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Dave Emanuel | Cut To The Chase

You’re standing in a parking lot reading a text on your phone.

You’re driving along, chatting with the person in the passenger’s seat.

You walk out of a store looking at your purchases to make sure everything you bought is in the bag,

After a very nice dinner, you leave the restaurant, lost in deep conversation with your dining companion.

Each of these scenarios seem to be different from the others, and each may seem innocent enough, but they have one, potentially dangerous aspect in common- they distract your attention from your surroundings. While you’re looking at your phone, chatting, checking your purchases or engaged in deep conversation, you’re not evaluating your surroundings. You may not even be aware of them.

And criminals in the area may be looking for people who are obviously not paying attention to what’s going on around them. Such people are the most desirable marks because they’ll be easily taken by surprise.

This isn’t to suggest that you should develop a case of paranoia, (although it does bring to mind the old adage, “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”) only that you should always make an effort to be aware of who and what is in a position to do you harm.

It’s almost impossible to avoid trouble if you are unaware that it’s brewing close by. Some tips-

Any time you change environments, “look before you leap”. When you walk out of a store, an office your house or any other building, you’re moving from an environment that’s known to one that’s unknown. As you walk into or out of a building, look for anything (including people) that’s unusual or out of place. This is especially important if you’re transition from an area that’s well-lit to one that is dark.

When preparing to enter of leave a vehicle, especially if it’s after dark, survey the area around the vehicle. If you see something that makes you uneasy, you may want to stay in your vehicle and drive to another location. If you’re returning to your vehicle, you may want to walk past it and come back to whichever side puts your furthest from a potential threat. When, and if appropriate, use a remote to unlock the vehicle, get in and lock the doors.

Whenever you’re driving, keep an eye on the rearview mirror and not the vehicles that are behind you. This is especially important as you near your destination. If a vehicle behind you continues to follow after you make a turn, or a series of turns, keep a closer eye on your mirror. In almost every case, the vehicle that appears to be following you will turn off at some point. If it doesn’t, you can simply drive past your destination, or call ahead to make sure you have a “welcoming committee” on hand when you arrive. If that’s no possible, another option is to drive to the nearest police station or call and explain your situation. (Make sure you have the dispatch number for the closest police facility stored in your phone. If you live in Snellville, the number is 770/985-3555.)

There are a number of other steps you can take to minimize your chances of being a crime victim, but overall, making it a habit to consciously survey your surroundings is one of the best defenses.