1. Be aware...no really
You say this and people roll their eyes, like, obviously do that, but how many people walk around with their head down glued to their phone, sometimes quite literally into oncoming traffic. It doesn't matter if it is day or night, thieves and other criminals are looking for an easy mark, and you've made their job super easy if you aren't even aware they are right behind you or right next to you waiting to grab your stuff or you. Leave any location with your head up, scanning left, right, and checking behind you at least once or twice if it's a long walk to your car/building/house/parking lot, and have your keys in hand to use as a weapon if need be to gouge a would be attackers eyes.
2. Self Defense
As illustrated above, there are a couple of common moves that can help you escape an attacker. Go for the eyes, throat, and groin as these are some of the most vulnerable parts of the body. Something much more important though, is that if you are being attacked, forget everything you've been taught about being nice, calm, using an indoor voice, or being a lady. Unfortunately, attackers expect you to be weak and not fight back, or to cry and panic.
This may be your largest advantage because it is totally unexpected that you will be loud and be aggressive, or fight back, but this is life or death. Wait for any opportunity, and take it. Obviously if there is a gun to your head, I wouldn't advise that be the moment, but if the gun or knife is down or your attacker has only just grabbed you, fight back, scratch, claw, knee in the groin, punch in the throat, two fingers in the eye, head butt, use your voice and scream to call attention to them, or straight run away...anything you can do to disable or get away from them.
3. Don't make yourself an easy target
Criminals do not want targets that look like they are going to fight back, or who are paying attention, or who don't have things that they can easily grab. Leaving a store with 10 bags you can barely carry, walking home at night with a purse on your arm or shoulder, walking alone, being on your phone or with your headphones in....these things make you an easy mark. Carry a large umbrella if you must walk alone. Criminals tend not to attack people who have potential weapons already on them. If you must go shopping at night, only take your keys, phone, money (in a pocket) into the store. A thief doesn't want someone who looks like they work at the store, or don't have money on them.
4. Don't let them drive off with you
If someone gets in the car with you with a gun and says drive, you do not want to go wherever they want you to go. Please know that this may be your last opportunity to do anything by choice if you are told to drive. In that situation, it becomes life or death. Your car can be replaced, you cannot. Odds are, they aren't going to be wearing a seatbelt in case they need to ditch, but put yours on, and then as soon as you can, drive straight into something preferably on their side of the car---a tree, a wall, another car. They can't make you go anywhere in a car that's incapacitated and they certainly won't be sticking around for police or ambulance to come if they are conscious after you hit something.
5. Stay on floors 3-6
If you're booking a hotel, you want to stay on floors 3-6. Thieves and criminals want easy access which they can have by running in and grabbing stuff or pushing you into your room. They can do this more easily on floors 1 or 2...but 3 and up is a lot harder. Staying below 6 is a fire safety thing. If a fire breaks out, ladders can only go so high, aka, the 6th floor, so it's best to stay somewhere in that range. Also do not book rooms near exits and elevators...also easy to be grabbed, mugged, pushed in an elevator at gunpoint or worse.
6. Breaking Zip Ties and Duct Tape
If your hands are zip tied by a criminal in front of you, and you are left somewhere, you can escape you restraints. Make sure the long zipped part is in the middle of your wrists (you can adjust it with your teeth), then raise your hands above your head in a prayer hands motion, and then in a hard swift motion bring your wrists down whilst simultaneously thrusting your stomach forward to greet them. The tension will break the zip ties. If it doesn't work, you may need to tighten the zip ties with your teeth, and then try again. Even as a woman, I was able to easily break through zip ties in this manner in one try. If your wrists are duct taped, the same motion works.
If you are duct taped to a chair, use the 'puke method'. Lean back a bit in the chair, and then with one swift hard motion, like you suddenly had to puke between your legs, whip forward, head between your legs or towards your lap depending on how much you're duct taped. The tension should snap the duct tape. Again, if the first try doesn't work, try again, duh!
7. Don't go home just yet
Whenever I am driving home, particularly at night, if there is any car behind me as I near my block, I will turn off on the first or second streets en route to make sure I'm not being followed. If the car follows you, immediately get someone on the phone, and drive to a police station or other very public place, but DO NOT freak out and drive home because then the criminal knows where you live.
8. Get familiar with your trunk
Most modern cars made after 2002, thanks unfortunately to the death of a young girl who died in a trunk, have a release cord in them that glows in the dark that will pop your trunk from the inside. Know where that is, and get out as soon as possible. Be aware, it may also be a cord, button, or toggle switch, or a handle that does not glow in the dark located near the trunk latch.
If you can't find that, the car doesn't have one, try kicking your way out through the passenger seats. If you have ones that fold down, there may be a hatch inside the trunk or just try kicking through anyway when kidnappers leave.
Failing all else, kick out the break lights if you hear the kidnappers leave. Wiggle your hands out of the back of them as well---this is sure to call attention to the car or police. Do not let too much time pass as you wait because the further away you will get and not know where you are.
9. Don't follow me
If you feel like you're being followed, don't just lead that person to your car/house/location. To see if you're being followed, cross the street and look behind you as you do. If you see the person is still there following you, pretend to appear to have lost your way on the other side and suddenly double back. This way you can see the person behind you. If it's at night, or even the day time, walk to a public or well lit location where you can go inside and there are other people and just sit tight. From there you can call a friend/family member to come and pick you up or the police if you recognize the person following you, as in, a stalker you are already aware of.
10. Cab/Uber Safe
Before you get in, snap a quick photo of the the vehicle plates or cab number and/or the cabby and make it a point of calling/texting a friend and letting them know that you are getting into the cab/uber, where you got in, when you should arrive where you are going, etc. If you are in an area that is foreign to you, google the directions ahead of time so you know how long it should take and relatively where you should be heading.
11. Fake police
Okay, number 1, if you were doing 95 in a 60, odds are, it's a real cop pulling you over, however, if you are particularly a lone female alone in your car at night, or in the middle of nowhere, and the car behind you is unmarked or doesn't look anything like a police car, or only has a set of flashers, get suspicious. Do not immediately stop just yet. Turn on your emergency lights, and slow down to indicate you are aware they are behind you (in case it really is a cop) and always drive to a very public very well lit place.
When stopped, roll your window down only low enough to slide your id through and make sure before they approach that all your doors are locked. You have the right to ask to see the cops badge/id. Ask politely (remember, they may still actually be a real cop). If they refuse, or don't allow you a chance to actually look at it, ask politely again. If you have any suspicions about an officer or officers, call 9-1-1, and give 9-1-1 your location and let them know your suspicions. Stay on the line, and let them tell you if the officer is real.
If a cop or cops show up at your house, they cannot just barge in or demand to come in. If they are there for a criminal investigation or to ask questions, they must legally be allowed in by someone who is at the location who gives them permission to enter. If you say no, there is nothing they can do about it UNLESS they come back with a warrant to search the place or enter. You can quite literally talk to them through your front door without opening it or not at all. If they are real, remember, they can get a warrant and come back if they are legit, and so be it, but do not allow someone in a uniform, (fakes can be purchased online) just to enter your home because they are demanding to do so. Again, call 9-1-1 and ask if the officers are indeed real.
12. Someone claiming to need help or money
If you are suddenly approached by someone who claims they have a young child in distress who needs help somewhere outside of your current location or someone that needs help AND can you hurry and follow them to that location so you can help them, this may be a trap and when you get to the location, others may be waiting to take you or your belongings, or worse. If someone needs help--think this through...it's 2017, and most people have cell phones to call for help or you have yours, so tell them, you will call 9-1-1 for them so that help can be on scene. If the person insists that you must follow them, insist you will call 9-1-1 first and that you need a location...do not leave your own or if you are so inclined, get someone to go with you and have 9-1-1 on the line as you do. Someone in a real emergency will not tell you not to call 9-1-1!
If someone approaches you in a parking lot for change or needing you to make a call for them, they may be a ready and waiting thief. As soon as you pull out your phone or your purse, they may grab it. A lot of people have good hearts, and this one may be hard for you to resist trying to help, but people approaching you especially as soon as you leave your car or near it, may be a huge red flag. Decline politely, donate to charities, tell them, your phone is dead, it may save your life/property.