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Avoid being a robbery victim

July 15, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

Police offered the following tips on ways individuals and store owners can make themselves and their businesses less vulnerable to being robbed.

Individuals

·When leaving a building, be prepared. Have your keys ready and scan the parking lot for any unusual behavior. Robbers tend to go after the unprepared pedestrian, such as a person rooting through a purse or a person who is oblivious to his or her surroundings.

·If carrying a purse, cup the purse instead of letting it dangle from your arm.

·Use common sense. Avoid putting yourself in danger. For instance, don't walk through alleys at 3 a.m. and don't go places such as Hagerstown City Park after dark.

·Walk in groups. If leaving a building late at night, try to walk with a co-worker or a friend.

·If you have to leave a building by yourself after dark, put your cell phone up to your ear and pretend to talk to someone. A robber might not risk attacking someone with help on the other end of the line.

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· Don't become a creature of habit. Change routines, such as the routes taken to walk to your car or to your home.

Businesses

· Have at least two people working any given shift. Police said robbers are more likely to hit a store in which only one person is working.

·Clear windows of clutter. Advertisements or heavy shades on windows block the public from seeing what's happening in the store, including the motions of a robbery. That can make a criminal feel more secure.

·Install good lighting inside and outside of the store. A well-lighted store could deter some criminals.

· Install quality video camera systems. A prominent video camera or camera system might deter some criminals from robbing the store. If it captures a good image, it also makes it easier for police to pinpoint a suspect in a robbery.

· Add height strips to doors. The strips, which run the length of a door jamb, help clerks better pinpoint the height of a robber as they're entering or leaving the business. That can help those robbed provide a more accurate description of the robber.

If you're robbed

Police offered the following advice for what to do if you become the victim of a robbery.

· Do what that person tells you to do. If the robber wants your purse, comply.

·Never allow a robber to take you from the scene. If they're willing to take you somewhere, they're willing to do more to you than rob you.

· Observe. Without jeopardizing your own safety, try to remember as much about the robber as you can. Pay attention to physical attributes that don't change, such as facial structure, body build and tattoos. Make note of whether the robber touches anything.

· Listen. If there is more than one robber, pay attention to what they say to each other. During a robbery, one robber could make a slip and call the other by name.

After a robbery

Police offered the following advice on what to do after a robbery.

·Call police.

· Don't touch anything. If a robbery occurs, it's important that operations in a business establishment cease, the store is secured and no one touches anything.

Information provided by officers with the Hagerstown Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff's Department and the Hagerstown barracks of Maryland State Police.

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