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Crime Prevention for People With Physical Disabilities

Crime prevention for people with physical disabilities illustration.

A physical disability—impaired vision, hearing or mobility—doesn't prevent you from being a victim of crime. Common sense actions can reduce your risk.

Look Out for Yourself

  • Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, or waiting for a bus or subway.
  • Send the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
  • Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk.
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants or stores that are open and accessible.
  • Avoid establishing predictable activity patterns. Most of us have daily routines, but never varying them may increase your vulnerability to crime.

At Home

  • Put good locks on all your doors. Police recommend deadbolt locks in conjunction with high security strike plates, but make sure you can easily use the locks you install.
  • Install peepholes on front and back doors at your eye level. This is especially important if you use a wheelchair.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Watchful neighbors who look out for you as well as themselves are a front line defense against crime.
  • If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend record a message (giving your name, address and type of disability) to use in emergencies. Keep the tape in a recorder next to your phone.
  • Ask your police department to conduct a free home security survey and to help identify your individual needs.

Before You Go on Vacation

  • Plan ahead. If you're traveling by car, get maps and plan your route. Have the car checked before you leave.
  • Leave copies of the numbers of your passport, driver's license, credit cards and traveler's checks with a close friend or relative in case you need to replace these papers.
  • Put lights and a radio on timers to create the illusion that someone is at home while you're away. Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions. Stop mail and deliveries or ask a neighbor to take them in.

Out and About

  • If possible, go with a friend.
  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through vacant lots, wooded areas, parking lots or alleys.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket. If you use a wheelchair, keep your purse or wallet tucked snugly between you and the inside of the chair.
  • If you use a knapsack, make sure it is securely shut.
  • Always carry your medical information, in case of an emergency.
  • Consider installing a cell phone or CB radio in your vehicle.

On Public Transportation

  • Use well-lighted, busy stops. Stay near other passengers.
  • Stay alert. Don't doze or daydream.
  • If someone harasses you, make a loud noise or say "Leave me alone!" If that doesn't work, hit the emergency signal on the bus or train.
  • Sit close to the driver and exit.

Don't Let a Con Artist Rip You Off

Many con artists prey on peoples' desires to find miracle cures for chronic conditions and fatal diseases. To outsmart these con artists, remember these tips:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don't let greed or desperation overcome common sense.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Be wary of high-pressure tactics, need for quick decisions, demands for cash only, or high-yield low-risk investments.

Take a Stand

  • Join, or help organize, a Neighborhood Watch group. Make sure their meetings are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • For example, do they need a sign language interpreter? Can individuals who use walkers, crutches, or wheelchairs enter the meeting place?
  • Work with local law enforcement to improve responses to all victims or witnesses of crime. Role-play how people with disabilities can handle threatening situations.
  • Work with a rehabilitation center or advocacy groups to offer a presentation to schools and other community organizations on the needs and concerns of individuals with disabilities.

For Information

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507
800-669-4000, 800-669-6820 TDD, 844-234-5122 (ASL Video Phone)

Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute (MCCPI)

National Crime Prevention Council
2614 Chapel Lake Drive, Suite B
Gambrills, Maryland 21054

141 West Jackson Boulevard, 1400A
Chicago, Illinois 60604
800-221-6827, 312-726-6200 (voice)
312-726-4258 TDD

Paralyzed Veterans of America
801 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
800-424-8200, 800-795-4327 TTY

United Cerebral Palsy
1825 K Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006

U.S. Department of Justice, Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Civil Rights Division
P.O. Box 66118
Washington, DC 20035-6118
202-514-0301 ADA Hotline
202-514-0383 TTY

The National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign is substantially funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Developed by the National Crime Prevention Council in Partnership with Motorola.

Revised June 11, 2019         


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