Women’s Safety Lessons

It’s far better to know these safety lessons from true crime stories and not need them, than to need them and not know. Learn how criminals trick you - and how to stop them.

SCAM-IN: whatever you do – do NOT open the door!

About 1:45 am, her boyfriend spoke to Angela Samota on the phone at her home and heard a man's voice in the background. Miss Samota said there was a man asking to use her bathroom and phone. Minutes later, the boyfriend tried calling Miss Samota. No answer, so he drove to her place. About 2 am., he pounded on her door. No answer. Finally, he called the police and they found Miss Samota stabbed to death on her bed at 2:17 am.

Do NOT ignore warning signs

17-year-old Catherine Woods was stabbed to death by her boyfriend, Paul Cortez, 24 – who was jealous over an ex-boyfriend. Many young women find themselves in dangerous relationships because they lack the experience to understand relationship violence. Catherine Woods was never afraid of Cortez. Young women don’t know that evil can come in the form of a good-looking boy.

See Teen Abuse.

(or any want-ad)

Predators hunt for prey in newspaper and online ads and social media. Such person-to-person ads have always been risky for both buyers AND sellers. The old saying, “Caveat Emptor” ("Let the Buyer Beware"), should also add “Let the SELLER Beware.” Any time two strangers meet for a business transaction, especially if they meet in a private place, either one is very vulnerable to a violent crime. A man saw an ad on Craigslist for a big-screen TV selling for half its value. But when he went to the seller’s house, he got a gun in his face. A couple went to see a car posted on Craigslist. They didn't bring any money, so the woman was held hostage as the man was taken to an ATM. Want-ad robberies happen every day. The victims arrive at empty homes in normal surroundings or parking lots and walk into a trap.

Common Police Tips For Buying Off Craigslist
1. Meet in public places, like a bank or store with security cameras and a lot of people.
2. Never take cash when meeting a stranger.
3. Have a friend wait nearby with a cellphone so they can contact police, if needed.
4. Never go into a house if someone yells for you to come inside.
5. Watch your surroundings and leave if something seems suspicious.

Critique: The first three tips are not very practical:
1 a. Will a legitimate seller bring a big-screen TV or any big and bulky item to a public place for you? Not likely.
1 b. If a seller is willing to do so, you’ll be meeting a total stranger in a parking lot outback (where it’s less congested – with few, if any, witnesses or security cameras nearby). Is he really a seller? Why risk it?
1 c. How can you test an electrical appliance in a parking lot? You can’t.
2. True. But a stranger will likely insist on cash (checks and even "certified Money Orders" can be bogus). Still, you should NEVER take a wad of cash to meet a total stranger in a prime robbery zone. Before you go, ask the seller if they'll accept a money order.
3. Having a friend nearby with a cell phone is too little, too late – as in, “When seconds count, cops are minutes away". (An average of 11 minutes!)
4. Good advice.
5. Good advice.

The usual police advice for want-ad buyers/sellers is to meet in well-lighted, well-populated areas, such as inside shopping malls with surveillance cameras. Big deal! Many true crime stories show that, sure, you can sell a small item while meeting a buyer in a mall hallway, but the buyer might have a criminal partner nearby to rob you when you return to the parking lot. They’ll get both the item you sold and all your money.

Or, if you’re the buyer, a criminal can simply not show up, have a partner watch as you get frustrated until you finally give up and return to the mall parking lot and then they’ll rob you.

A Boise ID woman was suspicious of an offer of a free iPod on Craigslist. But still the woman and her husband followed e-mail instructions to get the i-Pod which took them to a porta-potty by a park. They called police who found Stephen Newman with a knife and wearing a black ski mask.

and you learned it first at

For buying/selling small items through a want-ad, it is safer to meet in a parking lot – if it’s the parking lot of the local police station!  Criminals will unlikely agree to meet there – or dare to rob you. Honest strangers will likely feel safer as well.

For large items that you are selling from your home (and for Garage or Yard Sales): having witnesses nearby visibly watching over you might deter a criminal from robbing you at that time. Perhaps have some of your neighbors nearby – but not so close that they can be taken hostage in an armed robbery (see Survival Options - Hostage Taking).

But do you really want strangers at your home? Criminals often respond to ads so they can check you out and return later when you least expect it. See a variety of examples at Home Security - Cracks. You'll see that you're really rolling the dice. Do you feel lucky?

For large items that you are buying at a stranger’s “home” (is it really just an empty home in an upscale neighborhood?). Caveat Emptor!!! You’re on your own, baby! Carrying cash into a stranger’s turf is very risky. Gamble in Vegas – not in your life.

Craigslist is just the most famous example of where predators lurk. Know that any website or newspaper want-ad or social media poses the exact same dangers – and predators search for all such opportunities. It’s their job.


See more true crime stories at Wolf in Sheep's Clothing and Friendly Predators.


Carry Pepper Spray & a Personal Security Alarm (noisemaker or screamer) within easy reach. Those pages tell you how to use them most effectively.

Crime-Safety-Security > Site Directory > True Crime Stories

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