I witnessed a crime recently. Granted, it was a petty theft, but it was still an eye-opening experience. In the very Starbucks where I’m sitting now, two teenagers walked in, swiped a woman’s iPhone and ran like the wind. A bystander tried to grab one of the thieves, but he still managed to get away.
The following week, another crime occurred just a block away from a friend’s home when an intruder broke into a house in the middle of the night. When confronted by the homeowners, the intruder commenced to fire seven or eight gunshots before escaping through a back door and fleeing through a nearby dark golf course. Two occupants were wounded, but, thankfully, not seriously.
Just this past weekend, I also met someone at a women’s health event who began to share with me the importance of personal security items. I politely listened to this woman extol the virtues of carrying pepper spray, but I admit that I had no intention of making a purchase (I already have my own and highly recommend the Fury OC Pink Heart Lipstick Pepper Spray). The tears in her eyes, however, caused me to ask about her motivations in sharing this info. It was at this time that she shared how her daughter had recently been kidnapped, raped and beaten just five minutes from her home in Beverly Hills, California.
Two things that each of these crimes have in common is that they all happened in upscale neighborhoods and at times where each person was the least suspicious of people or their surroundings. Despite the fact that I so often blog on personal and home security topics, I admit to understanding how easy it is to ignore gut feelings or to become so distracted in a “safe setting” that we forget to exercise common sense security rules and advice.
The following are a few of the lessons these recent crimes and their victims have taught me:
Trust Your Gut
As soon as the iPhone thieves walked in, I knew something wasn’t right. They didn’t purchase anything, but briskly followed each other into the restroom. I glanced at them and made note of them bypassing the counter, but I immediately began to justify the scene by telling myself that perhaps they’d order before exiting or that they’d been seated on the patio all along and I just hadn’t noticed them.
My point here is that my gut told me something was wrong and I argued with it. This time it was just an iPhone, but the scene could have been far worse. What could I have done differently? In hindsight, quite a bit– like getting a better description of the guys, bringing the oddity to other people’s attention (a few people also noticed, but ignored their instincts, too) or even walked out of the store. The latter may sound extreme, but imagine if they’d been up to something more sinister? When it comes to personal security, we shouldn’t hesitate to overreact.
Practice Cell Phone Safety
As the heartbroken mom shared news of her daughter’s unfortunate attack, she advised me to not let my smartphone become a distraction in public. In particular, she warned against looking at phones as we exit and walk away from our cars. With heads down texting or reading, we are vulnerable to attackers lurking in the shadows while waiting for such a distracted victim. She also warned me to immediately start my car and lock my doors upon entering my car instead of fidgeting with a phone, connecting it to a charger or situating my purse and other items. The advice sounded good at the time, but didn’t really hit me until I got in my car later that afternoon and caught myself texting my husband before starting my car and locking my doors. I have no idea how many times I’d done that in the past, but I do know that, thanks to her advice, I’ll never do it again.
Never Rely On Others to Keep You Safe
I know this, but it was reinforced with a home-invasion happening so close to a friend’s home. See, he lives in a development where surveillance cameras are positioned at all entrances, as well as throughout the community itself. Their homeowner’s association also features 24/7 security that patrols the neighborhood, as well as a Sheriff’s substation located at the security’s main office. The home where the invasion occurred, however, was located almost directly across the street from this security station! Despite all of the extra security in an otherwise very safe neighborhood, a family was still victimized by an intruder.
Instead, these homeowners should have had an alarm system, their own surveillance cameras and motion-detected security lighting. According to my friend, no one knows why this particular home was selected but, at the very least, these security devices may have deterred the prowler. As it is, the intruder managed to not only enter the home without immediately sounding an alarm, but he was also able to escape under a cover of darkness.
What Have You Learned?
It’s unfortunate that any of these crimes occurred, but we can all learn from them in hindsight. Have you ever witnessed a crime or been a victim of one? What did you learn from these experiences? Please share your lessons in the comments section below.