When out and about, remember the principles of personal safety: confidence, body language, awareness of your surroundings and trust in your instincts.
Offenders target vulnerability. You will appear more confident with positive body language, such as good posture, walking with a purpose and being aware of your surroundings. Look people in the eye to indicate that you are not intimidated. The idea is to appear 'streetwise' rather than scared or uneasy.
Carrying bags or valuables
When carrying bags or valuables:
- Hold your wallet or handbag close to you where it cannot be reached or snatched. Carry your bag on the side near the buildings, away from the road. If an item appears difficult to snatch, you reduce your risk of being targeted.
- Consider the necessity of the items in your handbag or wallet, and keep valuables to a minimum. Do not keep all of your identification in one place.
- Avoid marking your house or car keys with your name, address or car registration number.
- When visiting restaurants, cafes or theatres, avoid putting your bag or wallet on the next seat or floor, or hanging it over the back of a chair. Keep it in front of you, on the table, on your lap or between your feet.
- While grocery shopping, avoid leaving your valuables in an unattending trolley, even for a brief moment.
- If you need to leave valuables in the car, ensure that they are out of sight: lock them in the boot or glove compartment. Even a pile of loose change can entice an offender to break into your car.
Talking to strangers
If approached by someone you don't know and you choose to answer questions or give directions, try to maintain an arm's length distance. Trust your instincts - if you feel uncomfortable, be assertive and do not be afraid to say, 'no' and continue on your way.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
When using an ATM:
- Stand where you have the best view of what's going on around you while you use the machine.
- If someone is loitering around the ATM, use your body to shield the keyboard and screen to prevent them seeing your personal identification number. Consider cancelling the transaction or withdrawing less money.
- If you think someone is following you after leaving the ATM, trust your instincts. Walk confidently and be prepared to carry out a safety plan, such as moving to a busier area. You can confirm your suspicions by crossing the street or changing direction.
- Count your money where it cannot easily be seen.
- If you need to use an ATM at night, find one that is well lit and not isolated.
Lifts / Elevators
If you are waiting to board a lift and have a bad feeling about a person in or boarding the lift, wait for the next lift or take the stairs.
Maintain strong, confident body language and make brief eye contact with people to show that you are not intimidated.
If you are harrassed in a lift, you can:
- Make direct eye contact with the person harrassing you and tell them in a definite, confident tone that you are not interested and to leave you alone
- Yell or scream loudly in an angry, aggressive tone to scare off your harasser and convince them that you are not afraid (even if you are). This could also alert other passengers to what is happening and discourage the harasser, who generally will not want attention from others
- Get out at the next floor
- Do whatever else you believe will keep you safest.
Walking or jogging alone
Some strategies you may wish to consider when walking or jogging include:
- if you don't feel safe walking or jogging alone, go with a friend
- vary your time and route
- be aware of your surroundings and maintain a 'streetwise' appearance
- ensure that your body language conveys confidence; make brief eye contact with passers-by
- use well-lit roads and paths
- move in the direction that faces the traffic so a car cannot pull up behind you unnoticed
- carry some form of identification and a mobile phone
- be aware that wearing headphones while exercising will decrease your ability to stay alert to your surroundings.
If you believe you are being followed, prepare a safety plan. For example, go to the nearest populated place such as a shop or police station. You can call the police on 000 as soon as you get to a safe place.
If a car approaches you and you are threatened, back away and run in the opposite direction. if possible, make a note of the registration number and description of the car, driver and any passengers. If this is not possible, do whatever you believe will best preserve your safety.
Hitchhiking and giving lifts to strangers is dangerous and should be avoided.