April 22nd, 2010

Violent crime in Seattle is one of the lowest for cities of its size.  And “Stranger Danger,” one of the most frightening types of reports in the news, is actually one of the rarest types of crimes.  With that said, there are no guarantees that you will never become a victim of violent crime.  However, there are some basic, sensible and easy to follow precautions that can lessen your chances of this type of encounter.


  • Follow your intuition.  Pay close attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger.  “Trust your Gut.”  If you feel that a situation is not right, move out of the situation.  Trusting your own instincts that a situation feels “wrong” can be the best personal safety tool you have.  Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business or ask for help based on that “funny feeling.”  You may be right.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  In social situations, be alert to places and situations that make you vulnerable.  Know who is nearby or who may be following you.
  • Walk confidently and alertly.  Avoid walking alone and using shortcuts.
  • Walk with others and stay on paths that are well lit where you can easily see and be seen.
  • Carry your valuables safely.  Don’t display items (e.g., I-pods, cash, phones), when walking to and from your destination.


  • Maintain situational awareness on the bus, train and at transit stops.
  • While waiting for public transportation, keep your back close to a wall (or pole) so that you cannot be surprised from behind.
  • Don’t use or flash valuables like IPODS on the bus or train.
  • If there is a problem on the bus or train, notify the driver and/or call 911.
  • If someone is bothering you on the bus or train, notify the driver
  • If few people are on the bus or train, sit near the driver.
  • Use the transit schedules to minimize the length of time waiting for the bus or train.
  • Keep your purse, shopping bag, backpack, packages, etc., in your lap, on your arm, or between your feet — not by themselves on an empty seat.
  • Don’t let yourself doze off on the bus or train; it can make you an easy target.
  • If you feel uneasy about getting off at your usual stop, stay on until the next stop.
  • Guard transit passes like cash or other valuables (the school is not entitled to give you a new one if your is lost or stolen).


  • Know your routes.  Notice lighting, alleys, abandoned buildings, and street people.
  • If you are being followed or you see a person or group further down the street that makes you feel uncomfortable, cross the street, walk in another direction, or ask other people walking if you may walk a short distance with them.
  • Pick out places that you consider safer, places where you can either make a stand or reassure yourself that you are not being followed (i.e., lit porches, bus stops, stores, etc.).
  • Walk near the curb and away from buildings, trees, and shrubbery, which can hide potential threats.
  • When walking to your home or apartment, carry your house keys in your hand.  Don’t stand in a doorway and fumble in your purse or pocket for your keys.  Have them ready to use.
  • Always dress so that your movements are not restricted.


  • It may seem like a good idea to tell a robber that you have no money, but this technique may backfire. It is safer to give up a few dollars. Carry a little money separate from your other funds in an accessible place.
  • If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, don’t resist.  Physical property isn’t worth getting injured or killed over.
  • If someone tries to grab you, make a scene. Scream, kick, fight . . . do what you can to get away and attract attention.


The frequent results of youth and guns are assault, injury and murder.  You can change that. 

  • If you ever see someone carrying a gun or has a gun on school campus – report it immediately.
  • If you find a gun – do not handle it.  You and the other students must stay away from it.  Report what you have seen immediately to school security, a teacher or school staff.
  • If you see a person with a gun – quickly and quietly walk the other way.  Report it immediately.  Call 9-1-1 and/or text CrimeStoppers anonymously.


  • First, know that your safety should be your number one priority.
  • Learn and practice ways of settling conflicts, disagreements and arguments in non-threatening, non-violent ways.
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Report all crimes and suspicious activities to school staff and police.



Call 9-1-1 . . .

  • When you have a police, fire or medical emergency.
  • To report a crime.
  • When there is a situation that poses an actual or potential danger to life or property.
  • When there is suspicious activity.


  • Seattle Public Schools Safe Schools Anonymous Hotline: 206-252-0510
  • Seattle Public Schools Security Office: 206-252-0707


  • If you know of a crime, call or text the information 24/7. 
  • Tipsters remain completely anonymous.
  • Here is how to text the information you have about a crime:
    • Send text to “C-R-I-M-E-S” or “2-7-4-6-3-7”
    • Begin your message by typing “T-I-P-4-8-6”
    • Type your message about the crime.
    • Press “SEND” when completed.
  • Within 15 seconds, you will receive a pin number confirming receipt of the information.
  • Be assured that tipsters remain completely anonymous and continue to remain anonymous even when receiving a pin number on your cell phone that confirms receipt of the information.
  • If your tip leads to an arrest and filing of charges, you may qualify for a reward.
  • Further picture and audio instructions on how to use the Text-a-Tip hotline are available at

This article was generously provided by Mark Solomon, Crime Prevention Coordinator of the Seattle Police Department’s South Precinct

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