- Be aware of your surroundings! Keep your head up and be looking around.
- Hold your purse close to your body or under your coat. By not looking like an easy mark for a would-be purse snatcher, you might discourage his attention all together. If you do get mugged, minimize your damage by keeping only small amounts of cash with you and copies of all your id and credit cards at home so you can cancel them easily.
- Look around you when you approach your parked car to see if anyone is close by. Have your keys in your hand so that you can get into your car very quickly and lock the car immediately. Keep the car doors locked and the windows rolled up nearly all the way, or all the way, when you're driving. Whenever you stop, be sure that you can see the road between your car and the car in front of you; that will give you enough space to maneuver if you have to suddenly pull out to one side or the other. Always check the back seat area and beneath your car before entering.
- Even if you don't have a weapon on you, you can improvise. I always carry my keys so that they are poking between the fingers of my fisted hand so if I have to throw a punch, I can put out an eye.
- Whenever possible, don't walk alone. The more the merrier. And if you do have to walk alone--make sure someone knows when to expect you so that if you don't show up when expected, they can contact authorities. I ask my daughter to always call me when she gets to her destination.
- The best way to avoid trouble is to look like you'd cause more trouble than someone else the criminal could come across. Becoming a victim is NEVER the victim's fault--but it surely helps if you don't look like you'd be particularly easy to subdue. By staying with a group, by holding your purse close, by looking aware of your surroundings, by having your pepper spray out when you walk to your car....you increase your chances of being passed over.
And please be wary of email forwards with advice for thwarting criminals without first checking the authenticity for yourself. I suggest Snopes . For instance, there is a popular forward going around saying that you can dial #77 on your cell phone to verify that the person pulling you over is actually an officer of the law and not someone with a store bought police light. This is false--there is no universal number that will connect you with every state's highway patrol. If you are really unsure, use 911 and 911 only.
So, what are your empowering tips and tools?