I recently came across an article about an African American young lady in her early 20s who was single, lived alone and was recently a victim of a robbery and aggravated assault. This incident did not happen in her home. It happened in the parking lot of a local restaurant.

The young lady was known as being intelligent, cautious and friendly. She had just left the restaurant and was walking in a well-lit parking lot. While getting into her car, she was approached at her window by another woman who seemed to have a question. This woman looked friendly enough to let down her window, so she did just that. The woman opened the young girl’s car door and immediately punched her in the face, pinned her down in her seat and continued to violently assault her in the car. The woman then took her purse out of the back seat of the car and fled the scene.

It is not only important that single women everywhere be aware of their surroundings, but it is equally important to be prepared if this frightening situation comes your way. Here are 12 police tips on how to protect yourself from robbery or assault. Like my mother always told me, “It is better to be safe than sorry.” –mckenzie harris

1.      If possible, don’t walk alone during late-night hours. Walk in groups whenever you can. There is always more safety in numbers.

2.      Let a family member or friend know your destination and your estimated time of arrival or return. That way, the police can be notified as quickly as possible if there is a problem.

3.      Stay in well-lit areas as much as possible. Avoid alleys, vacant lots, wooded areas and other shortcuts or secluded areas. These are usually not well-lit or heavily traveled. Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings.

4.      Walk confidently, directly and at a steady pace. Don’t stop to talk to strangers.

5.      Avoid carrying large sums of cash,or displaying expensive jewelry, etc., in public. If you must carry large sums, divide the cash into smaller quantities and carry in multiple places on your person (wallet, purse, side pocket, etc.)

6.      If someone tries to rob you, REPORT THE CRIME TO THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY! Try to describe the attacker accurately – sex, race, age, hair and eye color, special features, clothes.

7.      Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.

8.      Don’t go home or to your hotel if you believe someone is following you. Instead, drive to a police station, fire station or a business with visible security personnel on duty.

9.      Keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up, and ALWAYS have your car keys in hand when approaching your car.

10. Before getting in the car, check the front and back seats to be sure no one is hiding inside.

11. Wear clothing and shoes that give you freedom of movement. Don’t burden yourself with too many packages or items.

12. Self-defense measures are most effective when applied as preventive steps. These measures include running away, hiding, screaming and raising an alarm. Remember, more people will respond to someone yelling “Fire” than they will to “Help!”