Sometime when you’re least expecting it, life hands you a lesson! This past week, our family had a harrowing life lesson that reminded us of the importance of awareness and preparation as our young son Cash and his nanny, Caitlin, had their lives threatened and a carjacking that ensued. Below are many tips and reminders that may help you be safer, avoiding potential issues in the future, and also a great reminder to learn to use and understand technologies that are available to us so we can help keep ourselves and our communities safe.
First and foremost, be observant and pay attention to your surroundings. Today, we’re often multitasking while we drive, eat, and go about our lives. With gadgets like radios, earbuds, smart phones, iPads, e-readers, video games, even DVD players in our cars, it’s easier than ever to be distracted and not fully tuned in to what is happening around us. Even without technology we can be engrossed in a good book, our own thoughts, our kid’s activities, or a conversation with another person. What really is happening around you? What people are there around you? Take note of any possible dangers such as dark areas or suspicious vehicles. Are your activities, such as leaving your car running in a driveway or parking lot, increasing your chances for a possible problem?
Secondly, know your escape route. Whether it’s inside your home, a hotel, a restaurant or other building, take note of entrances, exits, stairways, and know your options. While driving a car, are you leaving enough room between you and the car in front of you so you can easily maneuver around them, if need be? How well do you know the route to your work and around your neighborhood and the resources available to you as you drive about your community? While driving, leave yourself some space to drive away if you are in traffic. Park carefully in well-lit, populated areas.
Third, secure your home, office and car. While at home, keep your doors locked. Are you guilty of propping a door open at work? The same wisdom applies to a car, even while driving. Keep your car doors locked at all times to prevent someone from jumping in at a red light or in a parking lot. Be cautious when approached by others. Whether it’s someone knocking on your door, or someone knocking on the window of your car, you are not obligated to open it. It’s okay to talk to someone through a closed door or window.
If you do happen to be confronted by a dangerous individual do everything you can to get away from the situation and avoid being taken to a second location. Assist those with you to escape danger as well. Give the perpetrator whatever they want. No personal possession is worth your life. Vehicles can be replaced, you cannot.
While getting to safety, take note of the aggressor so you will be able to identify them. Notice everything you can about the person such as their weight, height, hair color, any scars or tattoos, facial hair, clothing, etc. Try to look for features and characteristics that cannot necessarily be changed (i.e. tattoos).
Once safe, contact authorities, giving them as much information as you can. Tools that we had purchased and activated prior to the incident actually led to the quick arrest of the perpetrator. Know what tools and apps are out there to help secure your home and cars as well as know how to use them. We had purchased a car equipped with a gps tracking service, OnStar. A quick call to OnStar (store their number in your phone!) allowed them to pinpoint the location of our car as well as turn off the engine making the vehicle useless to the carjacker.
In a last ditch effort to still profit from his crime the carjacker took the iPad that was in the car. Fortunately we had downloaded and installed the app “Find My iPad” which is handy when you can’t figure out where you left your phone or iPad, but we were able to use the app on our phone to not only locate the iPad but also direct police to the exact location of the criminal which led to a swift arrest.
Without a doubt we are glad we have invested in this technology that helped police apprehend the individual quickly and taken off the streets before he could hurt anyone. Using some simple common sense and awareness can save lives and help the authorities catch criminals. By doing our part, being aware and using tools that are at our disposal, we can help keep ourselves and our communities safe. Fortunately, due to some quick thinking on Caitlin’s part and technology, everyone is safe, and the perpetrator is now in jail.