COMMUNITY GROUPS and the local SAPS continued their search today for missing local Estate Agent, Anna Wintor, 48.
She was last seen when she left her office to meet a client for a viewing at Treetop Estates.
Her Husband reported her missing when she didn't return home on Monday evening. As yet, her silver BMW320 has not been found. Police believe that she probably went missing somewhere between the office and the home that she was showing. However, they have no evidence yet of what may have happened to her . . .
Although we've made-up this headline, it's surprising that we don’t see headlines like this more often, because when you think about it, the average estate agent sounds like they could be the victim in a horror movie! Going to meet a stranger in an empty house . . . .
It’s not just estate agents either. How often do women working alone put themselves into vulnerable positions on a daily basis?
They’re often meeting people that they don’t know and it’s not always in busy coffee shops with lots of people around. Then there’s the travelling between appointments, with so much that can go wrong on our roads - hijacking, taxi violence, smash & grab or vehicle collisions.
So, what can be done about it? There are many solutions can help - however, they need to be seen as part of a layered security system.
LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO BE
While this sounds obvious, how often do your colleagues in the office know exactly where you are, who you’re meeting and how long you’re going to be? Would they raise an alert if you didn’t get back in time?
There are many apps which allow you to share your location in real time, so that someone can watch over you. Are you using these app regularly and do the people you share with know what to do if something seems wrong?
IS PEPPER SPRAY ENOUGH?
”I’ve got pepper spray, so I’ll be fine” is something which we often hear. It definitely has a useful role to play in a layered approach, but is it giving you a false sense of security?
Have you tried it out? Do you know if it’s going to come out in a fine spray which can get blown away, or worse, back onto you? Or is it a jet, which must be aimed directly at your attackers eyes? This could be like trying to hit the bull’s eye on a dart board while under extreme stress. Do you know firmly you need to press the trigger? It’s not as easy as you might think! How close do you need to be for it to be effective? Are you always carrying it in your hand, even though it may send out the wrong impression to your potential client? If it’s in your handbag then it’s no use to you when you need it!
Self defense courses are very valuable, as long as they train you so that you instinctively know exactly how to react in any given real world situation. One day spent in a classroom won’t help you when there’s someone with a gun in your face, shouting at you to get out of the car. Continual practice, situational awareness and instant reactions are what are needed here.
We all carry our phones with us wherever we go, and having it in your hand will send out a completely different message to a client than walking in brandishing your pepper spray! There are many personal safety apps out there, some much better than others. If you use an app like SAFER(ww.saferapp.co.za) for example, you can simply shake your phone or discretely press the volume buttons and an alert is instantly raised. Your exact location is automatically shared with a network of thousands of armed responders, while at the same time their Control Centre is notified. There’s even a link sent to all of your nominated emergency contacts, so everyone knows that you’re in trouble. They can even see or hear what is happening to you using the phones camera, which is activated as part of the alert.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
We all seem to have an inbuilt ability to detect when something feels wrong. So often, when interviewing victims, they say that they knew it was going to happen before it did. If anything about the situation doesn’t feel right, rather cancel the appointment, change the venue or take a colleague along with you. No potential sale is worth risking your life.
The latest SAPS crime figures for 1 April to 30 June show over 5000 murders, 10 000 reported rapes and nearly 80 000 assault cases! Don’t be a statistic - stay safe.