FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Preventing crime starts with the individual, according to Directorate of Public Safety officials.

October is Crime Prevention Month and DPS officials emphasize the importance of knowing what to do to keep from being a potential victim, not just for the month, but year-round.

"It's important to always be aware of what could potentially lead to crimes of opportunity," said Maj. Jay Massey, DPS deputy provost marshal. "Being aware of what's going on around you is the first way to protect yourself from things of that nature."

Post residents who might be going out of town for temporary duty or for holiday weekends, have the opportunity to schedule a housing check with DPS, Massey said. Forms for the checks can be picked up at neighborhood centers and should be turned in to the Fort Rucker police station on Andrews Avenue.

"Making a house look occupied is (critical) in the prevention of crimes of opportunity," Massey said. "Methods such as leaving a light on, investing in timed or motion lights, parking an extra vehicle in the driveway and having a neighbor pick up mail or newspapers can be a big help. If a house looks like someone is home, it's less likely to be broken into."

Peggy Contreras, Community Police supervisor, said people should also not leave valuables in open places like the front seat of a vehicle or in an open garage.

"It's very easy to just take a wallet out of a purse and leave the purse in the front seat if you're running into a store for a minute, but that's all it takes," Contreras said. "Leaving anything valuable like a cell phone, (digital music device), wallet or purse in the open is inviting to people who might want to take advantage of that situation."

Protecting yourself on- and off-post is another issue post residents should be concerned with, according to both Massey and Contreras.

"With the holidays coming up, people may be out shopping more and it's best to stay with friends or in groups when out in public during those times," Massey said. "If someone is out shopping and the parking lot is not well lit, they should walk with a friend to their vehicle."

Throughout October, DPS staff will host several on-post events to promote crime prevention, Contreras said.

Special Lunch and Learn events will be at the Chapel of Wings Annex from 11 a.m. to noon every Thursday beginning Oct. 7 covering topics such as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and the changing face of law enforcement. There will also be special displays at the Post Exchange featuring crime prevention tips, Contreras said.