You may or may not have seen the stories on G+, a player acting crazy or even physically assaulting another player. It has even happened in my city on more than one occasion. No one ever wants to find themselves in that situation, but how can you prevent it? As a police officer I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of situations that could have been avoided by a little planning ahead. Here are some things to keep in mind when you play.
Safety In Numbers
If you are playing, especially late at night, one of the best possible things you can do is play with another person or a group. It keeps the potential for confrontations to a minimum and it also means you will have another person around to call for help if something happens. Remember, there is strength in numbers.
Whenever possible you should let someone else know where you will be. It could be a family member, friend, or even another player. This is especially smart if you play a lot at night and in areas where there might be potential for trouble. GPS location sharing apps such as Glympse make letting someone know where you are easy.
You should also stick to well lit, frequently traveled or populated areas, especially if you are out alone, because visibility augments personal safety. Try to avoid dead ends and areas of darkness, which are ideal locations for crimes. It also lessens the chances the police may be called on you, which might ruin your evening. Knowing your surroundings can be difference between being the victor or victim.
It is very important to be aware of your surroundings. Look around you while you play, and make a note of anything unusual. If you do see something that sends up red flags, it is probably best not to play in the area.
Using a cell phone or tablet is automatically a distraction. Sadly it also makes you a target for theft. It’s a good idea to add a personal safety app to your phone. There are plenty out there that are easy and free to use such as Circle of 6.
Keep an eye on your personal belongings as well. If you carry a purse or backpack get one which secures with tight zippers, and keep money and other valuables tucked away. If you are robbed, just give them what they want. Your phone is replaceable, but your life isn’t.
Defense (always avoid conflict, defense like this should be a last resort)
Have your keys handy; they can make a great self defense weapon in a pinch. In addition, if you travel at night frequently, you may want to consider purchasing mace or pepper spray.
Note: Before purchasing pepper spray or especially mace, research your local laws or contact your local police department (on their NON-EMERGENCY NUMBER) for advise on what restrictions may exist. Some states or municipalities have restrictions on strength, or have licensing or permitting requirements for carrying one or both.
Many communities offer self defense classes through women’s shelters and local law enforcement, along with personal safety workshops. Taking a self defense class will greatly increase your personal safety by making you more self confident and able to protect yourself and they are also a lot of fun. Most self defense classes are low charge or free to encourage people to take them. To find a personal safety class in your area, use your favorite search engine to search for “self defense class” and your city.
While you are out playing Ingress at night, it is likely that at some point you may run into another player. If you want to meet them, it is always best to ask in Comms first. They may not feel comfortable meeting with you one on one, and that’s ok. Don’t push them.
If another player confronts you on foot and you are uncomfortable with the situation, speak slowly and calmly. Let them know you aren’t comfortable with the situation and leave the area. If they follow you, block your exit, or threaten physical violence in any way contact the police immediately.
If you are in your vehicle and a player blocks you in, you need to immediately let them know in Comms that if they do not move and let you leave you that you will contact the authorities. If they exit their vehicles and approach yours, DO NOT, under any circumstances, exit your car. Keep your windows rolled up, lock your doors, and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
If they allow you to leave and follow you, you can contact the police and drive to the nearest police or fire station for help. Most of the time this will deter others from continuing to follow you. Try to get the make, color, and license plate for the vehicle if possible so that officers can make contact with the players and let them know it is not acceptable behavior.
You are ultimately responsible for your safety while playing Ingress. Just a little bit of common sense and planning will go a long way in keeping you and others in your community out of harms way.
Be safe out there agents, it’s time to move.