It can happen when you’re walking down the street. It can happen at the ATM. It can happen in your own driveway.

Everyday, people just like you and me become the targets of criminals. In 2017 there were almost 350 robberies reported in Waterloo Region. That’s an increase of 23.5% over the previous year according to Statscan.

So what can we do to prevent a robbery? Where you can’t ever eliminate the risk entirely from your life, there are some actions you can take to help reduce it.

On the Street

You can get robbed anywhere. Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk when walking on the street.

  • Know where you’re going– Or at least look like you do. Walking with confidence sends the message that you’re a hard target. Criminals look for easy targets. If you look like you’re lost or not paying attention to your surroundings, then you’ve just increased your risk of being targeted.
  • Just keep walking– A mugger may ask you for the time or a cigarette to stop you so he can rob you. Give him the time from a distance or while moving. Don’t break your stride. A moving target is harder to hit.
  • Have a travel buddy– If you can, always walk with someone else, especially after dark. If you can’t, then take the shortest route to your destination. Stay in well lit areas and avoid parks and alleys.
  • Understand where robberies are most likely to occur– Be extra vigilant in the following places; Street robberies typically occur at ATM machines, around bus stations, in parking lots and garages, on the subway and subway stations, and in overcrowded areas especially during rush hour.

At Home

There are increasing incidents of muggings happening in and around the home. Criminals can rob you while you’re getting ready to go to work in your driveway, or even force their way into the home. Here are some tips to reduce the risk.

  • Be suspicious of door knockers– We all have them, people coming to the door preaching the word of God, or sales people trying to get you to sign up for something. An innocent question like ‘Is this a good time’, or ‘When would be a good time to come back’, could be a plot to discover your routine. I recommend saying “ I work from home and am working on something really important and can’t be bothered today” then close the door.
  • Don’t post your vacation plans on social media– Giving the specifics of your travel plans is like taking out an ad for the criminals which says ‘No one will be home on this date, come take our stuff’
  • Be aware in your driveway– When arriving home at night scan the sides of your home as you pull in. If strangers are walking on the sidewalk, stay in your car until they have passed by.
  • Don’t leave your car running unattended– Once again, you might as well put a sign on it that reads ‘Free Car’

You can’t completely eliminate the risk of being  robbed or mugged but you can reduce the possibility of being targeted. The biggest tip is using what’s called ‘situational awareness’, which is just being aware of your surroundings and taking appropriate actions to keep yourself and your family safe.