The news is full of stories about people who have been raped, robbed, mugged, or otherwise assaulted, and everyone cringes when they hear these reports. Who hasn’t feared becoming one of these victims? The truth, however, is that the incidence of personal violence has dropped to its lowest level in almost three decades.
Everyone - and this applies to residents of big cities, small towns, and even rural areas - needs to be careful, but these lower rates of crime are evidence that if people are vigilant and take common-sense precautions, crime can be prevented.
But you may wonder how to ensure that. While no one can guarantee your total safety, you can lessen the chance of being a victim by making it more difficult for a would-be thief or attacker.
Keep your doors locked when home alone and lock your windows too when leaving the house for any long period of time. Open doors and windows are an invitation that you don't want to send. Turn your porch lights on at night and illuminate your backyard to ensure that anyone lurking there will be easily detected.
On the Street
Make sure you are not an easy target for crime on the street. Carry your purse in a manner that makes it hard to get--across your chest or under your arm where more than a simple grab is needed to snatch it. Men should carry their wallets in their inside coats or side pants pocket, never in your back pants pocket where it is easy to grab. If you walk to and from work or public bus stops, particularly at night, use well-lit and populated streets. When possible, walk with friends and, if you can, vary the route you take each night.
In your Car
Lock your doors and be sure to store your purse, wallet or other valuables beneath your seat. Park in well-lit areas for the safety of your car and yourself and always lock your car. If you notice that the street lights are out, call the Street Department at 701.241.1453 to make sure this "condition for crime" is remedied.
Always be ready and carry your keys in your hands so that you are ready to open the door. If you know you will be coming home after dark, make sure to leave some lights on.
Remember, a crime-free city requires that everyone report suspicious activity to the police immediately.
Safety for Realtors
Real estate is considered by security experts as a high-risk profession. As a real estate professional, you put yourself at risk every day and may not realize it. Meeting new clients, showing properties, holding open houses, letting strangers get into your car, and even your marketing may be jeopardizing your personal safety. Such everyday tasks seem harmless, but as some real estate professionals across the country have learned the hard way, these situations can expose you to danger.
- Always have your phone with you and charged and touch base with someone you know as to where you will be and what time you are expected to be done.
- Identify the person you are working with before you join him or her alone in a car or a house. Copy his or her driver's license.
- Show properties before dark if possible. If you show a property after dark, turn on all lights as you go through, and don't lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
- Limit the amount of personal information you share with your clients and through social media.
- If possible, do not man an open house alone. Have a planned escape route. Check all rooms to ensure there are no stragglers and lock all doors.
- When showing a home, always have your prospect walk in front of you. Don't lead them, direct them from a position slightly behind them. You can gesture for them to go ahead of you and say, for example, "The master suite is in the back of the house."
- Find a good self-defense class by asking peers, family or friends.
- Create a secret word or phrase that is not commonly used but can be worked into any conversation for cases where you feel that you are in danger. For example, "Hi, this is Jennifer. I'm with Mr. Henderson at the Elm Street listing. Could you email me the RED FILE?"
- Have your excuse ready. Prepare a scenario in advance so you can leave, or you can encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. For example, your cell phone or pager went off and you have to call your office; or you left some important information in your car; or another agent with buyers is on his way.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Is there any questionable activity in the area? Where are you parked? Can you be blocked in the driveway by another vehicle? Is there anyone loitering in the area?
- Download a mobile safety app for real estate professionals.
- Always trust your gut instinct.