WILMINGTON -- Downtown is known for its restaurants, shops and bars -- but there are also some hidden dangers. In fact, there are three crimes that can happen to anyone - any time of day. ATM theft, panhandling and armed robbery -- Officer Craig Melville of the Wilmington Police Department says these are three crimes to be especially aware of downtown. "It can be a problem, especially for people out of town," Officer Melville said. Melville says anyone can be a victim of ATM theft, no matter the time of day at night your chances are greater. "There are more people downtown, it's more populated at night, people go to bars, there is a lot of intoxicated people," Officer Melville said. To avoid putting yourself at risk, use an ATM in a well lit area. "You want to find somewhere that has a lot of people around, also you want to check your surroundings, make sure there is no place someone can hide," Officer Melville said. Panhandling is also an issue downtown, especially for tourists. "They will try to find more populated areas, so if you look like a tourist, they might try to bother you." If someone asks you for money, don't give it to them, even if you're just trying to help. "The best thing you can do is keep walking, ignore them, don't make any contact, if you have a cell phone take it out and hopefully they will leave you alone." In recent months, police have seen a rising number of armed robberies downtown. To avoid this happening to you, be aware of your surroundings and always trust your instincts. "Get a cab, get a ride home, if you do you should be aware of your surroundings, if you get a gut feeling then you should go with it." And if you do feel like you are being followed don't go home. "Go to a convenience store, somewhere that is well lit." Officer Melville also said if you are walking by yourself, you can use your keys as a weapon if needed. If you are approached by someone trying to rob you -- give them what they ask for. Property can be replaced, your life can not.
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