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Don't be paranoid, but be smart

September 01, 2007|By DEE MAYBERRY

Rape, abductions and home invasions are problems in Washington County, as well as in urban areas. This writer recently received a set of tips worth passing on from an anonymous source.

With a few additions from experts, they are the following:

·The elbow is the strongest point on the body. If you are close enough to use it, do! A scream, a kick, fingers poked in the eyes also help a struggling woman free herself.

·If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, do not hand it over. Instead, toss it away from you. Chances are, there is more interest in the wallet or purse than in you. When he reaches toward it, run!

·If you are thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back taillights. There will be a hole for you to wave your arm. The driver won't see you, but others will.

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·Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, leaving work. They may sit quietly doing something with their checkbooks or making lists. Don't do this! Someone may be watching you and this is a perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, threaten you with a weapon and tell you to drive.

·As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and leave. Best idea is to lock it and (if a convertible, put the top up) before you leave.

·However, if a dangerous person is already in the car, unnoticed when you get in, do not drive off. Instead, gun the engine and speed into anything that will cause a wreck. Your air bag will protect you, but an intruder in the back seat likely will take the worst of the accident. After the car crashes, run (in a zigzag pattern).

·A few notes about getting into your car in a parking area:

1. Look around, especially look into your car, at the floors and in the back seat.

2. If you are parked next to a van, enter your car from the passenger door. Women have been pulled into a vehicle parked adjacent to the driver's side of their car.

3. If a man is sitting alone in the passenger seat nearest your vehicle, it might be best to walk away - ask someone to come along to see you safely into your car (malls, supermarkets, banks usually have a person available to do this. Don't be timid about asking).

Always take the elevator instead of the stairs in public buildings, especially at night. Stairwells can be dangerous places to be alone, even in your own apartment building. They can be perfect crime spots. It's a good idea to wait for others to be in the elevator with you.

Women tend to be sympathetic. They need to know that "helping" can make them victims.

If asked for assistance by a stranger it is better to get it, than give it.

Remember that serial killer Ted Bundy was a good-looking, harmless-appearing man. He pretended to need a cane or faked a limp. He looked vulnerable.

·My anonymous tipster described a "crying baby" approach, in which a recording of an infant is used to induce a woman to open her door. Apparently, it can happen even in broad daylight.

Suggestions: Ask a neighbor to see if an adult is standing outside. If you have dogs, bring them with you to the door. Late at night, call 911 to ask what to do.

·Driving presents its own hazards. Watch out for unmarked "police" cars with sirens and flashing lights. Don't pull over, but don't speed away. Blink your brake lights. Drive slowly to a public place with lots of observers. An officer who is genuine will understand.

·Some experts advise that all predators don't use guns, but those who do can hit a running target only once in four times.

The communication closes with the appeal, "I'd like you to forward this to all the women you know (they) may need to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of crazies ."

So, Washington County, there you have it - all good tips. Let's not be paranoid, but let's be safe and smart.

Dee Mayberry is a Boonsboro resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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