By Laurel Lockhart, Sanmiguelenses Unidos
Pay attention and acknowledge passersby. Make eye contact. Texting or talking on the phone diverts your attention, allowing purse snatchers and pickpockets easy access to your valuables.
Walk hugging the walls of buildings and keep handbags and wallets on the wall side. Cyclists, motorbikes and runners will be unable to grab your possessions.
Do not allow yourself to be “sandwiched.” If you are in a line or a crowded situation create space between yourself and others.
Carry minimum amounts of cash. Carry small bills and anything over 50 pesos should be concealed in a non-visible portion of a wallet or purse. Carry only copies of documentation and no debit or credit cards unless absolutely necessary.
Have exact fares for buses and taxies in hand before getting into the bus or cab.
Approaching sunrise or sunset, walk with deterrents in your hand. A bottle of spray perfume, keys with their points exposed, pepper spray, a personal alarm or stun gun, and so forth, will disable an attacker and give you the time to scream and flee the scene.
Walk in the street if possible. This will protect you from someone jumping out of a dark doorway or dark corner.
Have your cell phone on and preprogrammed with emergency numbers.
Change your route and times of departure frequently.
Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy in any situation, leave immediately.
Think like a thief. Ask yourself: “If I had an emergency and had to get into the house, where is the easiest area for me to get in?” Walk around inside and outside the house. These areas you see are the areas that need to be secured with security lights, iron bars, sensors, sensor lights, motion detectors, cameras or alarm systems.
Move all small appliances (e.g., microwaves, toaster ovens, etc.), art pieces, laptops, televisions and stereo systems etc away from windows or doors. If this is not possible, cover these items with a sheet or some sort of cover. Do not entice burglars by displaying your possessions.
Answering machines: Have a male, preferably Spanish-speaking, record your message. Any caller will assume there is a man in residence and you do not live alone.
Have friends and workers call before coming to the house. Do not open doors, day or night, to strangers. Look out a window, peephole or inaccessible balcony door for identification. Intercom systems, camera systems and door peepholes are recommended.
If workers are in your home put all keys away and after completing the job have all lock cylinders changed and new keys made. It is best to install locks with keys that cannot be duplicated.
When leaving the house try to change the time and route you take. Many houses are watched before they are burglarized. Do not give them a pattern to follow and depend upon.
Leave a radio or television on when going out. Give the impression that someone is home.
Rotate lights on timers at night. Use lights in different rooms at different times to make people think that the house is occupied.
If you have an alarm system, set it off periodically. This will inform passersby that the house is under surveillance.
The best defense is to be prepared and advertise that you are in control of your situation. Do not let down your guard.