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Crime prevention for people with physical disabilities

Look out for yourself

  • Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, or waiting for a bus.
  • Send the message that you are calm, confident, and know where you are going.
  • Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk.
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, restaurants or stores that are open and accessible.
  • Avoid establishing predictable activity patterns. Most of us have daily routines, but never varying them may increase your vulnerability to crime.

At home

  • Put good locks on all your doors. Sturdy deadbolt locks are best. Make sure you can easily use the locks.
  • Install peepholes on front and back doors at your eye level.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Watchful neighbors who look out for you as well as themselves are a front-line defense against crime.
  • If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend record a message (giving your name, address and type of disability) to use in emergencies. Keep the tape in a recorder next to your phone.
  • Ask the police department to conduct a free home security survey to help identify any security concerns.

Out and about

  • If possible, go with a friend.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through vacant lots, wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket. If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked snugly between you and the inside of the chair.
  • If you use a knapsack, make sure it is securely closed.
  • Always carry your medical information, in case of an emergency.
  • Consider installing a cellular phone in your vehicle or always having one on your person.

Before you go on vacation

  • Plan ahead. If you are traveling by yourself, get maps and plan your route. Have your vehicle checked before you leave. Leave your itinerary with someone.
  • Leave copies of the numbers of your passport, driver's license, credit cards and travelers checks with a close friend or relative in case you need to replace these papers.
  • Put lights and a radio on timers to create the illusion that someone is at home while you are away. Stop mail and paper deliveries or ask a neighbor to take them in.

On public transportation

  • Use well-lighted, busy stops. Stay near other passengers. Sit by the driver.
  • Stay alert. Do not doze or daydream.
  • If someone harasses you, make a loud noise or say, "Leave me alone". If that doesn't work, hit the emergency signal.

Don't let a con artist rip you off

Many con artists prey on people's desires to find miracle cures for chronic conditions and fatal diseases. To outsmart con artists, remember these tips:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don't let greed or desperation overcome common sense.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Be aware of high-pressure tactics, need for quick decisions, demands for cash only, or high yield, low-risk investments.

(Reprinted from a brochure from the National Crime Prevention Council)