HOUSTON — At least two women who work out late at night were followed home and sexually assaulted in the last six weeks. A third woman was targeted but she scared away the attacker by screaming.
Police are still looking for a man in a green Mustang who stalked the women as they were leaving Fitness Connection gyms in Pasadena and Missouri City.
Whether you're working out, shopping or running errands, there are safety tips you can follow to help lower your chances of becoming a crime victim.
- The key is prevention, according to Michelle Sacks, a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy and director of the Safe School Institute at Crime Stoppers.
- Sacks says pay attention to your surroundings no matter where you are or what time of day it is.
- Don’t be distracted by your phone.
- Always have your keys ready.
- If you carry a personal defense device, like mace or a stun gun, have it ready. It won’t do you any good otherwise.
- Look around and make eye contact with people you encounter.
- Walk with an attitude: “I’m tough and you don’t want to mess with me.”
- If you feel like something isn’t right, trust your instincts and go back inside.
- If security is available, ask for an escort to your vehicle -- especially at night.
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry or carry pricy handbags when you’re shopping, running errands or anytime you’re alone. Robbers often scope out potential victims inside, then text a description to their partner in crime waiting outside.
- If you have children with you, keep a close eye on them and teach them about stranger danger.
- If you must take a purse, consider a small, crossbody bag.
- Hide your cash, credit cards and cell phone in your front pockets, so if a thief does grab your purse, he or she won’t get away with much.
- Try to avoid being overloaded with shopping bags.
- When you leave, lock your doors and keep your windows up.
- Keep an eye out for vehicles that might be following you. If they’re still behind you when you’re close to home, drive to the nearest fire station or police station and honk your horn.
- In a robbery, give them your car, purse or anything else they want. Nothing is worth risking your life.
- If someone tries to sexually assault you or force you into their vehicle, scream and fight like hell. Do whatever you can to get away.
- Take a self-defense or RAD (Rape aggression defense) class.
- There are several safety apps available, including Safe Walk, B Safe and Noonlight. You can set a timer for how long it takes to get to your car or house. If you don’t put in a code when the time runs out, law enforcement is alerted. The VithU app lets you push your power button twice to send an SOS alert to contacts. They receive alert messages every two minutes that include your location. Other free safety apps.
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