Given the state of our economy and the financial strains people are facing, as the holiday season approaches, some people may resort to any means to obtain your money and valuables.
Whether you are driving a company vehicle or your personal vehicle, carrying tools and equipment or your personal property, we all have very desirable, very ‘sellable’ items in our possession. Who doesn’t carry a cell phone, computer, or other valuable electronic device? Everyone can be at risk for robbery, assault, or worse while driving company or personal vehicles, working or shopping.
This is a reminder that everyone should be aware of their surroundings at all times. If you arrive at a location and something doesn’t seem right, if you are not comfortable getting out of your vehicle, if you believe you are being followed, or you believe you see suspicious activity, you are best served by listening to your instincts. Leave immediately and go to a location where you feel safe.
If you are caught unaware in a robbery or confrontation and are asked to give up product, money, personal items, your car … do it. As soon as you are safe, call 911 to report the incident. If you are on business, call your manager or supervisor after you call 911.
For those who carry their computers, iPods, GPS devices, purses, or other valuable items in their vehicles, get in the habit of putting those items in the trunk of the vehicle. At a minimum, place valuables under seats, in consoles or glove boxes to keep them out of sight. This includes the chargers for electronic items and the GPS holder. Charging cords and holders are positive signs to a thief that there is a high probability of a valuable inside the vehicle.
Always lock your vehicle, even at your home.
Basic Guidelines for Managing Thefts or Confrontations:
- Park vehicles in well lighted areas where there are a lot of people.
- Observe your surroundings before getting out of your car or leave a building to get into your car.
- Have your keys ready to open cars or building door locks. Don’t delay getting your keys out and ready.
- If you have some sort of protection device such as a whistle or pepper spray, have it in hand as you walk to and from buildings/cars
- If you see you are being approached or threatened, yell as loud as you can, run towards other people, if you have a whistle blow it.
- If you have been confronted, do not resist. Remain calm and follow directions.
- Do not provoke the attacker to violence or panic. If a person walks up to you, points a weapon at you and demands your money, comply with their demands.
- Do not make any sudden moves. The offender may be nervous or under the influence of drugs or alcohol and may react dangerously.
- Do not attempt to be a hero; only as a last resort should you defend yourself if you are being grabbed or accosted.
John "Jay" Gumbrecht is a Risk Control Consultant for Westfield Insurance based out of our Tampa, FL service office. Jay has over 20 years of risk management and safety experience which he uses to provide top quality service to several large Westfield policyholders.