Monday, August 23, 2010

Suburban Safety

For years those towns and neighborhoods outside major cities have been considered safe and, for the most part, they generally are.  But that doesn't mean they're crime-proof or that those that live in the suburbs should assume they are.  Understandably things can be more relaxed - with nice backyards and friendly neighbors there's no harm in enjoying both all you can.  But other things, safety measures, should still be followed even in the suburbs...three things specifically should be kept in mind no matter where you live.  After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.


This one is a personal pet peeve of mine...the stubborn refusal of some to lock their doors because they live in the suburbs.  Now I've actually asked people why they don't lock their doors when they should and the answer I inevitably get is "This is [insert city/town name], we don't lock our doors here".  That is totally illogical to me as there is not a place in the world where crime cannot happen.  I'm not saying that doors must be locked and dead-bolted at all times - if you're out in the front or back yard and people are going in and out of the house having the door unlocked is understandable and easier - but at times when the occupants are away or at night they really should be.  These times are when you, your family, and your things are most vulnerable to start.  If you add to that a readily available way for anyone nearby to just walk on into your home it's a recipe for potential disaster.  Just because you don't live in a high-crime area doesn't mean you live in a crime free area so why not take the little bit of extra time and effort to ensure you're safe?


Elizabeth Smart was taken from her bedroom at knifepoint by Brian David Mitchell on June 4, 2002.  Mitchell's seeming point of entry and exit?  An open first floor window that he cut the screen of.  This is, of course, an extreme case, but it serves to illustrate a point.  Windows are a rather easy entry point for danger as well, even in the suburbs.  Again, like with doors, I'm not suggesting that all windows need to be locked at all times.  But at night, the windows that those outside might have easy access to - those on the basement or first floors or those near something that be can easily climbed (a tree, nearby ladder, or fire escape of some kind) - should be secured shut.  The average criminal (even the average serial killer) is looking for the easiest mark, in closing and locking your doors and windows at night you are announcing you are not that easiest mark.  In the end isn't that slight inconvenience of having to be sure your house is secured before you go to bed worth the peace of mind it brings?  ...And one other act of importance: If you have a security alarm in your home, use it!  You bought it, don't let it go to waste.

Just Outside Your Door

For the most part, no matter where you live, once you've settled in for the night that's it.  You're not going back out.  But what if someone comes to your door in seeming distress?  Their car's broken down or been in an accident...or maybe they've hit a small animal and worry it's someone's pet?  All they want is to come in and use your phone, theirs has died or been otherwise destroyed you see so if they could just use yours...  It's these circumstances that can get the naturally trusting, helpful, person thinking "nothing bad happens in my suburban neighborhood" it a lot of trouble and danger.  See, each of these little tales of woe from that person (male or female) on the other side of the door could be a ruse to get you to open your door and thus make yourself vulnerable.  Now, understandably, most don't want to be so rude as to tell the person to get lost so here's a rather clever, and safe, way of dealing with these situations...Tell the person to stay nearby, outside - in their car, on your stoop, wherever is most comfortable for you - while you call the authorities from within your home.  If the person really is in trouble, really does need your help, they'll stay.  If they say never mind or simply vanish into the night then, first, they probably never needed your help to start and, second, you've successfully avoided serious potential danger.

Author's Note: There's been a prevailing urban myth about rapists and killers using a voice recording of a baby crying outside women's doors to lure them out their homes at night.  This is a myth that has been debunked, it's never (to my knowledge or, seemingly, to anyone else's) actually been used.  This being said, it's rather clever and, considering it's popularity in circling "protect yourself" e-mails and the like, has potential for usage by some creep at some point.  And so, just in case, if you do happen to hear a baby crying outside in the night just call the police from the safety and comfort of your home and let them handle whatever is or is not found.