Nov 10 2010

Steps to Street Safety (SSS Advantage for Commuters)

Published by Ellen Joy Castel at 7:15 am under How To, Women Issues

Commuters take plenty of risks when they ride a jeep, a bus, the MRT, or even a cab because thieves, snatchers, ‘holdapers’, and crime syndicate groups abound the streets of the metro – especially now that Christmas is less than two months away. One can never be truly safe but fortunately, we can reduce the risks of becoming the target of those who refuse to earn in a noble way.

NEVER EVER SLEEP
This is the golden rule of commuting. Sleeping commuters are the easiest targets. When you’re asleep, someone can easily pull your wallet from your pocket or slit your bag and get your mobile phone or something. I’ve even read that there are even some syndicated groups that inject drugs to sleepy people so they would get drowsier and they can then take advantage of them after.

NEVER SHOW OFF
Okay, so you have a camera, or an iPod, or better yet – the bigger iPad. If you want to keep those, then do keep them in your bag when you are commuting. Heck, keep your mobile phones in your bag too. I learned this the hard way. Back in my student days in UP Dil, I used to go home late and I always chose to ride a jeepney to Novaliches because it was faster and cheaper.

What happened was that I did try to keep my phone in the bag but my mom kept calling because it was already late. And so, I did try to answer the phone and I was prepared for the ‘parental sermon’ but I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened. When I lifted the phone, someone from behind me (outside the jeepney which stopped for passengers) grabbed the phone quickly. I was trying to hold on to it and so he hurled his hand at me. Only then did I realize that he had a thorny bracelet and that cut my lip. When I turned and tried to look for the culprit, I wasn’t able to identify him because alas, there were plenty of people around – Divisoria style.

Anyway, let’s go back to the tip. Do not show off what you have. And, when you keep your valuable in your bag, pretend that they are not there. Do not text from inside your bag because that defeats the very purpose of keeping it there. Thieves are smart these days. If they know that you have the latest iPod touch in your bag then they will try to take the whole of your bag.

DO KEEP YOUR MONEY IN SEPARATE POCKETS, POUCHES, ETC.
Keep a third of your money in your pocket, a third in your bag, and a third in your other pocket (or even in your shoes). This way, you can be sure that if something bad happens, you will not be left with absolutely nothing.

ALWAYS BE VIGILANT
Do not be complacent. You have to stay aware, alert, and vigilant. Hold your bags tightly all the time and make sure that the zip or flap closures are securely facing you. There is no “safe” seat in a bus or a jeepney. You can get robbed even if you sit at the back (prone to snatchers) or even beside the driver (The ones who are seated near the driver always gets threatened with a gun or a knife by ‘holdapers’).

Let me tell you another story. I was riding a jeepney and I was seated somewhere in the middle. Somewhere along Gotesco Commonwealth, a huge lady who dressed like a man boarded the jeep and she didn’t sit, she just stayed at the back (’sabit’). A few seconds after, she shouted “PARA!”. I assumed that she might have forgotten something so she had to go back. To my surprise, she suddenly tried to grab and pull my bag. BUT, she failed and so she decided to just grab the gold necklace of the other girl that I was facing. Everything happened so fast. She got out of the jeepney, crossed the street- she almost got hit by the bus- and before she can reach the other end, she boarded another jeep.

And oh, buses – even the aircon buses are not that safe because more sophisticated robbers who have guns board them. The LRT and MRT are perhaps the safest but be wary still of pickpockets and those who take/switch bags in the comfort rooms.

WALK FAST, WALK WITH GROUPS, WALK IN THE LIGHT
If you walk fast, thieves will think twice before they decide to make you their target. Also, make it a point to always walk with friends. There is power in numbers and that can thwart away a thief or two. Also, ghosts and monsters don’t lurk in the dark, robbers, ‘holdapers’, and rapists do so stay in well lighted streets. If there is no other way to your house but a dark alley, always bring a flash light – a huge one.

BRING SOMETHING WHICH CAN HELP YOU DEFEND YOURSELF
Bring pepper spray (available in Ace Hardware before, I don’t know now), a stun gun, or tear gas in a bottle. If you think you can and you have the guts to street fight with street monsters then bring a butterfly knife (Balisong) or an arnis stick. If you know you can’t or you just want to stay safe, bring a whistle instead.

MAKE IT A HABIT TO LIST
When you ride a cab, make sure you text its Plate Number to your mom, dad or your boyfriend. When you ride a tricycle, take note of their TODA no. too. If you are as paranoid as I am, list down the card numbers and account numbers of your ATMs and Credit Cards in your diary. Keep a list of your SSS, TIN, or Student No. too. This list will be very useful to you if ever you lost the cards.

INVEST IN BAGS WITH ANTI THEFT FEATURES
This is actually what I am trying to do. I want to have the Pacsafe CommutaSafe 100 and so I’m joining Out of Town Blog’s contest. The Pacsafe CommutaSafe has “eXomesh® Slashguard” and a “Slashproof adjustable shoulder strap” so you won’t have to worry about getting your bag slit. And, since it has a snatchproof shoulder strap, lockable zippers, and combination locks, commuting becomes more convenient and safer for you.

I think that with a Pacsafe CommutaSafe Bag, one can sleep and not worry about their bags and laptops being snatched away from them. You can even leave your bag and lock it to a chair when you have to order food at the counter of a fastfood or a resto – or take a short trip to the comfort room – or go outside the room to get a better phone signal reception when someone’s calling you.

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