As the Crime reporter for the News on 6 for the past 12 years, I have interviewed so many victims who admit they would've avoided trouble if they'd just taken some simple precautions. Going on vacation makes us especially vulnerable because we're relaxed and thinking of fun rather than danger. These three things are most important: Use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Have a survival mindset.
Before you leave, make sure your apartment or home is secured:
- Make sure the locks on all doors and windows are in good working order. USE THEM!
- Engrave all your valuables with your last name or a code word and make a list of all serial numbers on electronic equipment.
- Never leave a key hidden outside.
- Make it look lived in; leave a radio and lights on.
- Have a neighbor or friend pick up mail, packages, and newspapers.
- Leave trip plans and an emergency phone number with a trusted neighbor or friend.
- Avoid trips that seem to be good to be true and ask about hidden fees or charges.
- Use a business or school address on your luggage, not home.
Once you get there:
- At the hotel, find the nearest exits and count how many doors away from your room they are.
- Use the all locks on your doors and don't open the door and don't allow anyone inside unless you invited or requested they be there.
- Read all the fire/escape information provided.
- Learn how to find and unlock your door in the dark.
Take care of your belongings:
- Never carry a lot of cash, use travelers' checks and record their serial numbers.
- Make a copy of all the credit cards, insurance cards, i.d. cards in your wallet (front and back).
- Ask your cell phone company if your phone works in the area you're visiting and if there's something special you need to do to make calls.
Take care of yourself:
- Ask for directions at a hotel/motel not from people on the street.
- Select your guides carefully based on hotel recommendations.
- Ask if there are any areas in town you should avoid.
- If the group plans to split up, set a meeting time and place.
- Wear shoes that you could run in easily.
While there is no way to guarantee you won't be a victim of crime, changing your mindset to be on full alert, will certainly cut down your chances! Have fun and be safe!