Reducing Your Victimhood

by Sharon Callan


Lt. Sharon Callan 25 years with Tucson Police Department

3 years as a gang investigator

9 years as a detective in Robbery and Adult Sexual Assault units.
Currently, night time Force Commander in charge of the patrol divisions.



Over the last 25 years, I have spoken with many victims of crimes and suspects. While there are many reasons why a particular person or residence is chosen by a suspect, a lot of these reasons can be countered with an understanding that bad guys and girls require two things: anonymity and surprise. As with a fire which requires three sides of the triangle to occur, oxygen, fuel, and a heat source, the removal of just one of those items will prevent a fire from occurring. The same, for the most part, goes for becoming the victim of a crime.

One of the easiest and best ways to counter a potential suspect from making you their latest victim is to be aware of your surroundings. This means looking around at everything and everyone that is in your area, no matter how uncomfortable this makes you feel. Most of us were raised to give privacy to others, which is what the suspects are expecting, and not look directly at anyone in the area. While at the ATM, as you are waiting for the next button to push, look around to see what other vehicles may have arrived and if someone is standing nearby. If someone is behind you, turn and acknowledge their presence. They are probably just waiting for you to finish but they could also be waiting to take the cash from your hands. By looking at them they will realize they have lost both the surprise and the anonymity necessary for their escape.

Some of us feel more comfortable in crowds thinking no one would attack with others nearby. However, think about the last time you went shopping with friends. As you were walking to your car carrying your newly purchased items, were you even aware of the car that almost hit your group as you crossed the parking lot? Or were you too engaged in talking about the items you had just purchased and how nice they were? Did you see the car slowly following, waiting for an opportune time to take someone’s purse?

The same is applicable to your neighborhood. Pay attention to the vehicles that are in the area and the people driving. If the burglar thinks someone can identify them they will probably leave that particular area.

Remember, if something seems wrong or out of place, it probably is. Trust your instincts.