By Dedra Cordle
Does it help to think like a criminal in order to combat crime? According to law enforcement officials, it certainly does.
On Feb. 28, Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jessica Gabriel held a public safety class in Pleasant Township and began the one-and-a-half-hour seminar by encouraging the crowd to follow that piece of advice.
“Just ask yourself what they would do in any situation,” she said.
Having that mindset, she explained to the puzzled audience, could actually prevent you from becoming a victim to crime.
“Do not make things easier for them,” she warned.
For example, she said one should think like a criminal as they get ready to post personal information on social media platforms.
“Are you going to be posting about upcoming vacations?” she asked. “If you are, you’re making it easier for the bad guy to know when you are not home.”
She even said one must think outside of the box when it comes to criminal activity.
She used bumper stickers that announce what sport your child is involved in and which school they attend.
“It is very easy to look up a school schedule and find out when and where they are playing.”
Gabriel said she too has been told not to have public decals announcing that she is a law enforcement officer on personal vehicles.
“We all do not want to give people more information than they need.”
She also recommended that one think like a criminal and look around their house.
“Are your shrubs too high?” she asked. “If so, clear those away.”
Tall shrubbery, she said, provides cover for would-be criminals.
She also said do not leave ladders outside of your home.
“Those can be used to reach second floor windows.”
What about inside the house?
In the case of drapes and blinds, Gabriel said if you have them, use them, especially at night.
“The bad guy could be looking at you and you wouldn’t know it.”
She advised to keep windows either locked or secured so they only open a few inches. She said the same goes for doors.
When it comes to answering the door if the doorbell rings, she said there is no law that says you have to open it.
She also recommended that people ask to see identification from police officials should they be the ones ringing the bell.
“And if you’re still unsure,” she said, referring to the occasional scam where people pose as police officers, “call the department and ask if they are meant to be there.”
When it comes to personal safety outside of your home, Gabriel said one should think like a criminal.
“Are you looking down at your phone and not paying any attention?” she asked? “If so, you might make a good target.”
She said to pay attention to your surroundings at all times, even when you’re in the car.
“Keep the doors locked.”
She even advised the crowd to not offer assistance to broken down vehicles on the side of the road.
“Call the police if you see it.”
She said she has met many criminals who used that scenario to commit crimes.
Gabriel also recommended that people not accept assistance from passersby should they be the ones whose vehicle is broken down. She said to call the non-emergency line at 614-525-3333 should that happen in Franklin County. She also asked people program the number to the State Farm Safety Patrol – 614-387-2438 or 1-800-844-4030 – into their phones in case they are in need of roadside assistance.
The deputy also asked that women consider taking part in the Rape Aggression Defense class that the sheriff’s office hosts every few months. She said the 12-hour course, which is broken up into three weekends, offers ways to prevent attacks thought risk assessments and ways to fight back should the situation escalate.
That can be done, she said, by making an inquiry through the department’s website at sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov.
Those involved in leading the lessons will also come out to gatherings if there is a group of 40 or more women willing to take part in the program.
Other personal safety tips highlighted in the class include:
•Park near a cart corral in the parking lot.
•Use outdoor lighting such as motion detectors.
•Plant rose bushes or cacti near ground level windows.
•Keep storm doors locked.
•Jog outdoors with a friend.
•Do not keep house keys outside.
•Stand by the panel in an elevator.
•Get to know your neighbors.
•Remember to think like a criminal.