Street Smarts

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Test Your "Street Smarts" IQ: Do you…

  • Jog or walk by yourself early in the morning or late at night when the streets are quiet and deserted?
  • Stuff your purse with cash, keys, credit cards, checkbook - and then leave it wide open on a counter, your desk, the floor?
  • Put your wallet in a jacket, which you then hang up or throw over a chair?
  • Let your mind wander - thinking about your job, or all the things you have to do - when walking or driving?
  • Think it's a waste of time to lock your car when you'll be back in a few minutes?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you need to change a few habits. Even if you answered "no" and made a perfect score, read on. Spend a few minutes now to prevent trouble later.

Basic Street Sense

  • Wherever you are - on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, waiting for a bus or subway - stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.
  • Send the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going. 
    Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.
  • Know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, and restaurants, or stores that are open late.

On Foot

  • Stick to well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Don't flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket.
  • Try to use automated teller machines in the daytime. Have your card in hand and don't approach the machine if you're uneasy about people nearby.
  • Don't wear shoes or clothing that restrict your movements.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street.
  • Walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If you're scared, yell for help.
  • Have to work late? Make sure there are others in the building, and ask someone - a colleague or security guard - to walk you to your car or transit stop.

On Wheels

  • Keep your car in good running condition. Make sure there's enough gas to get where you're going and back.
  • Always roll up the windows and lock car doors, even if you're coming right back. Check inside and out before getting in.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas. Be especially alert in lots and underground parking garages.
  • If you think someone is following you, don't head home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station, gas station, or other open business to get help.
  • Don't pick up hitchhikers. Don't hitchhike.

On Buses and Subways

  • Use well-lighted, busy stops.
  • Stay alert! Don't doze or daydream.
  • If someone harasses you, don't be embarrassed. Loudly say "Leave me alone!" If that doesn't work, hit the emergency device.
  • Watch who get off with you. If you feel uneasy, walk directly to a place where there are other people.

If Someone Tries To Rob You

  • Don't resist. Give up your property, don't give up your life.
  • Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from becoming victims.

Take a Stand

  • Make your neighborhood and workplace safer by reporting broken street lights, cleaning up parks and vacant lots, and lobbying local government for better lighting in public places.
  • Join a Neighborhood, Apartment, or Office Watch to look out for each other and help the police.
  • Help out a friend or co-worker who's been a victim of crime. Cook a meal, babysit, find the number for victim services or a crisis hotline. Listen, sympathize, and don't blame.
  • Look at the root causes. Work for better drug treatment services, crime and drug abuse prevention education, and job and recreational opportunities for young people in your community.