A local gender-based organization is concerned about the recent spike in home invasions in which a number of women have been targets or victims.
The offences against them range from rape, other forms of sexual acts, battery, assault, robbery and thefts.
The Antigua & Barbuda Support and Referral Centre (SARC), which is attached to the Directorate of Gender Affairs, refers to news stories that seem to suggest that women living alone, or with children, are predominantly the targets or victims of these crimes.
As a result, the centre is urging women – as well as men – to exercise vigilance in their daily routines.
The SARC also notes that the Golden Grove area and its immediate surroundings have been the main areas targeted. It is therefore proposing several measures that women and other residents can take to safeguard themselves and their surroundings.
At-home measures include: ensuring that all windows and doors are always locked securely; particularly sliding glass doors and push-up windows.
Interestingly, in the offences reported, many intruders gained access through windows and doors that were closed, but not locked.
The SARC also recommends that persons check the identification of any sales or service persons before letting them onto their property or into their homes.
Additionally, the Centre says, homeowners should always conduct a physical examination of their property to ensure that it is secure before leaving the premises.
“Similarly, look for signs of break-ins before re-entering your homes… [and] if there is anything unusual, remain outside your home; and, where possible, alert your neighbours and call the police,” the SARC advises.
Proper lighting is also important, since it can act as a deterrent to intruders; and where it is applicable, persons are advised to leave on outside lights when they are away at night.
The SARC is also offering some suggestions for persons who go walking as a form of exercise or otherwise.
Persons on foot should pay closer attention to their surroundings and always be on the alert. As much as possible, they should stay in well-lit areas; walk confidently at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic; and avoid poorly lit pathways, such as bushy areas and alleys.
If anyone suspects that someone is following them, the SARC says he or she should walk into a store, or knock on the door of a neighbouring house, whichever is applicable.
On the other hand, persons who have been assaulted should try to remain as calm as possible, while observing the attacker keenly. This is because any description of the perpetrator may become useful to the police in their investigations.
Further, the SARC should be contacted without delay. Its office provides support services, including forensic medical examination, counseling, and police intervention.
To access support services, persons may call the 24-hour hotline at 463-5555 or visit the office on the corner of Nevis Street & Friendly Alley.