Sunday Mornings with Rania: When Everyday Errands Make You a Prime Target
It was a normal day - Thursday, October 24, 2019 - to be exact but what took place was beyond anyone’s imagination. She had been running errands that included going to the bank and then shopping at a major department store in the Galleria. On a mission, she hopped on the escalator unaware of what was coming - within moments, she was grabbed, beaten, her Chanel purse violently ripped off her shoulder by a knife widely used to cut the strap. In the attack, she was pushed down the escalator, her eye hit, her body beaten while her back absorbed the repeated sliding of the moving stairs... The suspects got away with her purse, her wallet, her keys and everything else that had been in her possession. It was only 2 p.m. in the afternoon.
What allegedly happened in this case:
During the course of the day, the woman had gone to the bank where she withdrew cash somewhere in the Tanglewood area. She caught the eye of a man and woman who allegedly followed her into the Galleria determined to steal her purse. The attackers got her while she least expected it. Many saw the attack.
As the story was shared, comments poured in and many asked, now what?
- Recognize that no matter where you are in this city, jugging is a potential concern. It is the process of being watched at a bank, followed to your next destination and then robbed. Action steps: be vigilant when withdrawing cash; only take out what you need; and never leave your purse or cash envelopes / boxes in a car. Don’t run errands with excessive cash.
- Be public safety minded, always. No matter where you are, think about your safety. Walk with purpose, make eye contact, think of how you hold your belongings, and whether or not you appear or even really are distracted. Are your hands full with items? Are you in the heat of a conversation on the phone? It’s absolutely not wrong to live life, have your hands full and/or be on a call but do all of this in a way where you are not setting yourself up to be targeted.
- Where are you parking your car? Will be safe to go back to this spot and linger as you reload your car with bags? Are you returning after dark?
- Notice the people around you and whether or not someone is potentially following you.
- Sure, there may be security guards in stores but remember, they may not always be there to protect you. Sometimes, they are hired by vendors who rent space and are there working for their clients. They may not be watching for your safety nor run to you in the event of an issue.
- What’s on you? What are you wearing? What’s in your purse? What’s in your wallet? Do you have copies of all essential items like credit cards, insurance cards, etc.? Are you carrying around mail or important school papers for your kids? Is it possible to leave things at home (not in your car!) before you run errands?
- Think through the process. Have you ever asked yourself, if I were robbed today, what would I do? Would I fight? It’s a terrible question but think through the process. Determine what on your is worth fighting (and whether or not you should have it on you) and what on you you’d let go to save yourself. This terrible exercise serves another purpose - it takes away the shock factor if you’ve really thought through the scenario and helps you remain calm and think clearly at all times.
If you become a victim, where do you start?
- Stay calm and get to a safe area as soon as possible.
- Call police immediately.
- Do your best to remember as many details about the incident as possible including any information on the individual(s) who attacked you.
- If you’re in a store, report the incident to the store manager or security as well.
- Take pictures of your body and any injuries immediately as well as the area where you were attacked.
- Sadly, you - or someone authorized to call on your behalf - will need to start calling credit card companies to report your cards stolen cards.
It’s important that when we hear these stories, we don’t panic, get paranoid or hysterical but that we respond as a community that is growing, thriving and caring towards one another. Beyond getting involved in solutions, we need to use these cases to have conversations with our daughters, neighbors and friends as many of us get busy running errands during the holiday season. Above all else, Houston must be tough on crime, if we are not, it will absolutely affect the quality of life for all of us who call Houston home. It will take all of us working together to keep one another safe. For now, our hearts and prayers are with the victim here and best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
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