As we all know, law enforcement officers face daily dangers. And not just while they are working, but off duty as well. The idea of being followed, harassed, or even stalked at their personal homes, is a terrifying thought. While you wouldn’t think it happens often – sadly it does happen. And it seems to be a growing concern.
Recently, an officer in Selma, Alabama was stalked and harassed at his home by members of a cult that he had been investigating. Here are eight basic tips to help keep you and your family safe:
1. Don’t put your name on your mailbox or a nameplate on your house. It’s not necessary and it makes it easier for someone who might be looking for you to identify your house.
2. Don’t fill out warranty cards. Many people think that they have to fill out a warranty card, but its not necessary. Most products already come with a manufacturers warranty, so by filling out that card and sending it in, just gives ammunition to marketing companies who want to contact you to try and sell you more products.
3. Vary your routes to and from work. Don’t be predictable. This will help decrease the possibility that someone can calculate where you will be during your commute. Taking these varied routes can also help you more easily identify a vehicle that may be following you.
4. Stay alert! Easier said than done, but remember situational awareness when getting in and out of your car. Look around. Many officers tend to let their guard down, after work and drive home mindlessly. This can be dangerous. Remember to look in your rearview mirror and make note of the vehicles you’re seeing. Is there a particular car that always seems to be behind you? Is the guy in the car beside you noticeably looking at you? Is there a vehicle that takes every turn you do?
5. Don’t use your real name on paper subscriptions. Put newspaper, magazine and subscriptions that are delivered to your home under a name other than your own. Consider your spouse’s first and maiden name. You don’t want a newspaper with your name on it lying in your driveway where someone could easily pick it up and identify who lives there.
6. Secure your home. Maintain good lighting in and around your home. Secure your property with an alarm, front – rear – and side cameras, along with motion detectors at night. Don’t have any large bushes where someone could easily hide behind them lurking to attack you or a family member.
7. Be careful where you gather. If you typically hang out to talk after your shift, considering going somewhere other than the department parking lot. Consider an indoor location or a more secluded place that doesn’t draw attention to your group.
8. Shred paperwork! Seems obvious, but you really need to shred most papers that have your name, address, phone number, and other pertinent information on them. This includes billing statements and receipts. It would be too easy for a bad guy to track you down at home only be gain easy access to your trash can on the street that could hold some personal information about you.