Neighbors Watching Your House - or the Robbers?
A "Neighborhood Watch" in your area and a dog - yours or the next neighbor's - can make a huge difference, because it's important to get alerted about any strange person coming to your property.
That's what the proverbial dislike between a mailman and a dog is all about. Other than those desperate druggies, most robbers will spend some time watching your house to see if their strategies of entering may work.
They like those working folks whose kids also go to school, leaving the house at their disposal to help themselves with anything sitting, or even hiding around. After monitoring the house for a while, they will know who lives there, if there are any dogs around, and even if the closest neighbors are a potential obstacle by staying at home.
Those Strange Visitors
If you are a retiree, it's a smart precaution to tell all your family living elsewhere, your friends, and even your closest neighbors - who may decide to "drop in" - to give you a call prior to their coming.
Never open the door "just because" someone is knocking. Peek-holes are good, but a view from a side window at your entrance is much better. You see, there is not much logic in reasoning that "since it hasn't happened hundred times so far - it will never happen".
If somebody knocking on the door identifies themselves as a policeman, take a look through the window to see if there is a police car parked around. If it's not, don't mind appearing paranoid - don't open the door, talk to them through the closed door, they don't have to see your face in order to get their information. Also, never open the door to those "plumbers", or "cable-men" whose services you didn't ask for.
Your Keys Are Important
Keep your entrance key at a secure place, possibly not visible to anyone visiting. It only takes a moment to take a plaster imprint of it while you are not watching. If you happen to lose your key, have your lock replaced immediately, not later on, not tomorrow.
It's also a bad practice to leave that spare key "hidden" at the porch. A trained eye can quickly assess the most likely place where you hid it. If you are leaving for a vacation and you want your friends or neighbors to look after your house and water your house plants, make sure there are no teenagers in that household - who just might use that key.
Of course, not that every teenager has a criminal mind, but kids may be tempted to organize a little party in your house, and you don't know who - with possibly sticky fingers may be attending the happy event.
Be Safe While You Drive
Carjacking, mugging, or even kidnapping on a driveway of their home is a frequent way that people get victimized. So, as you are approaching your home in your car, while even a few blocks away from your home - start watching in your rear view mirror if anybody is following you.
If you happen to drive at night in a poorly lit up area, don't get out of your car to use a public telephone or an ABM machine. Also, at places like that robbers may lightly hit you from behind, just to make you step out of your car to check about the damage.
From that point on anything can happen on a road without much traffic and no one walking around. In case you get carjacked, don't play a hero, hospitals and cemeteries are full of all sorts of those.
While you are driving, whether at day or night time, it's always a good practice to keep your car doors locked. It doesn't take much for someone waiting for an opportune moment to jump in your car while you are stopping at the red light.
Let's Be Street-Wise, Folks!
Many of the preceding tips and precautions may look like a "manual for a city paranoiac", however, they are merely some good practices which all of us can do without much effort or an excessive worry.
Just like no one could mock you for "being a chicken" because you are driving defensively and not trusting other drivers too much, so it's only a matter of being street-wise, knowing the possible perils of living in a city with so many possible desperados who will rob you for your watch or the change in your pocket.
On the TV show "First 48" you might have seen a young woman being shot and killed with only 50 dollars in her purse, who also happened to have lost her job earlier that day, with a couple of tiny kids at home. How unlucky can someone get!
As we are watching such programs deeply touched by all those tragedies - we may not really considering a possibility that we might be the next in those gloomy statistics. So, let's be street-wise, folks, it's really only a matter of acquiring certain smart habits.