Be Safe, Be Observant



Did you ever find yourself driving along, minding your own business, then suddenly you're mentally noting the demeanour, profile and license plate of someone you've just spotted driving suspiciously?

Or perhaps you've noted details of someone behaving oddly while out on one of your walks, or parked vehicles that catch your eye?

I have done this, on numerous occasions. I even recently followed a young man, who had seemingly profound special needs and who was out walking alone in the local park. He had his headphones on, watching his iPad and was happily, as it appeared to me, 'reacting' to the music as he strolled along.

Now maybe I watch far too many 'Law and Orders' and 'Criminal Minds' type TV programmes, and read way too many such-like psychological thriller books but, you never know when this information might come in handy, do you? The observations you process that might just be the necessary link to an as yet unknown crime....

But of course I usually forget the license plate number and other details, and think no more of it as time goes by.

With the exception of the young man above.  I followed him as far as I could that day as I can't climb steep hills, but I didn't approach him as I thought that might be frightening or startling (for us both) due to the headphones he was wearing. He didn't seem distressed or agitated and I thought that perhaps he was allowed to go walking alone, as an independence exercise? But I was concerned. My phone died so I couldn't phone the Gardai and I couldn't get an answer from them when I tried, multiple times, on my return home. I even tried accessing any relevant Facebook groups to see if anyone was reported missing. I've never seen him since and often wonder about him.

A recent court case that, in my opinion, resulted in a just verdict has brought all this to mind. Especially due to where this lady was last seen walking. She was spotted on that walk but not getting into the defendant's car 'at the shore' where she was directed to meet him.

And I wonder what difference it would have made had someone seen them meeting, or noted them driving past on that small country lane; where you have to  move in, almost onto the ditch, to let a car pass. Unfortunately it most likely wouldn't have saved her, but it might have caught him sooner. 

I've also been thinking about two other 'cold' cases that may or may not be linked to this man - this young girl here and this young mother here. Regardless of any connection it's such a pity that no-one noticed anything that would help catch the perpetrator(s) at those times either. And in other similar missing person cases. I'm sure people who did hear or see something 'odd' very much regret not investigating more, or phoning the Gardai 'just in case' at the time. Although hindsight, it must be said, can be very enlightening, and perpetrators can be very, very clever.

Many of us find walks to be so invigorating yet calming; we consider them opportunities to release the stresses of our day. Car drives can often be stressful, as we're all usually quite busy and under time constraints as we strive to get from A to B. On time! But maybe we need to be a little more observant and in tune with our environments as we go about our daily tasks? When we can, that is. We can't always be 'on alert' and must be allowed our 'switch off' moments too.

And while we need to be so conscious of our safety when engaging in online activities, maybe we should also be more alert with regards to our safety while out walking alone? I don't know about you but I rarely give it a thought. You should see the deserted part of the park that I casually, without a care in the world, recently strolled through capturing these photos as I went! The odd time I do consider the possibility of someone lurking in the forested areas, I step more into the middle of the pathway as I walk.

Then there was the late evening walk  that I once enjoyed. I was 'entrapped by the stillness of my surroundings' and the view of a solitary boat sitting in the darkening bay that evening. When I finally dragged myself away I sheepishly  ran almost all the way home in the eerie darkness! Definitely not to be repeated.

However when I disembark from late night transport, or on occasions when strolling home alone for part of my journey from the local village, I ensure I stay behind any individuals or small groups walking my way. I also hold my keys strategically in one hand while I have the local Garda Station phone number ready to go on the mobile phone tightly clenched in my other hand!

See, I am alert on any late night walks but never think of these precautions during the day.

Sadly I think I need to improve things. Perhaps we all do?

However I'm not prepared, as a friend suggests, to change my habits and only go walking through inhabited streets and areas.

I don't see why I should forego these areas of  great beauty just because there are some dangerous individuals about in our society.

But I could be  a little more careful.

And a little more observant.

How about you?


2 comments:

  1. Interesting post Jazzy: I never had a care in the world as a girl or a young woman, I wandered as I pleased at all times of the day and night! But I always took precautions: walking home late at night I would scuttle from lit up house to lit up house for example. These days I am a little more careful and I don't take short cuts down dark alleys at night, but I refuse to let horrible crimes, which are thankfully pretty rare, limit my life xx

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  2. @Looking for Blue Sky: I was terrible when younger, and I chose not to include my escapades in this post! And I agree with you on the short cuts and non-limitations. xx

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