Editorial: Student’s rape, murder a chilling reminder of our vulnerability | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Student’s rape, murder a chilling reminder of our vulnerability

Rape. Few other words in the English language incite such revulsion. Or should.

Reno resident Brianna Denison’s death at the hands of an alleged serial rapist is a tragic reminder that we all are vulnerable. Given the right circumstances, opportunistic attackers can wreak havoc whenever they desire.

Denison, a student at Santa Barbara City College, was visiting her hometown over winter break and last was seen sleeping at a friend’s house near the University of Nevada, Reno, campus.

After a monthlong search, police found Denison’s body Friday in a brush-covered field by a business park. The site was about eight miles from the friend’s house where she last was seen early Jan. 20. Police indicated her body had been in the field for more than a week, and recent heavy snowfall may have delayed the discovery.

Police believe Denison was strangled to death by a man who earlier attacked at least two other women in Reno. They believe the suspect lives in the city, probably north of the downtown casino district near the campus.

Though this particular kidnapping occurred in Reno, it could have happened in South Lake Tahoe. Though we don’t have a large university in town, young tourists flock here for the day and nightlife. Some, who may be unfamiliar with the area and people, could be particularly vulnerable to creeps with harm on their minds.

So, please be careful.

These tips from the city of Davis Police Department may help:

— Travel in well-lighted, well-traveled areas.

— If possible, walk in pairs or more.

— Walk facing traffic.

— Plan your route ahead of time.

— Know your neighborhood: Be aware of nearby businesses, their hours of operation and their locations.

— Avoid shortcuts, bushy areas and alleyways.

— Dress for ease of movement.

— If possible, don’t carry a purse.

— Don’t burden yourself with bulky packages or belongings.

— Walk assertively and maintain a sharp awareness of your surroundings.

— If you sense you are being followed, cross to the opposite side of the street and head for the nearest open business or occupied dwelling.

— When seeking help from the occupant of a residence, yell “fire,” not “help,” “rape” or “murder,” and draw attention any way possible.

— Install good locks on doors and windows and use them.

— Only put your last name on your mailbox, or consider inventing roommates.

— If you choose to list your phone number, only list your first initial and last name. Never include your address in the telephone book.

— Install an eye-viewer in your door.

— Never automatically open your door without knowing who is on the other side; talk through the door.

— Don’t rely on chain latches and screen doors for security, as they are no barrier to intruders.

— Instruct your children in safe door and telephone techniques.

— Don’t answer questions asked over the telephone.

— Ask for identification from servicepeople. If still not satisfied, call the business and verify the visit is legitimate.

— Have someone present whenever a man is going to be performing a service in your home.

— Have your keys in your hand when going to and from your car.

— Lock doors and roll up windows whenever you leave your car.

— Keep doors and windows locked whenever you are in your car.

— Before entering your car, always check under the car and behind the front seat.

— Park in well-lighted, well-populated areas.

— Be aware of your surroundings as you walk through parking lots. Suspects often hide between parked cars.

— If your car breaks down, raise the hood and turn on emergency flashers. Remain in your locked car until help arrives. If someone stops to offer assistance, ask them to send a tow truck or to contact local law enforcement. Talk through the window.

n If you are being followed, don’t turn into your own driveway. Head for the nearest populated area or open business.

Our increasingly mobile society necessitates added caution for dating and meeting people. It is important to maintain a degree of caution in unfamiliar social situations.

— When first meeting a new friend, exchange phone numbers, not addresses.

— Keep someone apprised of your whereabouts when dating a man for the first time.

— Refrain from going to bars and clubs alone. However, if you choose to do so, have your own transportation available and use it.

— Don’t allow alcohol or drugs to cloud your common sense.

— If a man persists in asking for your phone number, and you feel it would cause a problem should you refuse, give him a phony number (i.e., a recorded message).

— Know what your personal social standards are and stick to them. Don’t allow your judgment to be overruled by an aggressive pursuer.

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