Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gas station attack highlights importance of personal safety

A Clinton Township, Michigan, woman was attacked and robbed while at a gast station, and although police arrested one of the men believed to be responsible, they are still searching for another. The incident left the woman shaken while a man who tried to come to her aid suffered a broken jaw, Detroit Local News reports.

The assault began when the woman was inside the gas station and two men grabbed money from her purse. After she threatened to call the cops if the money was not returned, one of the men came in and handed back her cash. However, as soon as she stepped outside, the attack began again. The victim said one of the men hit her in the jaw and then turned their attention to her friend.

"His jaw is broken in two spots," she told the news source. "He's in the hospital."

Police managed to arrest one of the men, Michael Corlone Williams, but are still looking for his accomplice.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, although the rate of such crime has been on the decline over the last several years, it is still at a significant level. In 2009, there were about 16.9 incidences of violent crime per 1,000 people over the age of 12 in the United States. Of that number, 2.1 per 1,000 are robbery.ies.

To prevent being a victim of a similar attack, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) suggests a number of different ways to maintain one's personal safety. For starters, the NCPC recommends that individuals should avoid making themselves a target. Specifically, one should not display cash, cell phones or any other electronics that might make one attractive to a potential thief.

In addition to not drawing attention to oneself, there are a number of common sense tactics that are helpful as well. For walkers and joggers, experts suggest only going out during the time of day when the streets aren't completely empty - this means avoiding the early morning and evening hours.

Furthermore, the NCPC advises parking in well-lit areas and reminds individuals to always have their keys out as they approach their vehicles.

One of the most popular and effective ways to additionally boost one's personal safety is through the use of pepper spray. Though many know that the device can make it difficult for an attacker to see and breathe, most may not be aware of how it works or the best ways to use it.

The key component of pepper spray is the oleoresin capsicum (OC), which is the active ingredient in most chile peppers. When it comes into contact with the eyes, throat and nose, OC can cause immediate tearing, temporary blindness and respiratory restriction. By temporarily disabling a potential attacker, pepper spray allows a victim to make a safe escape.

However, knowing how the device works is just the first step. Like any skill, using pepper spray correctly requires practice. Experts say that users should be familiar with aiming before ever having to use it in a real life situation. Where the device is carried should be considered as well. Keeping it in a location such as a keychain makes it easy to use if the need ever arises.

As a final precaution, those considering pepper spray should be familiar with their state's laws regarding the possession of the device. Some states, such as Massachusetts, require a particular license before pepper spray can be carried, and others have stringent guidelines about where pepper spray can be purchased.  

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