Crime can happen at any time. It is important to always be aware of your surroundings but to also know how to protect yourself should you ever be put into a crime situation. Information is power. Equip yourself with the following for a safe and secured life in the new year.

1. If possible, don’t jog, walk or drive alone — especially at night and in less-populated areas.

Simply put: There is usually enhanced safety in numbers.

2. Properly lock your home — including closing your garage door — even when you are at home. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been dispatched to an incident where valuables (tools, lawnmowers, bikes, toys, etc.) have been taken from an open garage, even when the victim was at home.

Simply put: Install and use good home locks and secure your garage.

3. Take the time to record the serial numbers of all your valuables. Also, you may want to consider marking certain items with your state driver’s license number or other identification materials. You may also want to consider videotaping the contents of your home.

4. Please be sure to listen to that “little voice” inside of all of us. Be aware of your surroundings (law enforcement folks call this “situational awareness”) and look for any suspicious persons and activities.

Simply put: Trust your instincts.

5. Don’t carry around large amounts of cash or wear glittery valuables. Also, if you need to use an ATM, go to a busy, well-lit location and only withdraw the amount of cash you really need.

Simply put: Don’t flash your cash and valuables.

6. Park your vehicle in well-lit, populated areas. Don’t leave your key in the ignition and properly secure your vehicle (i.e. close your windows and lock the doors) when you park. Also, don’t leave any valuables in plain sight.

Simply put: Don’t make your vehicle a personal invitation to a potential lawbreaker.

7. Get to know your neighbors. In setting-up neighborhood watch programs, it is often said that a so-called “nosy neighbor” is the best home break-in crime fighting device available.

Simply put: Your trusted neighbor may be your first line of defense against criminal activity in your home.

8. Consider carrying a mobile phone — especially if you are going somewhere alone. Also, you may want to tell a family member or a close friend of your travel plans in case of an emergency.

Quick security tip: A mobile phone will not only be useful as a possible crime prevention tool, but also in case of other types of emergencies.

9. Consider installing a high-quality security system — both in your home and vehicle.

Simply put: It’s better to scare criminals away before they enter your home rather than to encounter them inside.

10. If you do observe any suspicious persons or activities — call your local police immediately.

Simply put: It’s better to call law enforcement to report a suspicious person or incident rather than to wait until an actual crime is committed.

A final word: Use your common sense. Be and act smart.

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