My wife and I live in Philadelphia on the “green line” between mostly-prosperous Center City and mostly-wasteland North Philadelphia. People are very aware of crime around here, as you might imagine, and many people have taken numerous steps to avoid becoming victims. That being said, I am still surprised on a nearly daily basis how unprepared and unaware some people are. (I’m a Police Sergeant, so I see many people who have been caught off guard by criminals. And that’s a very important first tip: If the criminal cannot catch you off guard and unprepared, he’s most likely going to pick a different victim. But that doesn’t account for intoxicated/drugged criminals, very inexperienced criminals, and professional criminals.)
A middle-aged woman who is our neighbor lived alone in a three-story rowhouse one block away from us. At about 10:00 pm one night, she was reading in bed in her second-floor front bedroom. Suddenly, there was a strange man she had never seen before standing in the doorway of her bedroom demanding money. Scared half to death, she pointed out her purse on her dresser. He went through it, took all her money and fled out the second floor rear bedroom window through which he had entered. Responding police were unable to find the perpetrator. Crime is an ever-present threat around here, yet this long-time resident was totally caught off guard. Even more amazing to me was how easy it would’ve been for her to have prevented this whole unnerving incident. She had a burglar alarm system, but she hadn’t armed it, even though she was going to sleep in a few minutes. She also left her rear second floor window unlocked, which enabled the burglar to climb in without making any noise after using her neighbor’s rear second floor deck to access it.