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Violent crime spikes, but these tips will help you avoid becoming a victim

FILE: Stock image via Shutterstock

SALT LAKE CITY — Violent crime in the US surged in 2020 as the pandemic spread across the nation. But you don’t have to be a victim or a statistic if you follow the safety tips below.

How to avoid becoming a victim as violent crime rises

The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found homicide rates were 30% higher in 2020 compared to 2019.

At the end of 2020, Chicago police reported more than 750 murders, a jump of more than 50% compared with 2019. By mid-December, Los Angeles saw a 30% increase over the previous year with 322 homicides reported. New York City saw 437 homicides by Dec. 20, nearly 40% more than 2019, according to NPR.

According to the Salt Lake City Police Department:

As of December 20, 2020, the total rise in violent crime was 21% when compared to the same time period in 2019.

When compared to the five-year average, violent crime rose 9.2%.

Don’t become a victim, follow these 10 safety tips:*

  1. Unless you are expecting someone, a package or other service personnel, such as a plumber, don’t answer the door to a stranger. If a stranger asks to use your phone, do not let the person enter. Instead, offer to make the call for that individual.
  2. Tell a neighbor you trust or friend to keep an eye on your house while out of town. Your local law enforcement agencies may also add an extra patrol to your neighborhood if you advise them you will be gone.
  3. Remember, upward of  90 percent of sexual offenders are known to their victims, including relatives and friends. If you feel uncomfortable in someone’s presence, trust your feelings and leave. If necessary, don’t be afraid to be loud and make a scene. 
  4. Use security staff at work or when shopping at a mall, if you need help walking to your car, especially in poorly lit areas where an attacker might hide.
  5. Do not pick up hitchhikers or stop to aid a stranger in a stalled vehicle.
  6. If your windows can be easily accessed from the outside, avoid sleeping with them open.
  7. Have peep holes in your doors. If you do not recognize who is at your door, do not open, even with the chain on as most chain locks can be kicked in.
  8. Criminals also lurk in cyberspace, so be cautious about making personal contact
    with strangers you meet on the internet.
  9. Make sure the entrance to your house or apartment is well-lighted.
  10. And most important of all: Be observant and aware of your surroundings.

*Find personal safety-awareness recommendations here.

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