Staying Smart – and Safe – In Wicker Park

Ever need to get from point A to point B by foot in Chicago? Of course you do. It’s such a pedestrian city, and especially in Wicker Park when there’s so much to do within walking distance, it’s easy to do errands on foot. IMG_0265

Many of us have lived in Chicago for so long, that we take for granted the fact that we safely make this trip on a regular basis, and that we know how to handle ourselves in public. But does it ever hurt to have a refresher course on how to act and what to wear in public to make sure we’re not the victims of a crime?

IMAG0604Last month, Wicker Park Renaissance residents were treated to a special presentation all about personal safety. Our instructor was Brian Milich of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. We had a lively back and forth conversation with Brian about what to do and not do in public to keep ourselves safe. Since these apply to just about everyone no matter where we live, here’s some of the helpful tips that Brian was able to share:

  • Be alert!  Always be paying attention to your surroundings. Having your face buried in a phone-screen probably isn’t the best way to be aware of your surroundings, so put the phone away unless you absolutely need it.
  • Walk confidently, and make eye-contact with strangers. We may not want to look strangers directly in the eyes, but it is a way of letting people know, “I’m here, I know my surroundings, and I know what I’m doing.” People who want to rob you don’t want to know that you have confidence.
  • Travel with a friend or in a group if possible. It’s not always possible to walk in the buddy  system, but whenever it is, it’s a good idea. One versus two or three, or more, create odds that a perpetrator does not like.
  • If you are attacked or robbed, note as many details of the criminal as possible. This may seem like common sense, but when you give a description of your attacker to the police, it’ll be easier for them to narrow down possible suspects if they have more than “he had black hair and was a little taller than me.” Does the person have any visible scars? Is he wearing a particular type of hat? If he spoke, was there anything distinguishing about his voice?
  • Don’t flash cash or wear flashy jewelry. It’s pretty simple: if a robber can see what he’ll be getting, he’ll be more likely to go after you than someone whose possessions are less known.
  • Never leave your purse unattended, even for a moment. First of all, it’s best not to bring a purse with you if not absolutely necessary (only bring necessary items like keys and a wallet if possible). However, if you do have a purse with you, never take your eyes off of it. The best example is at the grocery store: many ladies will put the purse in the child seat of the shopping cart, and then turn their back on it as they pick an item off the shelf.  That could be just enough time for someone to come by and swipe the purse.

IMAG0606Of course, these are only a few suggestions to keep yourself safe when out in public. So many things are common sense; just remember to be aware of your surroundings, and aware of your possessions at all times.

I know there are definitely some WPR residents who will be far more aware now that they’ve had a refresher course in safety!

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