Over the last couple of weeks, the women of Rockford have been on edge after reports of young women have gone missing from Loves Park and other surrounding areas in the state line.

Families like Emily Anderson's are pleading for help, friends and loved ones are sharing their terrifying encounters in heartbreaking videos online and others are spreading awareness and sharing past stories of close encounters with potential abductors; in hopes of saving just one life. It's been incredible to watch our community come together and have each other's back when something this terrifying is happening in our own backyard.

But, for those times you're alone and you feel like someone might not have your back, what do you do?

I had the pleasure of speaking with a retired Rockford Police Officer this afternoon and she had some excellent tips on how to know if you're being followed and what to do if you think that you are.

Let's start with "how do I know if I'm being followed?"

  1. Women's intuition. Ladies, it's a real thing and science just confirmed it. You have the ability to read people's emotions just by looking into their eyes. Even if you can't see the look in their eye, if a person's body language, or what they're wearing makes you feel like something is off; there's a good chance there is.
  2. Trust your gut, plain and simple. If you think someone is following you, don't be afraid to go somewhere safe until you feel like you're no longer being followed.
  3. Be inconspicuous. Don't let the person you think is following you know that you recognize them. Try dropping something on the ground if you're on foot or pulling over if you're in a car. Did that person keep going and walk around you? Did that car pass you or did they slow down and stop too? Whatever you do, don't look over shoulder.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't walk around with your face in your phone. Walk with your head up, shoulders back and exude a lot of confidence. Take note of the people and things around you in the event you need to act quickly and ask for help.

If at that point, you still feel like you're definitely being followed then you should proceed to do the following, and this works on foot or in a car.

  1. Try the right turns trick. You want to make three right hand turns, basically go around the block or in a circle; if the person is still nearby, there's a very good chance you're being followed.
  2. Speed. If they are following you, make notice of their car speed and the amount of distance they're keeping between you and them. Predators will try to mimic your moves but they won't stay too close. Try slowing down. If you're walking or driving slow, the person following you has a greater chance of being exposed.
  3. If they're close enough, try to get a plate number. Local authorities say that even a partial plate number can help them track down the vehicle; especially if you have a really good description of the car.
  4. Drive to a public place. Preferably one that's very busy, like a convenient store. Should you need to pull over, you're close enough to a door where you can enter quickly to ask for help.
  5. Call the police. If there's one nearby, police always recommend that you drive to your local police station.
  6. Make a report of what you've seen. Recently, people have been sharing a years-old story on Facebook about an attempted kidnapping on Rockford's west side; the vehicle mentioned in that story matched a similar description given by a Rockford woman this week who reported that she was followed by a man in a green pick up truck. It had a lot of similarities to the one from the past and there's a thought that it could be the same truck. Never be afraid to tell someone your experience.

Please put these tips somewhere you can find them and share them with anyone you feel could benefit from them. Be vigilant. Be safe.

Catch Mandy James on “The Steve Shannon Show with Mandy James” on 97 ZOK from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Follow her on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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