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Personal Safety

Rape Awareness & Prevention  

Know the Facts
  • Two out of three sex crimes involve alcohol, and two out of three occur after dark.
  • Most offenders know their victims. A majority of offenses happen in the victim's home or in a friend’s home.
  • Victims are not responsible for the crimes, offenders are.
  • Offenders are motivated by anger, a sense of powerlessness, or control problems. They seek someone to dominate and punish. These are violent crimes, not expressions of sexuality.
  • Offenders seek out victims who are isolated, not paying attention, or otherwise vulnerable. They may try to bribe, trick, or lure victims into an unsafe situation, may encourage the target to use alcohol or other drugs to diminish their ability to think clearly, or may use threats or force.
Safety Precautions
  • Don't walk alone, especially after dark.
  • Identify safe havens near where you live, work or recreate.
  • Pay careful attention to your surroundings. If you are in a threatening or uncomfortable environment, leave.
  • Asset yourself - speak up if you are victimized. Offenders won't stop until you do.
  • Keep pepper-spray in your hand; it won't help you if it's in your purse.
  • Learn self-defense measures from local resources such as martial arts schools.
Survival/Escape Options
Running or keeping your distance is always best. Yelling no and yelling for help when there are others within hearing range can help, but it's best if you yell out exactly what is happening. There is not correct response for every situation. Surprising the offender may give you an opportunity to escape, while in other cases negotiation may convince him to yield some concessions.

Domestic Violence  

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women - surpassing rape, mugging, and auto accidents combined. Here are the statistics on domestic violence in America:
  • Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten in America.
  • Husbands or boyfriends assault at least two million women a year. 25-45% of these women are battered during pregnancy.
  • 3-4 million women will be physically battered at least once in their lifetimes.
  • 20% of emergency room visits by women are for injuries caused by battering.
  • 45-75% of men who batter women also batter children; spouse abuse is the single most identifiable risk factor for predicting child abuse.
  • Ten women are killed every day in domestic violence.
  • 3 out of 4 women murdered are killed by their husbands.
The Cycle of Abuse

Domestic violence predictably follows three phases:
  1. Phase One: the tension builds. The offender belittles and criticizes the victim until he or she is emotionally broken.
  2. Phase Two: the tension peaks and the offender attacks. This acute battering incident releases the tension, and leads into phase three.
  3. Phase Three: This phase is marked by kind, contrite, loving behavior. Commonly, the offender may promise that the assaults will never happen again. Without treatment, this is not true. It's only a matter of time before phase one kicks in all over again. If you are the victim of domestic violence, and your partner is not following through with treatment, y our safety can best be guaranteed if you escape from the situation.
Escape Plan
  1. Avoid arguments in spaces hard to escape from.
  2. Leave money, car keys, clothing and copies of documents with someone you trust.
  3. Keep change with you at all times.
  4. Rehearse an escape plan with your children, including a meeting place.
  5. Teach children to call 9-1-1.
  6. If you have a restraining order, keep copies at multiple locations. Always keep a copy with you; keep a copy in the car; give your children copies. Give copies to teachers and police, with a photo of the offender.
  7. Memorize the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE and/or know how to reach local resources.

Senior Safety  

As people grow older, their chance of being victims of crime decreases dramatically. But a lifetime of experience coupled with the physical problems associated with aging often makes older Americans fearful. Though they're on the lookout constantly for physical attack and burglary, they are not as alert to frauds and con games - in reality the greatest crime threat to seniors' well-being and trust.

Trust your good judgment. Common sense is the best defense.

On the Telephone

  • Don't give personal or financial information over the phone.
  • Hang up on nuisance callers and report them.
  • Don't fall for anything that sounds too good to be true - a free vacation, sweepstakes prizes, cures for cancer and arthritis, a low-risk, high-yield investment scheme.
  • Beware of individuals claiming to represent companies, consumer organizations, or government agencies that offer to recover lost money from fraudulent telemarketers for a fee.
Protect Your Valuables
  • Have your social security or pension check deposited directly into your account.
  • Keep money and securities in a bank.
  • Mark all valuables with an ID number.
Organize a Buddy System
  • Have neighbors watch each other’s homes and form security patrols.
  • Do laundry, shopping or errands in groups.
Be Alert When Out and About
  • When crossing the streets, even in a crosswalk never assume the driver will see you or be able to stop in time.
  • Don't carry credit cards you don't need or large amounts of cash.
  • Whether you're a passenger or driver, keep car doors locked. Be particularly alert in parking lots and garages. Park near an entrance.
  • If someone or something makes you uneasy, trust your instincts and leave.
When You Return Home
  • Have your key out and ready.
  • Have the driver watch until you are inside.
  • Don't enter an elevator alone with a stranger.
  • Install and use a peephole. Never open your door to strangers.
  • Keep doors and windows locked.
Get Involved in the Community
  • Report any crime or suspicious activities to the police.
  • Form a neighborhood watch to look out for each other and help the police.
  • Work to change conditions that hurt your neighborhood. Volunteer as a citizen patroller, tutor for children, mentor for teens, escort for individuals with disabilities

Physical Disabilities Crime Prevention  

A physical disability - impaired vision, hearing or mobility - doesn't prevent you from being a victim of crimes. Commonsense action can reduce your risk.

Look Out For Yourself
  • Stay alert and tuned into your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving or waiting for a bus.
  • Send the message that you're calm, confident and know where you are going.
  • Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk.
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants, or stores that are open and accessible.
At Home
  • Put good locks on all your doors. Police recommend double-cylinder, dead bolt locks, but make sure you can easily use the locks you install.
  • Install peepholes on front and back doors at your eye level. This is especially important if you use a wheelchair.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Watchful neighbors who look out for you as well as themselves are a front line defense against crime.
  • If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend record a message (giving your name, address, and type of disability) to use in emergencies. Keep the tape in a recorder next to your phone.
  • Ask the Police Department to conduct a free home security survey and to help identify your individual needs.
Before You Go On Vacation
  • Plan ahead. If you are traveling by car, get maps and plan your route. Have the car checked before you leave.
  • Leave copies of the number of your passport, driver's license, credit cards, and traveler's checks.
  • Put lights and radio on timers to create the illusion that someone is at home while you are away. Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. Stop mail and deliveries or ask a neighbor to take them in.
Out and About
  • If possible, go with a friend.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through vacant lots, wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an outside coat or front pants pocket. If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked snugly between you and the inside of the chair.
  • If you use a knapsack, make sure it is securely shut.
  • Always carry your medical information in case of an emergency.
  • Consider installing a cellular phone or CB radio in your vehicle.
On Public Transportation
  • Use well-lighted, busy stops. Stay near other passengers.
  • Stay alert. Don't dose or daydream!
  • If someone harasses you, make a loud noise or say, "Leave me alone!" If that doesn't work, hit the emergency signal on the bus or train.
Don't Let A Con Artist Tip You Off
  • Many con artists prey on people's desires to find miracle cures for chronic conditions and fatal diseases. To outsmart these con artists, remember these tips:
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don't let greed or desperation over-come common sense.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Be wary of high-pressure tactics, requests for quick decisions, demands for cash only, or high yield low-risk investments.
Take A Stand
  • Join, or help organize a Neighborhood Watch group. Make sure their meetings are accessible to people with disabilities. For example, do they need a sign language interpreter? Can individuals who use walkers, crutches, or wheelchairs enter the meeting place?
  • Work with local law enforcement to improve responses to all victims or witnesses of crime. Role-play how people with disabilities can handle threatening situations.
  • Work with a rehabilitation center of advocacy groups to offer a presentation to schools and other community organizations on the needs and concerns of individuals with disabilities.

Scams and Frauds  

The clever con artist is a good actor who disarms his victims with an agreeable "nice guy" approach. But behind the friendly exterior is a shrewd psychologist who can isolate potential victims and break down their resistance to his proposals. Each conquest is part of a game in which he must "best" his fellow man.

The typical con artist has no morals, but will act as having a friendly and sociable disposition. He is mobile, with an excellent sense of timing. He sincerely believes his victims deserve their fate. And, if caught, he will probably strike again later. Con artists are seldom rehabilitated.
The Victim
Anyone can be a victim - even a person who considers himself too intelligent or sophisticated to be "conned". Many victims share certain characteristics. Often, but not always, they are:
  • Older, female, and live alone;
  • Trusting of others - even strangers, and
  • May need or desire supplemental income.
Loneliness, willingness to help, and a sense of charity are characteristics a con artist will exploit to gain a victim's cooperation.

The con artist ultimately will exploit his victim's assets - including life insurance benefits, pensions or annuities, "nest eggs", home equity, or other tangible property. And he will usually obtain the willing cooperation of his victim to complete his scheme.
At Home
  • "Salting the Gold Mine" - The most successful con games are old schemes updated for today's circumstances. The old "Salting the gold mine" scheme is still being practiced, for example, but today's "salting" occurs in living rooms, not abandoned mines. In the old ruse, you may remember, dishonest mine owners would place a few gold nuggets in exhausted mines so they could sell them for inflated profits. In one recent scheme, a con artist bought six color television sets at the regular price from a retail store, and then sold them, still in their cartons, to six prominent local persons for one-fifth of their original price. Later, he hired several high school students as telephone solicitors to sell "carloads" of TV sets purchased new from a bankrupt retail chain. When potential customers balked, the con artist used, as references, the original six customers, who had been "salted". Before police were alerted, he collected almost $60,000.

  • "Bank Examiner" - This scheme is still around and working well, particularly among older widows. The con artist, posing as a bank examiner, asks the victim to help him test the honesty of bank employees by with drawing substantial funds. When the funds are handed over to the con artist for "examination", he issues the victim an official-looking but worthless "receipt" and disappears.

  • Mail-Order Swindles - Postal authorities warn citizens to be alert for mail-order swindles such as phony work-at-home schemes that require cash deposits or payments. Among all arenas for swindle activity, these are probably the most active and productive for the con artist.

  • Tele-Marketing - Never buy anything over the phone when a salesperson calls! If you are interested, have them send you something in writing. A good rule to go by, but be careful - a recent popular con involves sending an "information packet" for which the recipient pays C.O.D. charges when it arrives by common carrier. Also, if you do plan to order by phone (from a reputable company) using a credit card, do not use a cordless phone when you place the call. Your conversation - and your credit card number - could be overheard.
Common Scams That Con Artists Use
  • Lottery - Person offers to sell you winning lottery tickets he cannot cash because "I'm an illegal immigrant", or similar excuse. Crime: Lottery ticket is counterfeit. (Be suspicious of any stranger offering to share money with you.)
  • Magazine Subscription - Young person is selling "subscriptions" to earn money for school/team/camp. Crime: Young person pockets the money. (Buy only from magazine or people/groups you know.)
  • Medical Products - You buy health, beauty-care or "cure" products by mail. Crime: Product is not sent, overpriced or harmful. (Ask your doctor before buying.)
  • Need Help - Man says his wife is sick, he has run out of gas or other emergency and needs $10 to $20; says he will pay it back and shows I.D. Crime: There is no emergency, his I.D. is a fake. (Do not loan money to strangers.)
  • 900 Numbers - Products are offered via 900 numbers. Crime: Call costs more than advertised or product is worthless. (Know cost before calling. Avoid credit card or contest-confirmation calls.)
  • Obituary - You are recently widowed: C.O.D. box arrives for product "your spouse ordered". Crime: Box contains cheap item at substantial price that was never ordered. (Tell person your spouse is deceased and you cannot accept the product.)
  • Pigeon Drop - Person offers to share "found" money with you if you will put up some of your own money "to show good faith." Crime: Your envelope of money is switched with one holding paper while you are distracted. (Again, do not withdraw money for anyone, and doubt all offers to "share" money.)
  • Travel Club - Firm offers bargain airfare/hotel packages in glamorous locale. Crime: Hidden fees and conditions, sky-high rates for additional person, the place is a dump. (Ask travel agent's advice, read all paperwork.)
  • Unknown Callers - Woman with child knocks on your door and asks for a favor requiring entrance. Crime: You are distracted by one while the other steals cash or jewelry. (Give location of public restroom, phone or whatever they need - but don not let them in.)
  • Carpet Cleaner - Ad offers very low price to clean carpeting in your home. Crime: Cleaner says carpet is too worn or soiled for offer and charges more. (Report to Better Business Bureau or District Attorney's Consumer Fraud Unit.)
  • Charity/Religious Group - You are solicited by an organization you know nothing about. Crime: Group does not exist, or only a fraction of money is given to charity. (Contribute only to legitimate representative of known groups.)
  • City Inspector - "Inspector" says he needs to check plumbing/wiring/furnace. Crime: Person finds "serious" defect and must disconnect a critical service, but offers to call a friend to fix it cheap. Work is unnecessary and expensive. (Call City Department "inspector" claims to represent and verify before okaying job. Get number from phone book, not his card.)
  • Contest Winner - You are told you have won a prize but must send money for postage/registration, or call 800 numbers for details. Crime: You get nothing, or something is worthless. (Steer clear of these "deals".)
  • Credit/Phone Card - Person asks for your credit/phone card number to send you a product, verify insurance, etc. Crime: Unauthorized purchases or calls are made to your number. (Never give credit/ phone card numbers to anyone who contacts you requesting that information.)
  • Government Service - Official-sounding firm offers Social Security service that is "required" or useful. Crime: Service's are not from government, are not required, or can be obtained free from government. (Ask government agency about any such organization.)
  • Home Repair/Inspection - "Contractor" offers to repair, remodel, or offers work with leftover materials for cheap. Crime: Person does nothing or does it poorly. (Check with Consumer Fraud Unit of the District Attorney's Office.)
  • Land Sale - Promised cheap land or retirement facility in gorgeous area. Crime: Site is poor, or promise is not fulfilled. (Visit site, read paperwork thoroughly; deal only with reputable firms.)
Key Words Used By a Con Artist
  • Cash only
  • Secret plans
  • Get rich quick
  • Something for nothing
  • Contests
  • Haste
  • Today only
  • Too good to be true
  • Last chance
  • Left-over material