This week we explore author Ira Lipman’s excellent book, How to Be Safe: Protect Yourself, Your Home, Your Family, and Your Business from Crime. I believe that part of the secret to living a successful life is knowing how to protect yourself and your family from threats and Lipman does a good 360-degree job of showing us numerous, easy-to-use strategies we can apply right now.
Information is power, but you’ve got to have the information first. Staying informed is of utmost importance (Lipman xiii). Know your surroundings. Know the typical crimes in your neighbor hood or around your workplace or school. If you’re traveling, do some quick research into the types of crime and locations where it takes place. Unfortunately, we make crime too easy for the criminal because we largely walk around unaware of the dangers that surround us (Lipman xiv). So, the first step in crime prevention is to be aware.
As an aviation security expert, I’m often asked about when I fly – do I eye everyone suspiciously, trying to determine if the next underwear bomber or box cutter wielding hijacker is on board? Yes, I suppose I do, but I’m not paranoid about it – I make casual observations and let my instincts tell me if I should inform the flight crew about a suspicious person. But, I don’t stay awake and ready to strike at the first sign of danger. In fact, I usually sleep for part of the flight and immerse myself in a movie or email the rest of the time. You don’t have to be paranoid, just become an active observer of your surroundings. Also remember, that as our ability to protect ourselves evolves, so does criminals behavior and strategies.
While Lipman covers hundreds of strategies on protecting yourself and your belongings, I’m going to focus on the more pedestrian methods – some methods, like installing assault-resistant film on the windows in your home, go a bit beyond the definition of being just an “active observer” and should be considered if you’re in a high crime area.
- 1/3 of all burglars enter through an unlocked door or window (lock it up, even when you’re home) (Lipman 3)
- Make breaking in as difficult and time consuming as possible – use deadbolt locks, install exterior illumination lighting (Lipman 5)
- Lock your car in your driveway (still keeping your garage door opener in there?) (Lipman 8)
- Don’t believe visitors are who they say they are – many “salesman” are burglars in disguise (Lipman 19)
- Keep valuables in kids rooms, like a sock drawer or closet – burglars hardly ever go in there (Lipman 23)
- Favor loud dogs over vicious dogs (30)
- Use light timers – vary the times; you can also buy a device that simulates the flickering of your TV, which has been shown to be a more effective deterrent to crime than lights and timers (www.faketv.com)
- Don’t give out any, I repeat ANY information to someone who calls you (Lipman 55)
- Don’t disclose information to contractors or service personnel and remove medicines and valuables from view (Lipman 69).
- Use outdoor lighting, particularly in darker areas – darkness is a criminals best friend; trim the hedges and trees around your doors and windows as well – anything that offers cover or concealment should be removed
I hope the pest control dude that took my Vicodin a few years back either really enjoyed them or got a good street price for them – yes, I stepped out of the room for a second and that’s all the time it took for him to empty the bottle.
As you can see from the above list, just taking a few simple steps will reduce the likelihood you will become a victim of crime, and you don’t have to turn your house into Fort Knox.
Lipman, Ira A. How to Be Safe: Protect Yourself, Your Home, Your Family, and Your Business from Crime. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2011. Print.