In today’s world, maintaining personal safety and actively protecting yourself from robberies, burglaries, and identity theft is a necessity. While methods of victimization can evolve based on technological advances and criminal trends, certain personal safety measures never go out of style. Staying alert while you’re out in public, reducing distractions, and opting to run errands during the day, for example, can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a statistic in your local police blotter. Other types of protective measures, such as those involving alarm systems and digital devices, may need to be modified as new threats emerge. Regardless of where you find yourself and your valuables, you can safeguard yourself from becoming a victim of crime at home, while traveling, or at work.

Stay Safe by Protecting Yourself

Staying alert, minimizing distractions, and listening to your instincts can protect you from harm when you’re out and about. When moving through public areas, you can make yourself less appealing to criminals by adopting an air of confidence, choosing to not show off expensive items, walking without using your cell phone or headphones, and taking paths that are well-lit. Driving can present its own types of threats, so protect yourself by locking your doors, ignoring aggressive drivers, allowing yourself enough space on the road to maneuver out of tricky situations, and stopping at a police station if you believe that you’re being followed. Remember that there’s power in numbers: You can decrease your chances of being a magnet for crime by choosing to stay in a group with your friends, families, or associates. Stay safe at work by minimizing the amount of personal information that you share with co-workers, leaving valuable items at home, making use of lockers and door locks, and opting to have a security guard escort you to your vehicle at night.

Prevent Criminal Trespassing and Burglary at Home

Basic home security starts with changing up your routine: Make it a habit to lock doors and windows and ask visitors to identify themselves before opening your front door. Help emergency services come to your aid, should you need it, by trimming tree limbs that obscure views and putting reflective numbers on the front of your home so that they can easily identify your address. If you plan to leave your house for an extended period of time, such as for a vacation, make sure that someone maintains your home so that burglars won’t think that it’s unoccupied. Rent a box at the post office to have your mail temporarily routed, have a neighbor retrieve your daily newspaper from your driveway, and pay someone to maintain your lawn. If you’ve recently moved to a new home or apartment, consider changing door locks and any other security devices that require keys or codes, like alarm systems or garage door openers.

Reduce Your Attractiveness to a Robber

Preventing a potential robbery requires that you remain alert and make good, if temporarily inconvenient, choices. Generally, you should be aware of your surroundings by scanning every place that you enter for suspicious activity; robbers may scout areas and loiter around them if they believe that certain locations are secluded enough to perpetrate a crime. It can be a good idea to modify your schedule so that you can take care of personal errands during daylight hours, but always avoid taking shortcuts to your destinations if they provide potential covers for robberies to take place. Before approaching your vehicle, survey the environment to determine if anyone is hiding around or underneath your car. Always have your keys ready to open your car door so that you won’t waste time looking for them and give robbers an opportunity to attack you while you’re distracted.

If you find yourself in a robbery situation, there are a number of actions that you can take to minimize potential harm. Listen to robbers and acquiesce to their demands. But while you should be ready to cooperate, don’t offer to do anything more than what they initially demand. Announce your movements before you make them so that robbers aren’t taken by surprise and made hostile or nervous. Though being victimized by a criminal can make anyone angry, exercise self-control and don’t argue with the robber; doing so may lead to the robber using force against you.

Deter Motor Vehicle Burglaries

Your personal items can be at risk of being stolen if you keep them in your vehicle. To protect your belongings and your car, always park it in your personal garage or a public, well-lit area. Avoid leaving your valuables, important papers, and packages in the front of your vehicle; if you must keep items in your car, cover them with a jacket or blanket or lock them in your trunk. Make sure that your windows are always rolled up, and lock your doors when you leave your vehicle. Invest in crime deterrent devices and systems like car alarms; you can also buy steering wheel locks and kill switches if you think that your entire vehicle may be at risk of theft.

Stop Identity Theft in its Tracks

When a criminal steals your identity and opens unauthorized accounts, uses credit in your name, and makes withdrawals from your bank accounts, your entire personal and financial life can be affected for decades. While identity theft can be committed the old-fashioned way through Dumpster diving and mail theft, increasingly sophisticated criminals are using technology to their advantage and perpetrating these crimes over the Internet and by phone. To guard yourself against this type of theft, keep on top of your financial information: Review your monthly bank statements, check junk mail for surprise bills that don’t coincide with your purchases, and sign up for a credit monitoring service. Keep your Social Security card in a secure location, don’t write down your personal identification number for your ATM card, shred bills and other papers with identifying information on them before throwing them away, and only give out personal information to trusted businesses after calling them first. You can also further protect yourself by signing up for a post office box to receive your mail, mailing payments from a post office, and picking up important financial documents instead of having them delivered to your home.