Security while out and about: some timely reminders

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Other News

All training is perishable and should be refreshed at least annually. As we move into the next round of holidays, this is a timely reminder. It is during this next period when auto burglaries, robberies, and residential burglaries increase.

When you leave a location, your actions should be the same. It doesn’t matter whether you’re leaving home, work, school, or a store. Try not to rush and just head directly out. Instead, take a moment, stop, and look around. Notice what is going on. Do you see something or someone that doesn’t belong? A car with someone inside and the motor idling? Someone who seems to be watching you or the area? Something that just causes you to think, “Huh, that’s odd?”

If you have that moment of thinking, “that’s odd,” you might want to alter your immediate plans. Listen to your inner voice when it tells you something is off. By doing this, you are practicing “Situational Awareness” (SA).

If someone becomes aggressive towards you, DO NOT ENGAGE WITH THEM. Try to allow them passage. If they begin to follow and challenge you, call 911. Explain to the operator what is happening, where you are, and ask them where the closest safe haven (a police or fire station) is to you. Give them as much of a description of the other vehicle and driver. If you have to come to a stop and the aggressive driver is still around you, it is imperative you leave room to escape if the driver tries to approach you. If you become a victim of a road rage attack, remain calm. The offenders in these situations usually flee the scene immediately. Call 911. Wait for help. If you are not in a safe location and can drive away, go to a public location, i.e., gas station, store parking lot, etc., and inform 911 where you are.

This advice works well if you are unfortunate enough to get a flat tire. If you are not in a safe area or are in an unfamiliar neighborhood, drive to a safe location. You can drive on the rim. Better to replace a rim and tire, than stay in an unsafe location and end up injured or worse.

How about walking? Again, pay attention to your surroundings. If you are walking in an urban environment, stay at least three feet away from buildings. Doorways and alleys are potential areas where someone can pop out. If you’re right next to the building, best case, you could likely collide with them, or worst case, become a victim. No matter where you are, maintain your SA. In a mall, a grocery store, coffee shop, be alert to what is around and always have a plan to respond to an emergency.

Know where emergency exits and restrooms are located. If you like to listen to music while out, try using only one earbud and keep the volume at a level where you can hear ambient noise.

Do not leave valuables visible from outside your vehicle. Lock them in the trunk or a rear area where windows tend to have a darker tint. NEVER LEAVE A FIREARM UNSECURED IN YOUR VEHICLE!!!

When you arrive at your destination, don’t rush in. Take a second to look inside to assess the situation. There are numerous stories of people walking right into a store during a robbery.

Once you’re finished with your business, conduct the same assessment on your way out. If you have driven to your location, have your keys out and ready. Even if you have a car that doesn’t require a key to enter, have them out. Keys can be an effective self-defense weapon, if needed, and if someone approaches you and demands your car, you are situated to toss the keys in one direction while you run in the opposite direction.

NEVER have your house keys on the same key ring as your vehicle. If someone gets your keys and they are together, they now have the keys to your house and your address somewhere in your glove box. When you get in your car, if you’re like me, it takes a minute or so before you’re ready to start the engine. So, the first thing you do is LOCK YOUR DOORS.

So, you’ve completed your errand, your work or school day is over and you’re heading home. What do you do? Practice SA. Is that car driving into your neighborhood following you or just going the same way you are? If you feel someone is following you, DO NOT DRIVE HOME. Drive to a safe location, fire department, or police/sheriff’s station. Call 911 and explain what you see. Stay on the phone with the operator. As you approach your home look around. Does it appear as you left it? If people are loitering in the area, drive on. If you are concerned enough, call the non-emergency line for your local law enforcement. If you park in a garage at your home, open the door as you approach so you’re not waiting in your driveway for the door to open. Close the garage door as soon as you’re in the garage. This will help deter an attacker from rushing into the garage while you’re vulnerable. If you park outside, take a few seconds before you get out. It is time well invested.

When you leave home, leave lights on to illuminate the perimeter. If you have an alarm, use it. Make sure all windows and doors are locked. Are expensive items visible through your windows?

SA should become a regular part of your day. No matter what you are doing or where you are, SA will help keep you safe as you are out and about.

David Brackins


Secure Community Network

To better protect the members of the Jewish community who attend area synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish agencies in Tidewater, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater with support from Tidewater Jewish Foundation, joined with the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula to partner with Secure Community Network (SCN) to enhance local security programs in 2020.

Secure Community Network, a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, has served since 2004 as the official homeland security and safety initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America. Established under the auspices of the Jewish Federations of North America (UJFT’s national umbrella agency) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, SCN works to enhance the safety and security of those within 147 Federations, the 50 largest Jewish non-profit organizations in North America and more than 300 independent Jewish communities.

Through UJFT’s partnership, SCN’s Virginia Regional Security Advisor, David Brackins, has been working with Tidewater synagogues and agencies, to address the continuous need to make Jewish gathering places more secure and enhance existing security practices.

To learn more about SCN, the partnership with UJFT, and their work in Tidewater, contact David Brackins, SCN regional security advisor, at or to learn more about the Community Security Committee, contact Robin Mancoll at