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You’ve probably heard me talk about how safe it is here in Polk County.

In fact, crime is at a 48-year-low, and we work hard every day to decrease it even further.

This doesn’t mean that bad things can’t happen here, though. When we let down our guard, we can become an easy target.

We want you to be a “hard target.”

Here are some tips that you can share with your family members on how to become a “hard target” and not become the victim of a violent crime.

A robbery is defined by Florida Statutes as the forcible taking of something from someone. We most often hear about business robberies, such as banks and convenience stores. But personal robberies also fit into that category, and they include someone snatching your purse or committing a carjacking by forcibly stealing your car while you are in or near it.

The number one tip to avoid becoming the victim of a robbery is to remain alert and always aware of your surroundings.

Don’t talk on your cell phone while walking somewhere – criminals can take advantage of distracted victims. Park in well-lit places. Always lock your car when you’re sitting inside it, and when you’re pumping gas.

If a stranger approaches you, look directly at them and take a mental inventory of their physical characteristics and clothing. If you’re inside your car when someone approaches, do not roll down your window or open the door.

If you feel threatened, immediately leave the area and let them know you’re dialing 9-1-1.

Make noise—criminals don’t like attention.

And take advantage of our free programs, such as Women’s Self Defense classes.

Contact our Crime Prevention Unit for more tips like these and information about classes at 863-298-6677.

Grady Judd is the Sheriff of Polk County. Learn more about Judd and the Polk County Sheriff's Office at polksheriff.org.