Safety tips

Safety tips from VHCA

Rule #1: Nothing in your car!

      • Don’t leave anything in your car when you park it. Certainly not guns! No electronics like iPods, GPS systems, laptops. Read our Safety Team’s reports (link on left) to find out how many cars are broken into because these things are left in them. All over Atlanta, and here too.
      • Residue from suction cups on your car windows indicate you may have a GPS, and a thief may think it’s sitting under your seat.
      • Some advice says don’t even leave papers, blankets, bags, or other innocuous items in your car, as thieves, sometimes desperate to score their next hit, might think something of value is among them.
      • Some advice goes as far as to say: leave your glovebox empty and open

Other tips

Be aware when driving home and parking
Be alert and aware of our surroundings, especially when parking on our streets, or in your driveway too for that matter – several residents have been robbed at gunpoint when parking. If, as you are parking, and have a gut feeling that all is not well, do not take the chance of exiting, but pull back out on the street, make a 911 report of what you have observed and drive around the block a couple of times before coming back to see if the coast is now clear for a safe exit to your destination.

Know Your Vehicle’s License Plate Number
In his report made at the 10/4 VHCA meeting, our Lt. Schierbaum stressed the importance of knowing your license plate number so you can quickly and accurately make a police theft report either of the vehicle itself or of the plate. If you are “memory-challenged”, have this information written down in several places for easy recall. He stated that investigations are often hampered and slowed down, simply because victims cannot quickly furnish this vital information. It’s also a good idea to do the same with the vehicle’s VIN.

Get double-key locks
If you do not have double-key locks on your doors – consider changing them very soon. Thieves can break your back-door window and reach in to open it.

If you have a burned-out street light
Report it at

Thwart package thieves – get packages delivered to a local merchant

Click to view map

Thieves operate in our area who follow the UPS and FedEx trucks, stealing packages off your porch. You can prevent any chance of this happening by getting your package delivered to one of a number of local businesses, who will hold it for you and contact you when it’s in.

Participating merchants (click on map to view locations) are:

  • Intown Hardware
  • City Storage
  • Urban Body
  • Highland Wine & Crystal

Before sending a package in care of them, stop by the merchant to sign up.

Advice from APD – how to behave in case of getting mugged

In a Robbery Confrontation: Never resist. Throw everything on the ground and run the opposite way. This includes vehicle keys and cell phones.

Dummy Wallet: Keep a “dummy” wallet, purchased from the dollar store, smaller and compact, on your person with at least $10 or even $20 worth of $1 bills inside the wallet. $1 bills make it appear to be more money on a quick glance. Place several business cards and a fake credit or insurance card, an AAA or fake AARP rubber card inside. Any of the spam credit cards that come in the mail will do. Those cards look like the “real thing”, until you look very closely. Then, if approached, you throw down the dummy wallet, and run away in the opposite direction.

Don’t resist: Women who have been a victim of robbery have reported to Officers on how they have resisted, or initially resisted, demands to give up their purse. The least confrontation, conversation and time spent in front of a would-be robber or assailant, the better. Throw the purse on the ground, don’t talk, and run.

Don’t take a lot with you: I teach women who walk alone, day or night, or when shopping, out with friends, etc., to not carry much of anything in their purse at all, and to never carry bills or any other personal information. Do not walk with headphones on. Never leave keys to your home or vehicle in a handbag or purse. Try not to have your driver’s license inside of a billfold or wallet. Don’t carry a purse at all, when possible.

Rent a P.O. Box: Everyone should consider renting a PO Box to receive mail. Box number can also be used as an address for your, State Driver’s License instead of your actual home address.   Never carry your U.S. Social Security Card with you, at any time

Tracking programs for computers and cellphones: We encourage citizens to purchase a tracker on their laptops and iPhones.

Pepper Spray: Carrying pepper spray or a concealed weapon with a permit is a personal decision, but having either inside a purse or backpack is discouraged, as time is a major factor on a face to face confrontation. Either can also be used on the victim. Consider taking a self-defense course to learn how to use these safely. If you do decide on pepper spray, make sure not to spray yourself, and carry it in your hand when walking alone or at night.

Scream: Should you be confronted, screaming loudly is encouraged, and screaming “fire” does get the attention of others. Victims often become so scared they forget to scream. Screaming may bring a witness to a window or door, or to your aid. They may be able to see a person running away, or a vehicle tag number or description, and a direction of travel. Do not argue or become combative. Try to comply with demands.

Never leave the scene with the confronter, if it can be avoided. Do not get into a vehicle. Victims can fake being sick, throw-up, fake a seizure, or even a heart attack. Try to use bodily fluids to wet yourself or create a foul smell. Roll around on the ground if you cannot escape. If you are placed into a vehicle, try to leave something behind: a piece of clothing, chewing gum (spit it out), a lipstick, watch, or kick off a shoe.

Try to memorize a vehicle license tag number by using names and ages of family or friends, not by Military/Alpha, unless you have been trained to use this method.

If you think you are being followed by vehicle, never go home or to a friend’s home. Go the nearest place of safety; A Fire or Police Station, A 24 hour Gas Station, Drive Down The Middle Of A Busy Street, Go to a Fast Food Restaurant, and wherever you are, blow your car horn without stopping, over and over again. Call 911, to get help on the way.

The APD Crime Stoppers Unit is confidential. If someone has information, a tip on crime, or they want to report something of interest, they may not come forward, if they are scared, and they may not want to get involved. If they do make that call, they do not have to give any more information than they feel comfortable in giving, and they may even be eligible for a reward.

Yours For A Safer Atlanta,

Senior Inspector Christina Walker, Atlanta Police COPS Unit Zone 6, 404-371-5002


Even more tips from Poncey Highland’s safety site

  • Break down the boxes for new appliances, especially televisions, instead of leaving them on the curb… a news plasma box on the curb in front of the house is an advertisement for a thief looking for a house to hit.
  • Don’t hire day laborers. it may seem charitable and convenient to pick up a couple people at home Depot to rake your yard, or to hire someone going door to door looking for work to clean out a garage, but in many documented cases these jobs are just a front to scope out your house, how to break in, and your patterns. the neighborhood also does not need to encourage non residents from soliciting.
  • Make sure your house numbers are visible from the street AND visible at night. If the pizza guy can’t find your house neither can the police or eMts.
  • Know your neighbors. Let them know when you are going to be out of town so they can be on the lookout for suspicious activity at your residence.
  • Keep up the appearance of your property. unmoved lawns, old newspapers, herbie-kerbies that have not been returned are all signs to a potential burglar that you are not home. if you are not going to be there then work out a deal with a neighbor or stop your mail by filling out a simple form from the post office… available in per- son or online, and putting it in your mailbox.
  • Make sure someone has your current phone numbers so you can be reached. if you have an alarm, make sure the alarm company has your current contact info. atlanta police have reported not being able to keep persons of interest more than overnight because they could not locate victims to identify property.