HOUSTON — The Houston Police Department is reporting an uptick in violent crimes where thieves are staking out victims at upscale businesses, following them home or to other locations and then robbing them.
“Now that we know what’s going on, there’s got to be a new us when we go out,” said Tony Leal, president of PPI Security and retired chief of the Texas Rangers.
Although HPD said crews are focusing on areas including the Galleria, River Oaks District and Johnny Dang & Co. on Richmond, it’s important to know that these kinds of crimes can happen anywhere.
“There are thieves that follow people from Walmart and there are people that follow people from Cartier,” Leal said.
Leal has the following tips that can prevent you from becoming a target:
- Don’t shop or eat alone if you can help it.
- Ask for an escort to your car from security. On top of a safe walk to your car, it also shows anyone who may be watching that you are vigilant.
- While driving and pulling into your neighborhood, look to make sure no one is following you. If you suspect that someone is, turn down a road that isn’t yours. If they follow, turn again and don’t go home. Call 911, then continue driving until an officer is able to escort you to safety.
- If you’re going to pick up an expensive item, consider dressing down. Try not to draw attention to yourself. Also, think about hiding the shopping bag that has a fancy logo on it.
Leal also says to listen to your gut.
“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean you’re not being followed. So, don’t talk yourself into, ‘it’s just me,’” he said.