As the end of the year approaches many people will make resolutions for the New Year. These commonly include healthy lifestyle changes like eating right, getting more exercise or a promise to stop smoking. I think we can all agree that anything we can do to improve our health is a good idea, but this year, why not make some resolutions to improve our personal safety.
The first step in decreasing the potential for becoming a crime victim is to educate yourself on some basic crime prevention techniques. The next step is to use those techniques while at home, when in you car, and while you are at work or school.
When you are at home, conduct a simple self test and look for ways that a criminal might enter or take your belongings. Is the garage door standing open? Are your doors and windows locked? As the weather gets cooler, an open window or door is an invitation to a criminal. Remember, just because you are at home does not mean a potential burglar or thief will not attempt to use stealth or deception to get inside. Train yourself to close and lock doors behind you when you arrive home. Close your garage door after parking to protect valuables like tools, bicycles, golf clubs or fishing equipment that are commonly found unsecured inside.
While at work remain alert for suspicious people who may be attempting to blend into the crowd in your office. Before allowing a stranger to move freely through your office, question their presence and verify that they are authorized to be there. Never leave a purse, wallet, brief case, or laptop computer unattended in your classroom or office. Instead, lock these items in your desk or in a locker if your employer provides one. If you work in any business that handles cash, think about how to react if a robbery were to occur. It is unwise to resist, instead focus on activating a silent alarm if one is available and you can do so safely. Be a good witness and write down a description of the suspect and remember what he or she might have touched while in the business. Latent finger prints and a good suspect description will significantly improve the chances of identifying the suspect later.
Lastly, remember that your car, truck, or boat is an extension of your home. Use the same safety precautions while traveling around town or across the country that you would use at home. Lock your doors, identify potential threats to your safety, and store personal property out of plain view.
By making a resolution to follow a few simple crime prevention techniques, you can truly have a safer new year. If you want to feel even better about your plan, share it with friends and relatives so they too will make the same resolution. By doing so you are also helping us in "Leading The Way For A Safer Pinellas."
If you would like other suggestions regarding personal safety or home security please contact the Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit at (727) 582-5611.