Note. This answer is for both men and women who are living alone.
In the course of our lives, many of our friends and family embark on a journey to pursue their career. And they begin their new life, alone in a new city.
We believe apartments and societies with good facilities such as security cameras, 24-hour security guards, intercoms and other features are secure but everywhere there is a risk and the only way to ensure safety is by taking necessary precautions.
The following story is just one of the many horrific stories that happened in one of the societies which we could have judged to be the safest after knowing the security facilities present there:
On August 9, 2012, Pallavi, a lawyer, was murdered in her rented flat in Wadala by the security guard of her apartment building.
Here is a brief recap of the news report:
1. Pallavi worked as an advocate for Excel Entertainment. She lived in Wadala, sharing her apartment with her boyfriend.
2. The building's security guard deliberately tripped the power twice that night, and stole the keys from Pallavi’s apartment when the electrician came to fix the problem.
3. The guard was reported to have bought a knife 15 days prior to the crime and had told other building staff that he planned to scare Pallavi and rape her.
4. The intercom of the flat wasn’t working and the 4 CCTV cameras were deactivated on the morning of August 9, 2012 allegedly by the guard.
5. He confessed that his intent was not murder, but rather to rape the 25-year old. When Pallavi aggressively fought back, he used a knife to slash her throat. He was subsequently charged with murder, molestation and trespassing.
6. The Police arrested him at a railway terminus the evening after her body was found. He had planned to catch a train to flee the area.
7. Pallavi’s boyfriend did not survive to see if justice was served. He died following an illness in November 2013. Police reported that following the murder, he also suffered from depression.
8. Investigation by the police found that the security guard’s employer, a private security firm, did not have his complete address. This has prompted the requirement for stringent documentation of security guards hired by private firms.
9. The sentencing of the guard is to be on the July 2. Both her family and the police are demanding the death sentence.
Some may say this is just one solitary incident, A Google search of ‘security guard raping a woman’ yields these results on just the first three pages.
I discussed the above incident with a fellow Quoran and I was encouraged to collect the following safety tips for both men and women to avoid such types of criminal activity.
Key control. Take a lot of precautions with keys. Avoid trusting strangers with keys. Always change locks when you move into a new apartment or house. And be sure to keep track of how many copies are made and who is in possession of them- Your safety depends on it. Most importantly, NEVER hide your keys outside your apartment or house. Hiding keys under your doormat, in a flowerpot, or in a fake rock doesn’t work anymore—those are the first places intruders check. Don’t ever put your full name, address, or other personal information on your house keys.
Latch. Along with other key based locks also have Latch or any other type non-key based locks that can't be opened from outside.
Constant Vigilance. Learn to look around frequently while opening or closing the door to make sure no one is lurking around.
Home Delivery. Try to avoid late night home delivery of food.
Trust your instincts: If you're feeling uncomfortable about a situation pay attention to that gut feeling. Your instincts help keep you alert. If something doesn't feel right, whether it be the walk home, a neighbor, a stranger, or anything, take precautionary actions.
Have a backup plan. Irrespective of precautions, some incidents do happen like a key getting lost or strange movements of a person. Have a backup plan about what to do - and who to turn to for help.
Be prepared and know where things are: Know where something is at the time you need it - like a torchlight, batteries, duplicate home key, etc.
Know your neighborhood: Chances are, you're pretty familiar with your neighborhood. Still think about it: do you know the safe places you can go and the not-so-safe places you need to avoid? Get a general feel for your neighborhood during the day and at night. Things to consider:
1. Before moving in check statistics on crime by speaking with people that live in the neighborhood and local businesses. You may also look online for a service that provides the crime statistics for the neighborhoods you are considering.
2. Public places, small neighborhood businesses, or community centers are good places to go when you're in a jam, especially if you see kids inside.
3. Contact numbers of emergency services like local police station, nearest hospitals, ambulance services, fire brigade.
4. Street Names. Know the name of the cross street nearest to your house. If you call an emergency number, the operator may ask for this information.
5. Creepy spots: Steer clear of places such as alleys, empty buildings, or lonely lots that make you feel uncomfortable.
6. If you live in an apartment building, elevators or staircases may make you feel uneasy too. Wait for someone you trust before you go up or down.
7. Pay phone. If you're locked out, knowing where to make a call means that you're one step closer to getting help.
8. Friendly neighbor 1#. Is there a trusted neighbor home during the day? Friendly neighbor #2. Have a backup person to turn to for help, just in case the person you're looking for isn't at home.
9. When are most people out and walking about during the day and at night?
10. What types of businesses are accessible in your area?
11. How late are the businesses usually open until?
12. Does your area attract a lot of outside traffic or mainly residents?
13. Don't be too shy to consult your local police station to find out more about the level and occurrence of crime in your area.
Advance security systems. Just as crime, mechanism of locks and security systems have become more and more advanced over time. Visit market for options - an Investment in safety is never less. A Great deal of content is available online also.
For example. According to studies, homes with a monitored security system are more than two times less likely to be burglarized. These systems provide door sensors,
window sensors and motion sensors that will sound an alarm when a door is opened or a window is broken. If you have home security monitoring, place security signs and window decals on your property as a deterrent to a potential burglar. Install a home security system from a reputable national provider like Honeywell. There are other affordable devices available for women who want to guard against unwanted entry.
Door intercom. Many intruders will pose as salesmen in order to convince residents to open their doors, sometimes to muscle past them, or just to determine whether or not they live alone. An intercom allows you to deduce a stranger’s intentions without having to physically interact with them. A wireless panic button is also an affordable device to give you a sense of security, so you can be sure that even if someone does make it in, help is on the way.
Dead Bolt locks: Know that!
> Dead bolt locks are most secure either a 1 inch throw bolt or a heavy duty drop bolt lock
> For heavy duty security choose a pick-resistant cylinder with a protective guard plate
If allowed by your landlord. get a dog (or a cat): Having a pet around will naturally ease some of your worries when living alone. Pets can serve as ideal living companions and are often the best kind of security system to invest in-- due to their acute senses and natural instincts, your pet's reaction is sometimes the earliest sign of danger.
Doors and windows closed. Get into a habit of keeping your doors and windows locked when you are not in the process of using them. Most reported break-ins are actually walk-ins due to the relaxed attitude of the resident. A high percentage of break-ins occur during warmer weather when residents frequently go outside, so if this scenario pertains to you then consider getting a screen door and keeping it locked! This allows you access to fresh air without the risk.
After initial identification from the peephole, Door chains can be used to open a front entry door slightly to identified visitors (when in doubt) while preventing them from pushing the door open.
House Inspection. It is a good idea to have your apartment or house inspected by a police officer who can identify the areas in your home vulnerable to criminal activity. Things to keep in mind are entry points into your home as well as lighting and visibility during the day and night.
1. Get rid of key hole locks too easy to be forced open
2. Check and eliminate rotting frames
3. Metal or Wood Core doors only
4. Hinges should be located on the inside of the door
Windows - Methods for securing certain window types
1. Basement = Grilles or Bars
2. Sliding /Patio Doors= Self-Tapping Screws or Wooden Plank
Create a safe room: In case of an emergency it is important to designate ahead of time a place where you can hide out until help arrives. This room should include a telephone, a flashlight, and means for exiting, if necessary.
> Park your car/bike in at least one, if not all, of the following 3 places (well-lit area, near an elevator, high traffic area)
> Use your keys as a potential weapon by walking with them in your hand at all times
> Keep your car uncluttered and remove items from your car- it is even advised by some to leave your glove compartment open if possible so thieves won't be tempted
Fake it: Just looking like you live with other people can make you less of a target to intruders. Consider putting another name on your mailbox. Leave the TV or lights on when you’re not home. Put multiple pairs of shoes on your porch (For female, you can fool people into thinking there is a man living with you in your house if you leave a pair of men’s boots or shoes outside the front door). If you hear something suspicious outside, pretend to yell to someone in the other room, and when the doorbell unexpectedly rings, yell, “I’ll get it!” It may feel silly, but it also could deter potential intruders.
Invite people over when expecting strangers: Whether you need to have your plumbing fixed or you’re selling something online, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to invite strangers into your home at one point or another. While most service workers are trustworthy and professional, there have been crimes traced to individuals who at one point were dispatched to homes on a routine service call. To avoid this scenario, it’s best to arrange for a friend or family member to be present at the time of the visit.
Routines. Do not develop a pattern. Criminals/stalkers can pick up on your daily routines if you do them at the same time and in the same way every day. Make sure that you collect your mail at different times of the day, and try to take different routes going to and from work once in a while.
Other miscellaneous things:
1. Outside lights
2. Peephole in front door
3. List of emergency numbers by phone
4. Closed window with locks
5. First-Aid kit on shelf in bathroom
6. Flashlights on shelf in kitchen and on each floor of the house
7. Only list your last name and first initial on the directory- so that a stranger does not pretend to know you and convince another tenant to let them in and it makes it harder for a stranger to predict your gender.
8. Secure all a/c units so that they cannot be opened easily
9. Top floor occupants should always check that the roof door is locked
Staying in separate row house or villas
1. Remove all signs of wealth and opulence - expensive items should not be left in plain sight on your lawn or in view in windows.
2. DO NOT aid a burglar in breaking into your own home by leaving helpful tools around such as screwdrivers, hammers, and ladders.
3. Be mindful of blind spots and hiding places produced by your landscaping - such as overgrown shrubs and hedges.
4. Your house number should be easily visible from the street (6 inch tall lettering) and illuminated at night so that help can respond quickly to the right location
5. Light your way: Visibility is important to your safety
> Light doorways
> Porch lights
> Motion detector lights
6. Your privacy is important; however to some extent you should allow your home to be visible to neighbors and patrol cars, so that people can spot suspicious behaviors.
Thank you Murali Krishnan for giving me credits for use in promoting this information.