Would you know what to do if someone tried to rob you? - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Would you know what to do if someone tried to rob you?

Deputies demonstrate what to do if you want to be a crime victim Deputies demonstrate what to do if you want to be a crime victim

The holidays can be a dangerous time with armed robberies on the increase. If it happened to you, would you know what to do?

"Thieves are always watching the people who are vulnerable," said Lt. Rafael Gonzales with the Richland County Sheriff's Dept.

Robberies have increased over the last four months in Richland County.

So how do you keep from being vulnerable to an ATM robbery, being confronted in a parking lot, or even along the street?

Sheriff's deputies say those are the most common robbery scenarios. Keeping yourself safe can be as simple as putting down the cell phone and being alert.

"Just be aware of al your surroundings," said Gonzales. "Where you're walking to and where your coming from, because you just never know what's going to happen."

 "Be alert," he said. "Know your game plan."

A plan that includes thinking about where you park, not near the bushes, or back of the lot, and never overload yourself with packages.

"Pick a well lit area and what we also like to do is not go by yourself. Go in tandems. Go with a girlfriend or a boyfriend or even your husband or a loved one," said Gonzales.

At the ATM, deputies recommend using the drive-thru instead of the walk up. They say staying in your vehicle makes it more difficult for a suspect to get to you.

If you're approached, go into what deputies call survival mode: Give the suspect what he wants, and start collecting details. Be a good eye witness.

"You're going to have to give a description of that bad guy," said Gonzales. "Were they wearing a jacket? Did they have a hat on? Were they wearing gloves? What kind of shoes? Anything like that could help us out dramatically.

Deputies say as you're doing last minute shopping, take only what you need.

"Have a certain amount, a dollar amount to spend," said Gonzales. "Don't bring your birth certificate, your social security card or any other credit cards that are in excessive, there's no need for that."

It only opens you to another crime -- identity theft. Deputies say if you notice something suspicious, don't hesitate to call.

"If you see someone just sitting in the parking lot and the car's running and they're not really doing anything, they're probably casing out the place," said Gonzales. "They're probably casing to see who comes, who goes."

You just may give them the tip they need to solving a string of robberies.

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