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Safety Tips for Persons with Disabilities


Irvine Police Department | Crime Prevention
(949) 724-7193

Disabled persons face many physical challenges which may make them vulnerable to would-be assailants who assume disabled persons are incabable of protecting themselves. A physical disability - impaired vision, hearing, or mobility does not prevent you from being a victim of crime.

If you are a disabled person, or know someone who is disabled then the following information may be helpful. Take time to read and remember these tips. You or your loved one may be able to prevent yourself or a friend from becoming a crime victim.

Common sense actions can reduce your risk. Your greatest prevention "tool" is your brain, your awareness, and your intuition.

Keep up on what is going on in your community. You can stay informed on the types of crime that are in your community by watching the news, reading local news papers and magazines, and become familiar with the Internet and the multitude of news sites provided there including the City of Irvine and the Irvine Police Department's main Internet websites. You can also receive up to the minute news of what is going on in the City of Irvine and the Irvine Police Department by clicking on the following links:


The "criminals" are looking for people, houses, cars, businesses that look like victims. Begin to observe your world through their eyes. Take an honest look and continually appraise the way you present yourself to the casual onlooker.


Identify and put those practices into effect that will minimize your chances of becoming a victim.


Decide now what you plan to do in the event you are confronted, i.e. show confidence, scream, etc.


Consider your options in these situations and practice your response often so you can recall them in a real situation.


One of our most important assets and one that we constantly deny. Start paying attention to your gut feeling - if it doesn't feel right...it isn't.





  • Always send a message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
  • Be realistic about your limitations. Know and avoid situations and locations that could invite crime (i.e. dark alleys, unlit parking lots, etc.
  • Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building, or shopping mall, driving, or waiting for public transportation.
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Locate and memorize 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 vunerability to crime.
  • If someone harasses you, make a loud noise or say in a loud commanding voice, "Leave me alone!", or "STOP!, get away from me!"
  • Think outside the boundaries. If you use an appliance as a mobility aid, consider using it as a weapon if necessary to get away.


  • Get to know your neighbors.  Watchful neighbors who look out for you as well as themselves are a frontline defense against crime.
  • Have a “silent signal” that you share with a trusted neighbor. Example: a blind half-opened every morning.  If the neighbor sees the blind closed, they know to get help.
  • Put good locks on all your doors.  Police recommend double-cylinder, deadbolt locks, 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.
  • Never open the door for a stranger.  Always ask for verification of the stranger’s identity and the purpose of the visit.  If you didn’t call for service, don’t be fooled by a “badge,” name tag, etc.  Leave the door locked and call the “visitors” company to verify their reason for being at your door.  DO NOT dial a number they offer you.  Call a number that you obtain independently through the phone directory or information.
  • Never tell a stranger at the door or by phone that you are alone or that you are disabled.
  • 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.
  • Plan an avenue of escape from each room in your residence to use in case of emergency, such as break-in or a disaster.  Pick a “Safe Place” near your residence to meet in the event of fire or earthquake. Share the information with your family and have practice drills on a regular basis so that all remember the plan.


  • If possible, go with a friend.
  • Stick to well-lit, 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 your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps.  Put your 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 backpack, make sure it is securely shut.
  • Always carry your medical information, in case of an emergency.
  • Keep your cell phone fully charged and ready for use.  Some companies offer “9-1-1” phones that do not require a monthly fee.
  • Do not burden yourself with packages or items that will impede your movement or attention.  Ask for assistance from sales staff or mall/shopping center security.


  • Whenever possible, travel with someone you know.  There is safety in numbers.
  • Leave word of your plans with family or friends – including your planned route, ultimate destination, phone number if possible, and estimated time of return.
  • Limit the amount of cash you carry.  Use a credit or debit card, keep your PIN private.
    If you have a speech or hearing impairment, always carry a card of communication symbols.
  • Always carry medical information.  Include impairment if not visible, medications, doctors’ names/numbers.
  • When using public transportation, sit as near to the driver as possible, particularly during late hours. 
    When boarding, ask the driver or conductor where the emergency buttons or lines are on the bus or train.
  • Use well-lit bus or transit stops.  Stay near other passengers.
  • Keep your handbags and packages on your lap instead of the floor or the seat next to you.
  • Stay alert.  Don’t doze or daydream!
  • Be particularly aware of your surroundings and the people around you when exiting a bus or train.


  • Always ask for identification from all solicitors and call their agency for verification.
  • Don’t commit yourself to purchases or charitable donations over the phone.  Ask the caller to mail the information to you so you can make an informed decision.  If you are not familiar with the company or organization, consult the State Department of Consumer Affairs or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Be sure to read and understand all contracts before you sign them.  If you don’t understand, don’t be pressured or embarrassed into signing.  Refuse until you can discuss it with your attorney or a friend that is knowledgeable about the subject.  If your sight is impaired, have someone you trust read the entire document to you. 
  • Beware of anyone who is offering products or services at a “once in a lifetime” offer.
    Many con artists prey on people’s 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 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.


  • Immediately call the police department, ambulance, or doctor.
  • Get help from the nearest person.
  • Call a friend or relative for support.
  • Try to be a good witness – remember as many details about the assailant as possible – clothing, hair color, identifiable marks, speech or voice, vehicle, direction of travel, weapon, etc.

If you would like more information or would like to schedule a prevention presentation on this or other related topics, contact the Irvine Police Department Crime Prevention Unit by calling 949-724-7193.