STONE: Take Ownership in Crime Prevention

Economic growth and success are welcome perks of a booming economy. However, this prosperity can also bring a very dark and indelible mark to the community by way of increased criminal activity. The by-product of crime is a negative impact to overall quality of life, including your own health. From the stress it creates, to the worst case scenarios of actual physical harm and loss of personal belongings, crime takes a toll on our wellbeing. Prevention is the best form of protection and knowing a few essentials can keep you avoid being a victim.

According to the most recent Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Report, Ector County has seen a steady increase in combined violent and property crimes since 2006. Regardless of where you live, however, crime can happen anywhere at any time. This means we all should exercise greater diligent and accept responsibility in protecting ourselves and families. It starts by avoiding situations where you’d need to defend yourself in the first place.

Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you at all times. From being preoccupied with your smartphone to simply talking or texting, distractions make you an easier target for criminals. Instead, stay alert, project confidence, and insure eye contact has been made to those around you. It doesn’t mean you need to do a complete stare down, but making eye contact serves notice to others you have seen them and know their location in proximity to yours. Also, listen to your instincts. If something just doesn’t seem right by the way a person or people are looking or acting around you, take note and take action. Leave the area as quickly as possible or get to another location where others can help if necessary.

Contact local law enforcement immediately if you witness any suspicious or obvious unlawful activity. Between our cities, highways, and counties … there is a tremendous area to cover for patrolling units. Law enforcement is only as good as the information they receive to better serve and protect our communities and neighborhoods. They rely on accurate reports to more efficiently provide these services in order to keep us safer. To assume they know when criminal activities occur is not reality. They need as many extra sets of eyes and ears as possible. When in doubt … report what you see as soon as possible.

Criminals are often opportunistic and prey on victims who are oblivious to the world around them. To be less appealing, don’t allow yourself to be an easy target. Start by making sure your valuables are accounted for by securing them appropriately and not leaving them out in the open unattended. While the best option is to leave them locked up at home altogether, keeping them from being visible should be your next priority. Consider what you’re wearing and what is vitally necessary for any trips you take. Whether it’s a quick run to the grocery store or a weeklong vacation, avoid enticement for would-be attackers by taking the minimum required items with you, specifically high value items such as jewelry, electronics, and apparel. Lastly, make sure your vehicle is locked. As simple as this sounds, it works! An unlocked care makes easy work for would-be robbers.

Sometimes evading situations may not be enough to avoid an assault or crime. If you fear an attack is imminent or inevitable, self-defense may be the last remaining option. Being proactive now, rather than later, by training yourself appropriately to defend and escape an attack is key. While some choose to take self-defense classes, others also obtain their concealed handgun license (CHL). While taking a CHL course is a viable option, it is imperative you remain confident in safely handling and firing the weapon you intend to carry. Above all, fight back and fight hard. Regardless if your attacker outweighs you, do whatever it takes to end the threat … fight dirty if you have to … make noise … do whatever it takes to get away and get to safety. Violent crime can insight fear and stress, both of which affect judgment and performance so the more training you have beforehand (whether it’s hand to hand combat or shooting a firearm) the better your chances of stopping any would be attack against you.

Violent crime may be rising, but being proactive can keep you from being a statistic. Know your surroundings, avoid situations that breed criminal activities, contact law enforcement, and have a plan to both escape and … if necessary defend yourself.