Crime Prevention for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with physical disabilities—impaired vision, hearing or mobility—face numerous physical challenges.  These challenges can make them vulnerable to would-be criminals who assume the disabled are less capable of protecting themselves.  The following recommendations may help a person with a physical disability from becoming the victim of a crime.

General Crime Prevention Tips

  • Know and avoid situations and locations that could invite crime, i.e. dark alleys, unlit parking lots, etc.
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work.
  • Know the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, restaurants or stores that are open and accessible.
  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving or waiting for public transportation.
  • Decide what you plan to do if you’re confronted, i.e., show confidence, scream, etc.
  • Consider your options in these cases and practice your responses so that you can recall them in a real situation.

Home Security Recommendations

  • Put good locks on all your exterior doors.
  • All exterior doors should be either metal or solid-core wood and should be a t least 1 3/8 inches thick.  Doors frames usually provide limited protection against a pry-bar.  Most door hinges and dead bolt lock strike plates are fastened to the door jam with ½ inch screws.  You should strengthen the security of exterior doors by replacing hinge and strike plate screws with hardened steel screws which are a minimum of 2 inches long.
  • Install through-the-door viewers at a convenient height on exterior doors.  Be sure such a viewer is at your eye level.
  • Develop a positive relationship with your neighbors.  Watchful neighbors can help protect you as well as themselves.
  • If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend pre-record a message (giving your name, address and type of disability) to use in case of emergency.  Keep the tape recorder with this message in it near the telephone.
  • Never open the door of your home to a stranger.  Always demand verification of a stranger’s identity and purpose of the visit.
  • Never tell a stranger calling on the telephone that you are alone or that your are disabled.
  • Plan an avenue of escape from each room of your residence to use in case of an emergency or a break-in.
  • Ask the Taylor Police Department to perform a free home security survey and to help identity your individual needs.

Travel Safety

  • Whenever possible, travel with someone you know.  There is safety in numbers.
  • Leave word of your plans with a family member or friend—including your ultimate destination and estimated time of arrival.
  • When waiting for a bus, train or other public transportation, wait in a centralized location near other passengers.
  • If you carry a purse, keep it close to your body, not dangling by the straps.  If you have a wallet, put it in an inside coat or fronts pants pocket.
  • If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked snugly between you and the inside of the chair.
  • Always carry your medical information, in the event of an emergency.
  • If you have a speech or hearing impairment, always carry a card of communication symbols.
  • Consider having a cellular phone.
  • If you are on public transportation and someone harasses you, make a loud noise or say, “Leave me alone.”  If that doesn’t work, hit the emergency signal on the bus or train.

Consumer Protection Recommendations

  • Con artists may prey upon people’s desires to find a miracle cure for chronic conditions or fatal diseases.  Remember:
    • If it sounds too good to be true—it probably is.
    • Don’t’ let greed or desperation override common sense.
    • Get a second opinion.
    • Be wary of high-pressure tactics, need for quick decisions, demands for cash only, or high-yield, low-risk investments.

  • Always ask for identification from all solicitors and call their agency for verification.
  • Don’t commit to purchase or charitable donations over the phone.  Ask the caller to mail the information to you so you can make an informed decision.  If you are not familiar with the company, consult the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Read and understand all contracts before you sign them.  If your sight is impaired, have someone you trust read the entire document to you.

What Else can you do?

  • Join, or help arrange, a Neighborhood Watch group.  Be sure their meetings are accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Work with the Taylor Police Department to improve responses to persons with physical disabilities.

Further Reading

Equal Opportunity Employment Commission
National Easter Seal Society
Paralyzed Veterans of America
United Cerebral Palsy Association, Inc.
U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Americans with Disabilities Act