Being taken by surprise is the one thing you don’t want to happen. If you are out anywhere, even at the shops or going for a walk in your quiet neighborhood streets, you need to keep your radar on and keep your mind free of all distractions. Awareness is your best self defence.
Distracted people are the specific targets of muggers and thieves. People who walk along with their head down, or who shuffle along, or who appear deep in thought are prime targets.
There are some common external distractions that also rob people of their awareness. They include listening to an Ipod, talking on a mobile phone, searching for a purse, searching for keys and attending to small children and babies.
As soon as your attention is distracted your awareness is reduced and you become a target for assault or robbery. Sometimes criminals work in pairs and one of them becomes the distraction that the other needs. They will distract you by engaging you in conversation, asking for directions, by bumping into you then apologising profusely or by spilling something on you.
Beware of anyone trying to coax you to go with them. They could well be trying to move you to a less public location. It is our trusting nature that gets us into trouble. So stay aware!
High risk locations include shopping centres, car parks, office car parks, public parking lots, deserted streets, stair wells and rest rooms. For young people it includes locations with large groups of people where there is access to alcohol and drugs.
There are many early warning signs that you should be able to recognise. These include:
- Unusual movement or noise
- Someone following you
- A person sitting alone in a car
- Large vehicle / van parked next to your car
- An approach by a stranger
- An appeal for assistance or an offer of help
- Someone staring at you or who suddenly avoids your gaze
- The noise stops and the room goes quiet
- A sense of the mood changing
- A sudden sense of impending danger
So next time you are out, walk with purpose and keep your head up and your hands free, so you can see what is going on around you. Rid yourself of all external distractions and be proactive about your personal safety.