Meg asked a good question in the comments to today’s scanner report: how can you avoid becoming a victim of street crime?
I called up Mike Yasutake, the Crime Prevention Coordinator for the East Precinct. Here’s his tips:
- At night, stick to well-lit areas, avoiding shortcuts through dark or otherwise sketchy areas.
- If you carry a purse, consider wearing it on the inside of your coat
- Travel light: Backpacks are often a target because so many people carry laptops in them
- Be aware of your situation. Don’t walk around with your iPod volume jacked up where you can’t hear anything else around you
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, change direction and don’t put yourself in a position where you can be victimized.
- If you have a cell phone, consider putting 911 on speed dial
- Avoid wearing visible, expensive jewelery that could make you a target
- Wear sensible shoes. It’s hard to escape bad situations in heels
- If you carry mace or pepper spray, make sure it’s easily accessible and know that it may not be effective on a windy or rainy day
- Walk with a purpose, head up, self-assured, and know where you’re going
There’s a whole list of tips at http://www.cityofseattle.net/police/prevention/Personal/streetsmarts.htm, and Mike is available to come out and talk to your and your neighbors, blockwatch, or other organization any time. You can reach him at 206-684-7717.
For a different perspective, I was talking with a neighborhood pastor at the last EPCPC meeting who has experience ministering to some of the young gang members and gang-wannabes we all see on the street. He made a suggestion that surprised me, saying that it’s not always the right choice to avoid and walk around these groups of kids when you encounter them on the street. He says that respect is the major factor in their world, and that consciously avoiding them is a big sign of disrespect, and that it’s actually preferable to walk through them and offer a polite “how are you all doing today?” type of greeting.
Again, trust your gut in all situations. But also realize that the overall crime rate in our neighborhood and the city at large is relatively low, so don’t let any of this stuff freak you out and make you stay indoors.