Capt. Charles Borchers, director of the Community Relations Division of the Sheriff’s Office, told a conference on Stalking Awareness and avoiding becoming a crime victim that it’s always best to follow their common sense instincts.
“There is sometimes a little voice in your head that tells you not to do something or don’t go to a certain place because it may be dangerous,’’ Borchers told a conference co-hosted Jan. 18 by the St. Bernard Battered Women’s Shelter and the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children.
“When I have listened to that little voice I have stayed out of trouble,’’ Borchers said.
It was one of many common sense ideas for safety that Borchers spoke about.
Borchers, who each December gives a Sheriff’s Office class called “Refuse to be a Victim,” gave advice on what type locks, lighting timers and alarms to use at homes and businesses.
He recommends double cylinder deadbolt locks and the use of heavy screws in door frames to keep a door from being easily kicked in. He also likes peepholes on residential doors, with wide-angle views to see who is outside bearby. He also recommends strong residential door chains.
Another common sense idea, Borchers said, comes in if you are driving alone and the vehicle develops problems forcing you to pull off the road. You should have a cell phone to call someone for help, then move over to the passenger seat to wait for it.
“This creates the impression someone is with you and may be right back,’’ Borchers said. “It creates some doubt’’ in the mind of a passer-by who may be tempted to hassle you or do worse, he said.
Also, people often walk while talking on cell phones or carrying packages and giving little thought to whether they are vulnerable, he said. You should walk with a purpose and be aware of your surroundings.
If leaving a business at night it’s a good idea to give a quick walk around your vehicle, checking through windows at the front and back seats before getting in. It could save you from getting in and finding someone waiting to rob you, he said.
At homes, stick-on alarms on windows can create a very loud noise if someone tries to get in, alerting you or, if you aren’t home, alerting neighbors who may call the Sheriff’s Office.
Would-be burglars or thieves don’t want noise, light or anything that slows them down such as dogs or locked gates, Borchers said. “They will usually go somewhere else.’’
Borchers can be reached at (504) 278-7628 for information on all free classes the Sheriff’s Office holds for the public.
Gail Gowland, head of the St. Bernard Battered Women’s Shelter in Chalmette, said the aim of the one-day conference was to “bring awareness about the problem of stalking and technology used today by people to stalk victims,’’ as well as to give tips to stay safe from crime in general.
Stalking often grows out of domestic cases, Gowland said, and women living at the Battered Women’s Shelter have sometimes been victims.
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