Unfortunately, violent crimes occur every day all across the United States. If you are the victim of a violent crime you are likely scared, confused, and worried about further violence from the assailant if the assailant remains at large. These fears are often increased if the identity of the assailant is unknown. Of course, you should report the crime to law enforcement immediately. After that, there are some additional steps you should take to decrease the chance of a repeat attack.
A violent crime can occur anywhere, to anyone, at any time. Essentially, any crime committed with the use of force or the threat of force is a violent crime. Sexual assaults are a common violent crime along with carjacking, robbery, and assault. Sometimes violent crimes are committed by known assailants; however, violent crimes are frequently crimes of opportunity, committed against a victim unknown to the perpetrator. Understandably, the victim often lives in fear that the assailant will find the victim and commit violence again as reprisal for reporting the crime or simply because the perpetrator can attack again. Protecting yourself as the victim of a violent crime when the assailant is unknown can be difficult; however, the following steps may help:
- Move or stay with friends. If the assailant took your purse, wallet, or otherwise has reason to know where you live, don’t stay there if you have another option.
- Change locks. If you do have to remain in your home, change the locks immediately.
- Install and alarm system. Even the most basic alarm system can scare of an intruder and/or contact the police if the alarm goes off.
- Buy a dog. Dogs are often the best, and cheapest, home protection system. Be aware, however, that certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, are not covered by most homeowner insurance policies.
- Do not speak to the press. An assailant may read the news reports of the attack looking for identifying information about you. Don’t give him/her any by speaking to the press.
- Do not post on social media. The same applies to social media. Discussing the crime on a public forum could lead the perpetrator straight to you.
- Close accounts. If the assailant took your purse or wallet, be sure to close all financial accounts and any other accounts that could be accessed or that could lead to discovering where you live or work.
- Notify your employer of the situation. You do not have to go into detail, but your employer should know to be aware in the event someone comes around asking about you.
Kevin J. Mahoney is a Cambridge trial lawyer and a former Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney.