I had recently posted about a meeting with the Senior Inspector at the local police station and how he engaged us in a chat session where he gave us a few tips to keep us alert and hence safe in some common daily situations.
I am listing the tips here since all of you may not be lucky enough to have a considerate police officer in your area.
Most of the tips are rooted in common sense and logic, yet a lot of us choose to ignore them and on someday a criminal takes advantage of our ignorance and cynicism. The tips which we were given were to generally prevent or reduce break-ins and thefts and incidents of petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and chain-snatching.
Some tips for when you are out of the house:
Be aware of your surroundings.
While walking on the road, do not be so totally lost in thoughts or on the cell-phone that you do not notice danger to yourself and your possessions until it is too late.
Indian women love to wear expensive jewellery and most of them love to flaunt it. Well, it does not make sense to buy jewellery and keep it locked up at home. Wear it for sure. And flaunt it too. But, use a bit of logic and show it off only in a surrounding where you are sure that it would not attract unsavoury attention. A wedding or a party or get-together or even for a visit to a dear friend’s place may be fine times to get all decked up and bask in the sparkle… but while you are getting to the destination try as much as possible to cover up stuff of value especially when you are using public transport or while walking on the road. Tempting fate might not be a bright idea when your life could be at stake.
It is best to walk on the footpath wherever there is one. When out with a male companion, women should avoid walking on the side closer to the road. When you have your male companion in a position between you and the road, a chain snatcher on a bike or bicycle would find it quite a task to reach the chain on your neck.
As far as possible, walk on the side of the road where the traffic is facing you. This could give you valuable seconds when you sense mischief from someone like a chain snatcher who would inevitably be on a bike or bicycle. It is safer to avoid walking on the edge closer to the road at all times.
When you park your vehicle on the road or in a parking lot, do not leave valuables in the car. This is common sense which most of us know and yet ignore. Even if you have absolutely nothing of value in your purse / wallet / briefcase / backpack, etc., do not leave them in the car. You would know that there is nothing of any value in it but a thief would be tempted just the same to break into your car.
When you are out on errands with high value such as picking up cash from the bank, do not try and club a multitude of other mundane chores with it which would require you to leave your vehicle unattended, especially if the said valuables cannot be carried on your person.
Even when you just step out of the car for a smoke or to buy a bottle of mineral water from the roadside tapri (shack-shop) be sure to roll up the windows and lock the car.
Tips for when you are inside the house:
Most of us reside in apartments which are crowded 2 to 4 on a floor… yet we are all confined to our own lives. There is no reason to leave the entrance door open even if your building has guards, especially when there is no one in the room to keep an eye on the door.
A lot of us tend to be careless within the house in the smug knowledge and comfort of the fact that we are home and home is a safe haven. It is not completely wrong to be a little relaxed at home but absolute and regular carelessness could result in trouble… for example, routinely leaving jewellery out in the open around the house could incite a maid to flick it after the nth temptation.
Doors these days are not safe with a padlock alone. In fact, if the police are to be believed (and why should they not be) then a locked door is a signal to a thief / robber that you are away from home and they have a chance to break-in. So what should we do in such a case? Well, there are a couple of things that can be done.
Do not use a visible lock. Instead use one of those godown locks / heavy duty Mortise locks with the huge keys which require you to turn the tumbler some 8-16 times to open it. The lock part is on the part of the door inside the house and all that can be seen from outside is a key-hole. Also, safety latches are safer where they are not accessible from without the house.
Install a safety door. It adds that extra layer of protection and is a back-up for those times when you have been careless enough to leave your entrance door open. Again, avoid the ordinary visible padlock on it.
The peep-hole and the latch-chain on the doors are there for a reason. Use them.
Make sure that all the latches and locks are engaged before you retire for the night. Early in the morning, if you open the door for the milkman and the newspaper-waalah and then decide to catch a few more winks, then do lock the door again. Similarly, if you plan to sleep in the afternoon, then the locks of the entrance door are safer engaged.
In almost every city and town, it is usual to have the milkman bring you milk in the morning and the newspaper-man gets you your daily. When we go on a vacation, these services are not needed for the period. The general step people take is to stick a note on the entrance door asking the milk and paper to be stopped for the period of your absence. So now a prospective thief or robber has the exact period of time of your absence and time enough to plan and pull off a major heist. In this age of cell phones, all you need to do is call up the milkman or the newspaper service and let them know that you would like to stop their services temporarily or until further notice.
Before a vacation or trip, if you have large amount of cash and valuables in the house then either they should be deposited in a locker if you have one or packed safely and given over to the custody of a friend or relative whom you can trust. Some banks have a safe-deposit system where valuables can be safely kept for short periods, probably with a fee and provided you have an account with the said bank.
In the house, make it a habit to lock the doors of the wardrobes and cupboards where you keep valuables and especially when you leave on a trip, lock them and take the keys with you instead of leaving them on top of the cupboard or under the pillow. Do not keep keys ‘hidden’ in places which are common knowledge to everyone since ages… Under the pillow is one such place.
These tips are some of the basic steps we can follow for our own immediate safety. The cop had a lot more tips but the time did not permit an elaborate discussion on all of it. He offered us the opportunity to call him for a lengthy discussion if an audience could be arranged. That is nice and responsible of him.
Another important thing he told us and which I have also mentioned in my previous post is that we as citizens should not shirk from assisting the law-keepers as far as possible. A simple thing like shouting loud to attract attention if we see someone committing a crime can scare the criminal away. Notifying the nearest police-station is an even better idea.
Hope these tips help all of us be that much safer. Crime may not be totally wiped out by just these steps, but the rate of crime would take a hit with both the citizens and cops alert and working in tandem.
© Surya Murali