Ep. 14: What to do if You’re Being Followed

A homeless man faces multiple charges, including attempted rape, in connection with the robbery of a University of Georgia student just off campus Saturday.  

Jose Antonio Ramirez, 30, was arrested Tuesday after the woman was attacked in the 300 block of Oconee Street, according to Athens-Clarke County police. A prosecutor said Thursday the man followed her from a downtown Athens bar to her apartment because she was intoxicated and “looked like an easy target,” the Athens Banner-Herald reported. Ramirez allegedly rushed into the 23-year-old woman’s apartment shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday and pushed her onto a couch, the newspaper reported. The woman’s roommate called authorities, but the attacker fled before they arrived. 

After releasing a photo and a sketch of the suspect, investigators received information that led to Ramirez’s arrest in a parking lot in the 400 block of Lexington Road, police spokesman Geof Gilland said. They also recovered evidence allegedly linking him to the robbery.

Photo: Athens-Clarke County Police Department

In addition to the robbery and criminal attempt to commit rape charges, Ramirez faces charges of false imprisonment, battery and burglary.

Do you guys ever zone out while you’re doing things out in public? Yeah? Well if you’re going to avoid getting murdered, you’ve got to stay alert at all times. This is especially true when it comes to being followed. When you’re followed… that means someone is behind you!! You know the only way you’re going to know if someone is behind you? If you’re paying attention! 

You should also pay attention to your gut feelings. Most of the time, your intuition will tell you if there’s something wrong. if you experience those uncomfortable feelings, try to confirm them. We’ll talk about if you’re in a car or if you’re on foot– 

First off, just a quick word: all of the tips we’ve covered in previous episodes about body language can help you AVOID being followed altogether. Looking confident, aware of your surroundings, and prepared to kick someone in the crotch all go a long way into making a criminal pick a different target. Yes girl. 

  1. How to confirm if you’re being followed: 

If you’re in a car: 

  • the 4 turns trick– no one intentionally drives in circles. If you take 4 right turns one after the other, and the person does the same, you are being followed. 
  • If you’re on the freeway, get off and then immediately get back on. 
    • If you can’t find an exit, get in the far right lane and slow down by 5-10 MPH. Most cars will just pass you. If the car you suspect of tailing you stays right behind you, they’re probably up to something. 

If you’re on foot: 

  • Mix up your routine. If you always walk the dog at 7am and take a certain route, go a different way. If you always stop at the coffee shop in the afternoon, go to a convenience store instead. If you still see the person you suspect is following you, that means they’ve changed their route just like you did. 
  • change directions (turn around and walk the same way that you came)
  • change your pace (walk, run, slow down, etc.)

2. What to do Now

There are 2 main rules, whether you’re walking or driving: 

Don’t go home: you don’t want your follower to know where you live. Keep moving and keep driving until you either lose them, encounter the police, or they leave. 

Stay in a public place: don’t go anywhere that you will be alone. Don’t go to dimly lit areas, country roads, or anywhere that you could be cornered. If someone is following you in a store, don’t go out to your car– they could ambush you in the parking lot. Stay and talk to someone at the store and get them to escort you out, or just wait. 

If you’re on foot:

  • Take a deep breath and stay calm. Observe what your followerlooks like (height, build, hair color, skin color, clothing, distinguishing features, etc.)
  • You should never be embarassed about turning around and looking to see if the person is still behind you. Before you escalate things, look behind you and confront the situation head-on, letting the potential attacker know that you’re fully aware that he or she is on your tail. 
  • Call the police. Give them a location, a description of what your pursuant looks like, and keep the police on the phone as long as you can. 
  • Acknowledge your follower – a lot of crimes are just crimes of convenience. Most criminals just seize opportunities for crime when they see them– they don’t normally plan things out. A criminal will go after you because they think you’re an easy target- but if you turn and look at them, or ask them what they want, they might be flustered and decide that you aren’t such an easy target after all. I’ve also heard different theories like if you’re being followed by a harasser [rather than someone trying to commit a violent crime against you] you should ignore them)

Quickly assess the situation to see if it’s possible to get yourself out of harm’s way. If there is a group of people you can slip into and stay very publicly observed, this is a good first option. Look for people at a cafe, in a gallery, waiting in a queue, shoppers in a store, etc.––anywhere that a group of people is situated and where a potential attacker wouldn’t be able to make a move without being seen. Also, don’t try to be too obvious that you want to get away from the stalker. Just start speeding up a little bit from time to time, like it says before. Then, start jogging. At least you are somewhat getting further away from the stalker. If you run, you could get yourself in a big trap with the stalker. If there is a police or fire station, ambulance building or similar place with authority figures at work, run in there for safety.[5]

  • If it’s nighttime, and you really feel scared, stop at a well-lit public place, such as a restaurant or hotel. Call the police or family and friends and ask them to escort you to your home, or stay with them (either police or family and friends) for a while.
  • Never head for a dark alley, through fields or woods, or anywhere that could be a dead end. Always head for open public spaces, well-lit if night, and wherever there are the most people around.

If you’re in a car:

  • Make a mental note of the type of car, color, make/model, etc. If you can get the license plate number, that’s awesome but you probably won’t be able to. 
  • Call the police if you feel threatened, or drive to the nearest station. If you do call them, start giving them info like your location and the type of car you are in and the type of car that’s following you. 
  • Take a route with lots of traffic, stoplights, and stop signs. 
  • Be prepared to drive kinda crazy 

I think it’s a good idea to save a non-emergency police number in your phone. Or, save the precinct number of your district in your phone. 

Contact friends or family and let them know what’s happening 

Arrange to meet someone nearby

If you’re in public, start a conversation with someone in a store or on the street. Let them know very discreetly that you think you’re being followed and ask them to stay with you. 

Sources

Try to keep relevant contact info in your phone (non-emergency police, Little Rock Police, etc. etc.) and title it so that you can ask siri to call them in a pinch. 

iPhone users can hit their lock button on the side 3 times and it automatically calls 911! 

Also–in certain jurisdictions, you can text 911 if you’re unable to call in emergencies 

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