This post has a bit of a local (Maryland) flavor to it, but the tips are sound and some resources I list below are national resources. 

Use common sense and take some simple steps to significantly lower your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime. Here are some tips I got from a person I spoke with within the Montgomery County Police Department.

I’m just going to outline a few basics in bullet points. These are by no means exhaustive, but just some basic suggestions for personal safety:

  1. Locks your doors and windows.
  2. Lock your car doors, both when you get in and when you get out. Don’t leave valuables in plain view.
  3. Be sure you have a cell phone with you that is charged. Many people already know this, but even a cell phone without a service contract can dial 911.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. For example, before you get out of your car to go into your home or apartment, look around you. If something doesn’t seem right, wait, drive away, call someone to meet you, ask someone inside to watch for you coming in, etc.
  5. Keep your purse/wallet/backpack in your control at all times. For example, don’t leave it in your shopping cart and walk away. Carry only what you absolutely need.
  6. If you walk/run at night, go with a friend. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are expected to return.
  7. Know who belongs and who doesn’t in your neighborhood. If you see something suspicious, call the police right away.
  8. This is probably the most important one: Listen to your intuition – if a situation or person seems creepy, get away.

There are any number of folks out there who teach self-defense. Usually self defense courses are offered by people who teach martial arts.

There is also an organization called RADS: Rape Aggression Defense Systems that teaches this sort of thing. They list an instructor at Montgomery College if you look under Maryland on the program locator.

The person I spoke with recommended a book titled "Gift of Fear" by Gavin deBecker. You can get a copy for under $10 here

National Crime Prevention Council – website has lots of downloadable brochures and information on crime prevention -

National Center for Victims of Crime – although this is for people already victimized, They wanted to pass on this link because they are an excellent resource, especially their “Get Help” series:

Same goes for the Office for Victims of Crime, Dept of Justice:

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