We're having a crime wave... a tropical crime wave

I haven't blogged much lately - this is about 33% due to the fact that I went away last weekend and didn't have access to my email for both of it and 33% due to the fact that I just got My First Internet but I also got TV and haven't hooked up the wireless router yet. As I must now spend all of my time glued to American Idol and Beauty and the Geek, that doesn't leave much time for being glued to the computer in the office.

The other 34% is that I keep meaning to blog something but I can't get it out. Sometimes a post gets stuck in the srah blogworks and clogs up the whole system. I've been watching this develop for more than a week now and I don't really know what to say about it. I keep starting to write posts and then scrapping what I wrote and starting over.

Early in the morning of Monday, January 9th (the first day back to school for students at The University I Work At), a student was tied up, robbed and raped in her off-campus residence. This scared me a lot and made me double- and triple-check that my doors were locked whenever I was at home. Because it was me, I also did plenty of looking under the bed and in closets when I came home, even though the doors were still locked. It apparently didn't scare everyone, as a TV news report that night showed a houseful of seven female students announcing that the rape wasn't going to make them start locking their doors or even getting keys made so that they could lock their doors.

Believe it or not, announcing to the entire area served by Cincinnati's television station that no one in the Town I Live In locks their doors does not seem to have been the brightest idea. Whether or not it was related to that news story, a male student awoke two days after the rape to find a man with a gun in his room. Two days after that a TUIWA student was abducted. Then this past Sunday night, a student reported an intruder trying to force his way into her apartment.

To give you an idea of the situation here, the university's police keep records of Crime Alerts, which they send out to the campus when a serious crime has been committed. For this academic year (staring July 1, 2005), Crime Alert #1 happened on August 22nd. Crime Alerts #2-5 all happened within less than a week of each other, between January 9-15. That's a lot of crime in a short time, especially for a university that had seen one mugging in the previous six months.

I don't really have reason to be scared. I have reason to be on my guard, of course, but one should always be on one's guard. But for the most part, I haven't been putting myself into the situations that the victims in these crimes have done. The rape and burglary both took place in houses with unlocked doors and the rumors about town are that the abducted student was so drunk that he accepted the offer of a ride home from strangers... which turned into a ride to Indiana and a beating. I lock my doors and I don't get drunk, but I still get nervous about break-ins... or about what I would do if the doorbell rang.

There was a knock in the door earlier this week. Usually the only person who comes to my door is the UPS man, and I usually know that he's coming because I missed him earlier in the day. So when I heard the knock, my adrenaline started flowing and I opened the door a crack. It turned out to be my next-door neighbor, who had been locked out of her apartment, but I grabbed my cell phone before answering the door, just to be safe.

I don't know. There's no point to this post except to catch you up on what's going on in my life and my constant state of... nervousness, if not fear. Oh, and to fill up a bunch of this empty page.

srah - Friday, 20 January 2006 - 11:42 AM
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Comments (21)

gravatar Aunt Pat - January 20, 2006 - 12:35 PM -

Don't you have a peephole in your door? Or are you just too short to see out of it? (That's my problem.) Don't ever open your door, even just a crack, if you don't know who it is. You can never be too careful!

gravatar katie - January 20, 2006 - 12:47 PM -

Heh. What's the point of grabbing your cell phone - if it's a bad guy you'll never have time to dial in time. No no. Grab the phone, dial 911, and keep your finger over the 'send' button.

Actually, don't. Silly. Relax. Just put some banana peels on those rickety stairs of yours outside.

Just be sure to lock your car door the minute you get in. That's the biggest advice that people around here have given me, besides common sense like not walking around in the dark.

gravatar Tony - January 20, 2006 - 2:40 PM -

I never knew there was so much action down there. See what happens when your hockey team does well, people start going nuts! I hear that rides to Indiana can feel like beatings themselves, depending on where you go.

You need an aluminum bat, I tell ya. Put it next to/under the bed. Also don't sleep in the nude, in case shit goes down at night (you might have heard that one from me before). The corollary to that is if you think that would scare them...as in my case...then you're free to be nocturnal in the buff since it would give you a tactical advantage.

As for outdoors protection, although there's not much that's a match for a gun (unless you want to pack heat yourself), putting the largest key between your middle and index finger would make a nice eye gouger. Technically, you can't shoot what you can't see.

Take Howie down there! He'd bite the living daylights out of anyone who came near your apartment. On second thought, he'd also bite you...so that might not be so good. I have visions of him befriending the intruder and going home with him. But seriously, that's why I favor dogs as pets - medium to larger ones mind you, not poodles (which are about as effective as cats in this situation - maybe pee on the robber's leg?). Dogs make lots of noise, which is effective when you are at home or arriving home to know whether someone is trying to/has broken into your place. Of course, this would be much easier to do if your place allowed pets (mine doesn't)...but plans are in the works to have a dog in my eventual mansion.

gravatar srah - January 20, 2006 - 3:43 PM -

My place does allow pets (for an additional monthly fee) but I spend so much time driving up and down from Ann Arbor that it wouldn't be fair to him.

Plus, I know I have no social life, but I still feel like hanging out with him in the evenings after work isn't a good way to get a doggle used to life in a new home. I don't know how people do it. Do dogs just adjust quickly? I would feel bad, "Hi, I rescued you from the Humane Society! You live here now! But I'm going to work! Bye!"

gravatar Amy - January 20, 2006 - 3:55 PM -

Anytime I lived alone an unexpected knock on the door scared me to death. Sometimes I would just stay really still and hope whoever it was went away.

The worst thing though was last year when I was in Texas and working nights. I was home sleeping during the day when I heard noise at my door.. clanging and banging etc. I bolted out of bed, heart racing, to find someone actually removing the door knob from outside of the door. My first thought was that I was getting robbed while at home.

It turned out it was the apartment maintenance guy who needed to check something because the people below me were getting water dripping from the ceiling. You'd think they'd at least call first to see if I was there, (or even knock) before taking the knob off the door.

gravatar Aunt Pam - January 20, 2006 - 5:57 PM -

Please don't laugh this thought off . . . take a personal safety class. As a massage therapist, being alone with a stranger in the buff, with only a sheet between you and him is, um, well, a bit risky and can be unnerving. After a bunch of my massage buddies and I had gotten together and shared our "creepy, scary, pervert" stories, we decided to be pro-active and do something about it. We hired a personal safety instructor who was willing to not only teach us some personal safety tactics, but let us run scenarios utilizing a massage table. And, size, weight, and height have little to nothing to do with your ability to thwart an attacker & defend yourself. It's all body mechanics & physics combined with street smarts. Don't let your fear immobilize you . . . let it prompt you to add some confidence. Added Bonus: You'll people and won't be home alone! :)

gravatar jamelah - January 20, 2006 - 6:08 PM -

I think you need to buy a ninja sword (yes, that's a technical term).

gravatar Not your mom - January 20, 2006 - 6:15 PM -

I agree that you should find out who is on the other side of the door before opening it.

A dog is not a good idea for you with your life style. Dogs like to be near their person. Your new couch would be chewed to bits in no time after leaving the dog at home.

I keep a wooden bat next to my bed, but I have my doubts that I would be able to use it. It just makes me feel better.

Before you jump in your car and lock the doors, be sure to look in the back to make sure no one is crouching down in the back seat!

I think the self defense or personal protection class would be a good idea. Most colleges and YMCA type places offer them. Being small it is easy to be afraid. If you have confidence that you can handle a bad situation then you won't be so nervous all the time.

gravatar plantsnbooks - January 20, 2006 - 8:25 PM -

you should just move to dc with me, where there is no crime at all!

gravatar Cari - January 21, 2006 - 2:23 AM -

I'm dumb...I commented on the wrong post =(. See my comments for Unconscious mutterings!

gravatar Sarah. - January 21, 2006 - 8:36 AM -

You can buy really cheap door alarms that can make you feel better at night when you're by yourself. And you can get pepper spray at most discount stores for like $8.

I took a personal safety class thingy at school once. The tips I remember go something like:

- Don't park next to big vans or SUVs, it's hard to see what's in them and behind them.

- Don't try to help strangers by yourself. If you see someone (an old lady, a guy with a crutch) struggling, offer to call for help for them (on your cell phone, or if you're at a store or something, get an employee) and stay very clear physically.

- Don't talk yourself into doing things because you afraid you're just being paranoid. If you feel unsafe, go with your gut. You're less likely to really regret it.

- If somebody does approach you, give them what they want. Your purse or laptop or whatever isn't as important as your life.

- If somebody tries to kidnap you, scream as loud as you can. Scream anything that gets attention, not just "help." "Help" will make a lot of people run the other way because they don't want to "get involved." "FIRE!" is usually more effective at attracting help.

- In an attempted kidnapping, always try to run. Even if they have a weapon. The chances of a nervous would-be kidnapper getting a fatal shot on a moving target are much preferable to letting them gain control of your body. Even a wounded person can run, and gun shots often attract attention. Criminals don't like difficult targets.

- Make yourself a difficult target. Try to walk in groups; try not to be alone, especially at night. Stay in well-lit areas. Check for feet and shadows whenever you're approaching your vehicle; always look in the backseat of your car before you get in. Lock the doors as soon as you're inside. Walk with your keys in your hands; that way you're not fussing trying to find them at the side of your car, and they make a decent weapon if somebody were to attack you.

- Walk upright, confident posture. Talking on cell phones is not a protection; it communicates to criminals that you're distracted and therefore an easier target.

- Elbows are great weapons. You can hit somebody with them HARD and it's very unlikely that you'll break your elbow like you might your fist. If you were thrown into the back of a car, you can use your elbows to bust out the tail lights on the vehicle. Your arms hanging out and waving will definitely attract other driver's attention and they might call the police.


That said, don't worry too much. Life in small-town Ohio isn't really interesting enough to use many of those tips often.

gravatar Aunt Pam - January 21, 2006 - 10:51 AM -

All excellent safety tips, but I do want Srah to know that in a personal safety class you will learn defensive moves. You'll learn how to use a set of car keys as a weapon, how to immobilize your attacker so you can get free, and ways to hurt them. Of course after learning the moves, you must practice them!

gravatar Mark - January 21, 2006 - 1:59 PM -

The lunatics who told the world that they were keeping their doors unlocked ought to be put away for their own protection. That's how Ted Bundy got into the Florida Chi Omega house.

I am happy to have a dog. John Walsh of America's Most Wanted claims dogs keep away criminals more than any other home security system or weapons.

gravatar Tony - January 21, 2006 - 2:01 PM -

Yeah, you can practice by kicking apete in the groin and gouging his eyes out. :-D

gravatar Allison - January 22, 2006 - 4:24 PM -

Just use common sense. There is such a thing as random crime that no one can prepare for, but I've found that common sense helps a lot. Like not telling a mid-sized city that you don't lock your doors is not common sense. Accepting a ride from strangers - not common sense. Buying pepper spray - common sense.

gravatar Sarah - January 23, 2006 - 12:53 AM -

Holy crap. Clicked on the link to the article, and having seen the campus/town where you work, I'm totally shocked this happened there.

Take care of yourself, lady.

And remember...best defense--grab low and twist hard.

gravatar Smuj - January 23, 2006 - 8:22 AM -

You can find cheap-o window alarms like these at your local hardware store. Look for one that has both "chime" and "alarm" modes. If it doesn't scare away an intruder, it will at least let you know they're coming.

gravatar jday - January 23, 2006 - 2:12 PM -

I must say, Ridgey's have the face of a weiner dog, but they are bigger (scarier? they are lovers in general, but might be big enough to scare someone off). They are *lazy* dogs that love to lie around all day. They do love company, but mine seems to be content with the hours I am home. They are *very* clean, and *VERY* smart- easy to potty train, etc. The best part, though, is there is a lovely breeder in AA, where we got ours. I feel totally safe home alone with my pups, or even walking outside after dark. Obviously, the safety class is the best advice, but sometimes it's nice to have a companion as well as self-confidence...

gravatar srah - January 23, 2006 - 2:23 PM -

Your dog could eat me whole! I ain't having it!

gravatar jday - January 23, 2006 - 4:21 PM -

Yeah, that's a plus when it comes to bad guys! It would be *your* dog, so natch (s)he wouldn't eat you!

gravatar jday - January 23, 2006 - 4:25 PM -

*very cute dogs*
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MARY & IRENE FRANCIS
3660 S MAPLE RD
ANN ARBOR, MI 48108
Phone: 734-663-6197
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