No Offense

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As anyone can see (or read, or experience), crime is up in Brooklyn, and in our humble opinion, it’s as much to do with the poor economy as poor judgment. Clearly no amount of advice will get you out of every bad situation, but local experts gave us tips that could stop you from being such an easy mark. Some seem obvious, yet judging from recent crime reports, they’re worth repeating.

Watch Your Stuff and Lock Your Doors
carbreak.jpgBrooklyn Paper senior reporter Mike McLaughlin learns about countless people who leave their bags unattended in restaurants or bars — only to later report them stolen. “We very rarely put it in the police blotter because it’s so pervasive and so easy to prevent,” he says. Other common crimes of opportunity he uncovers: people who are robbed because they leave their apartment doors unlocked (see “Lots of Breaks”), the windows leading to their fire escape open (see “Big Burgs”), or anything of value in their cars (see “Bad Directions”). “I would assume most people kick themselves after something like that.”

Don’t Be So Cynical
To combat the crime spike in Clinton Hill, Councilwoman Letitia James helped spearhead a public safety task force with area groups like The Society for Clinton Hill, which created an incident map that anyone can post to (here>>). Involving the neighborhood is an ingenious solution to the lack of response from the 88th Precinct — but if more people reported muggings and robberies,* the NYPD wouldn’t be able to claim that crime is down, and would be duty-bound to put more cops on the street. “People don’t report crimes because they don’t think anything will be done,” she says. “Cynicism is my greatest enemy.”

Be Alert and Don’t Flaunt Your Gizmos
iphone.jpgJames also notes that most of the muggers are “victimizing folks who are texting and playing with their camera” while walking down the street. In other words, easy, oblivious targets who can’t hear a thing because their iPod is too loud. Maybe everyone has an iPhone now, but keep it in your pocket on the street and you’re less likely to have it swiped.

Trust Your Gut
Susan Moesker, who teaches her students to trust their instincts at the Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE) in Park Slope, ignored her own advice one day. When walking past a group of teenage kids in Prospect Park, she thought to herself, “They should really be in school,” then convinced herself it was none of her business. Seconds later, they’d surrounded her and pulled their switchblades out, demanding her money. She got out of the situation unharmed, but the moral is that if a group or person strikes you as threatening or out of the ordinary, cross the street or walk away.

Yell Like Hell
yelling.jpgUse your voice — it doubles as a weapon. “When you release a yell while doing a physical technique, it makes it 15 percent stronger; that’s why people yell while breaking boards in karate,” says Moesker. Yelling will also catch a mugger off guard. That’s what yours truly did in May when a guy tried to steal my purse in Fort Greene, and the shocked expression on his face was priceless. “Attackers don’t expect resistance,” says Moesker, “especially not from women.”

(The CAE has a wealth of other useful tips, which it gives to students of its classes>>)

* We have heard about cops who try to talk you out of reporting a crime, either to keep their precinct’s stats down, or avoid the paperwork. Don’t let them.

Sent by Nicole.

Photos, from top, by Ken, Bill Koslosky, and Andrew Callander.

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