Crime Prevention & Safety for Individuals : Personal Safety | Safety for Children & Teens | Safety Tips for Seniors | International Student Safety | Social Networking and Internet Safety | Preventing Fraud | Online Identity Theft | Identity Theft
Many people fear the possibility of being robbed or assaulted while outside the safety of their home and, though these incidents are fairly rare, they do happen. There are some basic steps that you can take to help prevent an assault or to respond correctly if something does happen.
These are basic steps, so they may seem extremely simple, but they do work. The most important thing in any of these situations is to be aware of your surroundings at all times and to trust your gut instinct. If a certain person, place, or situation makes you feel uncomfortable, get out immediately.
At a Club or At a Party
- never let your drink out of your sight and if it does, get a new one
- don't sample drinks from people, even friends or acquaintances
- most victims of sexual assault know their attacker
- while "date rape" drugs have been gaining in popularity, alcohol still accounts for the majority of sexual assaults where the victim is unconscious during the attack - if you are going to drink, do so responsibly or have friends you trust there to watch over you
- see more safety tips on preventing drug-facilitated sexual assaults
- keep all the doors locked, even when you are inside the car
- park in well-lit areas
- visually inspect the interior of the vehicle before you get in
- have your keys ready before you get to the door, holding them between your thumb and forefinger in a ready position - if you are attacked, they can be used as a defensive tool and fumbling for your keys makes your more vulnerable for an attack
- never hold your keys interlaced between your fingers, because keys are very brittle and will break if you hit someone while holding them in this manner
- if someone tries to get in your car while you’re driving, simply drive off - if you’re unable to do this, hold down on your horn to alert other people to your situation
- bring a cell phone along if you have one - you can always call for help without having to look for a phone
- stay alert, stand tall and be confident - attackers are more likely to molest a person who appears uncertain or afraid
- carry cash and valuables in a front or inside pocket to reduce the attraction for muggers - if you need to carry a purse or bag of some sort, consider using a fanny pack
- avoid carrying large sums of cash, but if you have to, be discreet about it
- if you wish to give someone spare change, never pull out your wallet or open your purse - take change out of your pocket instead
- use well-lit streets, stay to the middle of the sidewalk and avoid alleyways
- approach shadowy doorways, shrubbery, or anything that someone could hide behind with extra caution
- if you feel uneasy walking alone, find someone you know who will go out with you, or plan your route along busy streets so that there are always people around you
- if you think someone is following you, cross the street and turn to walk in the opposite direction to get a good look at them and then go find the nearest place to alert the authorities
- if you think a car is following you, immediately do a u-turn, take note of the driver and license plate number, continue to walk in the opposite direction and call the authorities from the nearest possible location
- carry a whistle or personal safety alarm so you can alert others if you are attacked
- do not carry a weapon, even for self-defense - most policemen killed in the line of duty are done so with their own weapon, even though they are trained in their use. If you are assaulted, introducing a weapon will only increase the severity of the attack, and increase the chance of severe injury to yourself. Carrying a weapon also creates the chance of you or someone else being accidentally hurt, for which you would be held responsible.
- if you are verbally harassed, do not respond, keep walking and notify the nearest authority
If You Are Stalked or Attacked
- the most important thing is to tell the police - they are the best resource for stopping the problem and the earlier you contact them, the earlier they can help
- keep a written record of everything - tell friends, relatives, employers, co-workers or anyone else who witnesses an incident of your problem, so that they can keep a record as well
- most importantly, remember that it is not your fault and you have nothing to be ashamed of - you will need help and emotional support in this difficult time, whether it comes from friends, relatives or support groups
- if you are attacked, try to comply with the attacker’s wishes - if they want you to turn over cash and valuables, these can be replaced
- try to remain calm throughout the situation, as becoming hysterical will only make the situation worse and put the attacker more on edge
- if you are being physically or sexually assaulted, try to get attention. A whistle or personal alarm is very effective and if you have to scream for help, try yelling "fire" to get people’s attention as opposed to yelling "help.”
- try to remember details about the person’s appearance, such as their height, age, hair or eye colour, or any tattoos or scars
- report the incident immediately - the details are fresher in your mind and the police have a better chance of catching the offender in the area
- visit Vancouver Police Domestic Violence and Criminal Harassment Section webpage for more information
Running, Jogging or Rollerblading
- make sure you know your route
- avoid wooded areas at night, and stay to well-lit areas
- try to run facing oncoming traffic and wear reflective clothing
- personal stereos and i-pods, make it hard to be fully aware of your surroundings so try not to use them, especially at night
- when cycling or rollerblading, wear a helmet and reflective clothing, especially when you use the roadways
Using an ATM Machine
- if anything strikes you as suspicious use a different machine - trust your gut instinct
- after dark, make sure to look for well-lit machines
- do not use a machine if there is someone hanging around
- cover the keypad with one hand while typing in your code with the other, even if you are by yourself - you may feel silly doing it, but it is a good habit to start and there have been cases of people using binoculars or video cameras to capture pin numbers
- if no money comes out, make sure to check the money slot for blockages and notify the bank immediately - a recent popular scam has been for people to block the money slot with a piece of plastic and then return to collect the money after the customer leaves
- if using a drive-through bank machine, make sure all of your car doors are locked
- plan your route beforehand, and know the transit schedule
- choose busy and visible stops
- at night, use well-lit stops and sit near the driver
- if the bus doesn't come and you are in a hurry, do not hitchhike – it is dangerous and in some cases illegal
Have You Been a Victim of Crime?
The Vancouver Police Victim Services Section can assist you with resources and support.
You can put your safety at risk if you are intoxicated. Your judgement and ability to make good decisions may be affected.
For information on the effects of binge drinking, visit bingedrinking.ca.
Protect Your Cell Phone
Do you know your phone's IMEI number? Do you know where to find it? You can enter *#06# on most devices to obtain it.
If your cell phone has been lost or stolen, or you are buying a used one, you should be aware of the phone's IMEI number and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association Blacklist.