Someone asked me the other day if I do things differently after having covered crime for 16 years and interviewing so many victims, criminals and police officers. My answer is absolutely yes. I don't think I'm paranoid about crime, but, I'm certainly much more aware of what can and does happen to everyday, ordinary people.
In the past, I always kept my cell phone and keys in my purse while out running errands. But, I've interviewed too many people who , after having their purse snatched, are panicked at the thought the criminal who has their home address, also has their house keys. Plus, they can't drive home and if their phone was in their purse, they can't call for help.
I used to push my purse under the front seat or put it in the trunk when I got out at a park to ride my bike or walk. But, I've interviewed dozens of people who came back to broken glass and a missing purse. I've even seen cases where the suspect broke the window, popped the trunk latch and grabbed the purse. If it needs to go in the trunk, put it there before you ever leave the house.
I used to never hide my extra checks inside my house. But, then I talked to people who had their checks stolen by burglars and spent months, even years, trying to deal with all the bounced checks and angry creditors.
I used to keep my sentimental jewelry in the jewelry box, until meeting people who lost items that can never be replaced. They were always much more devastated about those losses than anything of monetary value that was stolen. I have creative hiding places now for things like my Grandmother's pearls.
I used to never think twice about answering seemingly innocent questions from strangers. But, I have interviewed too many people who had terrible things happen to them because someone asked them for directions or for a cigarette or which cat food is best, or how women's pants are sized. Now, I automatically think, "Why are they talking to me?" Often, it doesn't make sense when someone who works at a store is just as handy or they could get directions a few feet away inside a convenience store.
I do believe it's possible to be a kind, good-hearted, helpful citizen, but, you must think, "How can I can help, but, also be safe?" Most people don't do that. Every single victim I've interviewed has said, "Lori, I never thought it would happen to me." But, unfortunately, it does.
So, yes, being the crime reporter has changed some of my basic actions, but, it has not changed my belief that the number of good people outweighs the bad and we can still find a way to help our neighbor, while also being safe.