Wichita Falls was recently listed as one of the most dangerous cities in Texas. This is a distinction no city wants to have and it means residents must take steps to reduce their chances of being victimized. Of course, the police will do everything they can but they can’t be everywhere all the time and crime can happen in a split second. While local law enforcement agencies are taking steps to reduce crime in the city, you have to be proactive as well. There are a few things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe until Wichita Falls falls off this list. Be Aware Pay attention to your surroundings. If something doesn’t look right, do your best to avoid a bad situation. Try to walk only in well-lit areas and don’t go out alone at night if you don’t have to. If you need to drive somewhere you’ve never been before, do a test run the day before to be sure you don’t get lost. These tips can help you avoid an encounter with a criminal that could result in robbery or personal injury. Consider Carrying Wichita Falls residents are now allowed to openly carry. More than 2,500 are licensed in the city, with the highest concentration of permit holders in the 76310 and 76308 zip codes. There are pros and cons of carrying a handgun in public and businesses are now allowed to ban guns in their stores. However, having a weapon could give you some peace of mind so you feel safe enough to live your life on your own terms. Lock your Car Doors Most people feel comfortable at home and you should. However, if you leave your doors unlocked, you give thieves an opportunity to take your belongings. Criminals are less likely to break a car window than they are to open an unlocked door and steal property from inside a car. Although everyone is in a hurry from time to time, try not to leave objects that look valuable in plain view inside your vehicle when it’s parked outside. It’s not wise to tempt a criminal and replacing all the items that were inside a purse or wallet can be time-consuming, if it’s even possible. Start or Join a Neighborhood Watch Group Residents need to look out for each other. Burglaries are more likely to happen during the day, when the majority of people in the neighborhood are away from home. However, in areas where there are one or more seniors or stay-at-home parents who are willing to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and contact law enforcement if they see anything, the whole neighborhood is safer. Many times, neighborhood watch signs alone are effective at deterring a certain amount of crime. Burglars want to get away with the stolen items, they don’t want to go to jail. Therefore, communities that show they care are poor targets for thieves. Install a Security System As much as they try, neighbors won’t see everything. Having a monitored security system on your home may make your house less attractive to would-be burglars. Be sure to post your signs in prominent locations so anyone who might be thinking about breaking in will know the consequences. A monitored security system with cameras will allow you to watch what’s going on in and around your own home while the security company is on hand, ready to notify police if anyone attempts to break in. The last thing a criminal wants is to be caught on camera so be sure your security system includes this feature. Security systems come in various price ranges. It’s important to research all the options out there and choose the one that makes you feel safe but doesn’t put too much stress on your budget. You might be able to save some money by installing the system yourself. However, a professional installer may be able to answer your questions about operating your system so you don’t have to spend too much time reading in order to learn how to make the most of your new security system on your own. Be sure to use a reputable monitoring company that has a proven track record and great recommendations by law enforcement as well as your neighbors in the community. Get a Dog The Wichita Falls City Ordinance allows each home to have up to four cats or dogs. When choosing a pet, consider getting one that is large enough to deter burglars but safe enough to have around your family. Be aware that owning some breeds might cause an issue for your homeowners insurance so look into that before bringing a Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman or Akita. While these dogs are sure to make a burglar wish they didn’t enter your home, owning one might cost a lot more than the price of food and supplies. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe and it is everyone’s job to make sure criminals don’t feel welcome in Wichita Falls. You have a right and a responsibility to protect yourself, your family and your property. The police are there to help you and they have been making great strides to reduce crime in the area in recent months. They’ve been holding community events to educate the public on resources available to you that can help you prevent crime in your neighborhood. Tools like Crime Stoppers and Next-door give residents an upper hand and make committing crime in Wichita Falls less attractive.