Personal Safety

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"What if..." Scroll down and learn how to reduce your chances of ending up in a violent encounter while you're out living your life.
Maintaining Your Personal Boundaries
For any crime to take place, a criminal must have the desire to commit the crime, the ability to make it happen, and finally, opportunity. When it comes to maintaining your personal safety, you can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim by removing the element of opportunity.
  • Phones, headphones and other electronics can easily distract us from what is going on around us. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, maintain an alert mindset, and save your headphones for the gym.
  • Never get into a vehicle with a stranger or someone you don’t trust.
  • Communicate with trusted friends, relatives, or coworkers about your whereabouts.
  • Even if you find yourself running late to class or work, skip the shortcut through the dark alleyway. Instead, stick to heavily populated and well lit areas when walking to your destination.
  • Always walk briskly when you are out and about. Keep your head up and your shoulders back to exude confidence.
  • When approaching your vehicle, perform a visual scan around, beneath and in it. Once the coast is clear, enter your vehicle and immediately lock all doors before doing anything else.
  • Park only in well lit locations and avoid parking near shrubs or dark spots where someone could hide. When possible, park in a lot with an attendant or in a well populated area.
  • Avoid unsolicited offers for help. If someone points out damage to your vehicle, take it to a reputable repair shop at your convenience to assess the damage instead of going with the person who offers to fix it on the spot.
  • Be conscious of breakdown ploys criminals use to lure victims in. For example, a criminal might approach you and tell you he sees fluid leaking from your vehicle and can give you a ride to the nearest shop. Instead of getting in his car, stay in yours and call the Police.
  • Trust your instincts – if you feel threatened or are concerned about your safety, call 9-1-1 and return to a safe place such as a well lit, open business or Police or Fire station.

Shop Safely, All Year Round
Whether you're taking advantage of door buster deals or leisurely shopping for loved ones, follow these simple tips to stay safe while you're out helping Santa or simply updating your wardrobe.
  • Criminals expect shoppers to carry several credit cards on them in addition to recent purchases. Conceal all valuables and only carry what you need.
  • Even though it might be daylight when you enter a shopping mall or store, it could be dark when you exit. If you feel unsafe walking to your vehicle alone, do not hesitate to ask a store employee or security officer to escort you.
  • Always walk briskly when you are out and about. Keep your head up and your shoulders back to exude confidence.

Choosing the Right Self-Defense Strategy
Being prepared with carefully chosen self-defense tactics, techniques and strategies can make all the difference between life and death for the person who finds him- or herself in a violent situation. In addition to personal weapons mastered through practice in a self-defense program, personal protection devices such as tasers, keychains, pepper sprays, and firearms (just to name a few) are options for self-defense. However, it is important to consider these tips if you decide to take advantage of the use of personal protection devices.
  • No matter which device you choose, training in the use of the device is absolutely necessary before it can be used effectively and responsibly.
  • If you are close enough to an attacker to use a personal protection device, that device should act as a distraction to allow escape – not as an incapacitator. Consider learning self-defense tactics to prepare for escape, and so that should your personal protection device be taken and used against you, you are able to fight for it.
  • Learn more about self-defense classes held locally by contacting the Manassas City Police Department at 703-257-8092 or emailing the R.A.D. Coordinator.
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It's a (Safe) Date
You might not have control over whether your date picks up the check, but you can make sure you go home safely at the end of the night. Sexual assault in the dating world is a crime that affects our society and while it may not happen to you, it could. Even if you are not currently in the dating scene, take a quick glance at these simple tips and share them with someone who is. It might just save them from becoming a victim.

  • When you meet someone that you might like to see again, ask him for his phone number instead of giving yours out.
  • When meeting someone out for the first few times, consider meeting him or her at a public location instead of at home. Scheduling a group outing or double date can be a safe and fun option as well.
  • Purchase your drinks directly from a bartender or server, and never let it leave your sight, even for a second. Your safety and peace of mind are worth astronomically more than the cost of buying a drink to replace one that got left unattended.
  • When it comes to online dating, choose a site that has privacy policies in place for its members, and be cautious about how much you reveal about yourself. Never agree to give or loan money to someone you meet on an online dating site or chat room. Scam artists and financial predators use these sites to look for lonely targets.

Safe Travels All Year Round
What better way to escape the rat race than to book a road trip or a cruise to a Caribbean island? Whatever your travel plans entail, keep yourself, your loved ones, and your belongings back home safe by following these simple steps.
  • Don’t broadcast your plans to others, especially if you are travelling alone. Communicate with trusted friends, family and coworkers about where you’ll be staying in case of an emergency and check back in with them to let them know you’re safe.
  • Do research about local crime statistics and customs before arriving at your destination. If your travels take you out of the country, consider taking advantage of tools such as the U.S. Department of State's STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) for information and updates on crime and other travel alerts. Visit the U.S. Department of State online for more information.
  • While you're traveling and when you arrive at your destination, try not to come off too much as a tourist. Walk with a purpose and confidence, and conceal your personal belongings.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area, any rental vehicles you will be using, your accommodations, the telephone system, and useful language in advance. How would you ask others for help or the Police in French?
  • When returning home, be cautious. If you see anything out of the ordinary, call the Police (703-257-8000) and let them investigate.
US Dept of State - Travel



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Know Your Boundaries with the Help of VINE
VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) allows survivors of crime to obtain timely and reliable information about criminal cases and offender status 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To use VINE and begin receiving real-time updates by a method of your choosing (phone, email, etc), search and register for an offender by visiting VINE online or by calling 1-800-467-4943 (TTY: 1-800-847-1298).

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US Dept of State - Travel Smart Traveler with App VINE