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Personal Safety

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According national statistics, the FBI estimates that in 2013, a violent crime occurred every 27.1 seconds. This is further broken down to show that a murder occurred every 37 minutes, a rape every 6.6 minutes, a robbery every 1.5 minutes, and an aggravated assault every 43.5 seconds (https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/browse-by/national-data). Because of devastating crimes, it is important for everyone to protect himself or herself.

Do Not Be Tricked By Appearances

Remember, not every criminal looks like a psychopath with crazed eyes. In fact, most victims know their assailant. Serial killers are often attractive, charming people.

Use The Buddy System

There is strength in numbers. Never walk or drive alone if possible, especially at night. Numbers discourage criminals because their goals become harder to achieve.

Vary Your Schedule

Many criminals stalk their victims before striking. In order to avoid a dangerous, "predictable" pattern, change your schedule often or vary your route whenever possible.

Be Accountable

Find someone with whom you can be accountable. For instance, if you must walk alone, call someone and tell him or her where you are going, and what time you will return. Plan to call them when you arrive or return. If you are late, your contact person can call the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office at 843-719-4412 and advise them of the situation.

Do Not Advertise Your Belongings

Use common sense. Avoid the obvious. Carry your money in an inner coat pocket, or fanny pack. If you use a purse, carry a shoulder bag held close to your body or worn inside your coat.

Never Agree To Pull Over

Unless a law enforcement officer is in a marked car; never agree to pull off the road. Many criminals obtain victims by indicating their car or the victim's car is having problems.

Take Care Of Your Car

Never leave your keys in the car. Always lock doors and keep valuables out of view. To avoid car problems, keep your car in good working order. Consider purchasing an emergency roadside kit, a cellular phone or CB radio. If you must pull over, light flares and put up emergency triangles. Lock yourself in the car and wait for assistance.

For more information about how to form a watch group, or information about existing groups in your area, contact the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Division at 843-719-4713.

Lower your Likelihood of Becoming a Victim

Take extra precautions to lessen your likelihood of becoming a victim.

While Walking

  • Avoid walking alone at night
  • Walk only on busy, well-lit streets
  • Vary your daily routine
  • Carry a whistle
  • Do not walk too closely to the inside of a sidewalk, near bushes, alley entrances, driveways or entrances to private places
  • Try not to overload yourself with packages
  • Do not hitchhike or accept rides from strangers
  • If a car approaches and the driver bother you, walk in the opposite direction
  • If someone asks you for directions from their car, do not walk over to them, make them speak louder
  • Don't walk through dark parking lots, parks or other dark places
  • If you think someone is following you, do not go home, go instead to a neighbor's house, open business or other well lighted place where there should be people to help you
  • If you arrive home by taxi or with a friend, ask them to wait until you are inside your home

In Your Home

  • Keep doors locked at all times
  • Do not hide door keys outside of your home
  • If door keys have been lost, change the locks or re-key immediately
  • Avoid giving your house keys to anyone other than family members or trusted friends
  • Be sure the exterior of your home is well-lit at night
  • Instruct children never to answer a doorbell or a knock at the door
  • Put curtains or blinds on all windows and keep them closed at night
  • Install solid wood or metal doors equipped with good deadbolt locks
  • Move exterior door hinges to the interior or install non-removable hinge pins
  • Install a wide-angel peephole for a full view outside the door
  • Do not leave clubs or night spots with strangers or invite them to your apartment or home
  • When moving into a house or apartment, change or re-key all locks
  • Know the neighbors you can trust in an emergency
  • When returning home, have your keys ready and enter the house as quickly as possible
  • Use your initials rather than your first name in the phone book and on your mailbox
  • If you hear a prowler inside your house, get out of the house, if possible, exit through a back door or window to avoid any confrontation with the prowler
  • If you sense that something is not right, do not go into your home or apartment, call the police
  • If a stranger asks to use your phone, get the information and place the call for the requestor, do not allow any stranger into your home
  • Never let it be known that you are home alone
  • Avoid going out alone at night

In Your Car

  • Always check the back seat of your car before entering
  • Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up at all times
  • Always park in a well-lit busy location
  • If someone tries to force their way into your car, blow the horn
  • Keep your car properly maintained
  • If you think you are being followed by another car do not go home, drive to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station, or other well-lit place, do not get out of your car, rather, use your horn to summons help
  • Be sure your house, garage and driveway are well lighted
  • When you reach home, leave your car lights on until you open the garage and have your house key ready before you get out of the car
  • Leave your car in gear when you have to stop at intersections
  • When you go out, be sure to let someone know your destination, route and expected time of return
  • Use busy, well-lit streets when possible
  • Be sure you have enough gas to get to your location
  • If you wish to help a stranded motorist, do not stop, go to the nearest telephone and call for help
  • If you park your vehicle during the day and return at night, park near the street and building lights when possible
  • Stay alert and attuned to things going on around you, do not leave your car if you observe any suspicious persons in the area
  • Have your car key ready before you approach the car so you do not make yourself vulnerable while searching for the right key
  • When parking in a valet lot, leave only your ignition key
  • o If your car breaks-down in an isolated area, turn on the emergency blinkers, raise your hood, get back in your car as quickly as possible, lock your doors and keep the windows rolled up. If someone stops, ask that they send help, do not get out of your vehicle or accept rides from anyone other than properly identified repair and delivery personnel.
  • Never open your door to anyone you do not know. Always verify by telephone that these persons work for the company they say they represent and have been sent for the reason stated.
  • o Most service company employees carry identification cards. Examine the identification carefully. If such a person does not have an ID, get their name and call the company they claim to represent before letting them in.

During Telephone Calls

  • Never give a caller any reason to think you are home alone
  • Do not give your name, phone number or address to a telephone caller
  • Hang up on obscene or frightening phone calls. If they persist, blow a whistle loudly into the mouthpiece. Write down the date, time, and what was said and heard in each call.
  • If threatening or obscene call persist, report them to the phone company and block the phone number after making a police report.

In Public Elevators

  • If you are worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something, and do not get on it.
  • Do not enter an elevator if there is a person on it whom you are suspicious of. Wait for the next elevator.
  • Look inside the elevator to be certain no one is hiding inside before getting on
  • Stand near the control panel
  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency buttons of the elevator
  • If you are attacked, push the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible
  • Get off if someone suspicious enters