As I was finishing with this article my wife comes in and tells me someone tried to mug her. At around 4 PM today she dropped my son by a friend´s house and since it was just a couple blocks away she walked back. A car pulls next to her and a guy with a baseball cap comes out of the passenger’s seat and hurries walking in her direction. We don’t play baseball here and baseball caps are mostly used by people that want to cover their faces. White baseball caps are “gangsta” for some reason and criminals or criminal wannabe’s favor them. She sees that this person is walking straight towards her instead of the more normal thing to do which would have been to keep a distance given that the wide sidewalk allows it. As he gets within a couple feet of her she runs across the street, nearly gets run over by a car, but when she looks back the would-be mugger has already turned around and quickly walks back to his car. Other than some cold sweat and a bit of palpitations she’s ok.
By pure coincidence I was writing now about avoiding exactly this type of crime, everyday crime in a society that is far more dangerous than the one we used to know not that long ago.
My wife has been robbed and kept at gun point several times. She instinctively knows these things by now. Women, children and elders are favorite victims chosen by predators. This same scumbag that was looking for an easier victim probably wouldn’t have gone after me. Now my 100 pound wife, hitting her and snatching her purse is not much of a challenge for one of these animals.
As the economic crisis continues, it’s a given that this sort of thing will become more and more common even in places and countries where it didn’t happen before. That’s where people that aren’t used to it get caught off guard. This is not about egos or being the biggest, meanest son of a gun, its about applying a common sense approach to problems people may not have a lot of experience with. This goes for everyone, tactical guys that pack heat on daily basis, ladies that don’t carry a gun or any other weapon, or my 87 year old grandmother.
I’m making this clear because the internet commandos are quick to remark that they would have shot the guy at least ten times, then do a ritual to enslave their undying souls. Truth is that even people that have been into dozens of gunfights will tell you the same thing: Avoid the conflict whenever you can. Its only in movies where people get into senseless gunfights all the time. Lethal Weapon would have been a very boring movie if after killing the first guy the weapons are taken away from the lead characters, they are suspended until the shooting is cleared, then they get sued by the “victims” family, and then you spend the rest of the movie watchin Mel Gibson and Danny Glover going through their accounts seeing how they will afford the legal expenses after getting fired from the police department. Even in “good” self-defense shootings you may spend a night or two in jail and that’s only the fun part, the real nightmare begins when you have to pay for your legal defense. Avoiding the use of force and escaping is always the best alternative when such a thing is possible.
If my wife was Anne Oakley and she had shot everyone that every tried to rob her, we’d be broke by now. By this I don’t mean that you shouldn’t fight when you must. Your life is priceless and indeed its better to be judged by twelve than carried by 6, when you had no other choice that is. We talk plenty about fighting, for a change lets talk about not making any mistakes and learning how to avoid the problems in the first place.
1) Not looking rich. This is clear enough but there’s more to it than it seems. Of course having all the gold all over you is an open invitation for criminals but there are more subtle considerations too. You shouldn’t dress like a dirt bag, but you can still dress like ordinary Joe or Jane that is making a honest effort to make it to the end of the month like most people these days. For ladies other things come into play. My grandmother and my wife, they usually don’t take their purses when they are going out to buy something, just the money in a pocket. This removes the purse from the equation in the criminal’s mind: Nothing to snatch. The plan has to be different, gets more complicated. Maybe the victim has money in a pocket, maybe not. Better to just go for one with a purse so as to be sure. Today my wife took her purse, she says this wasn’t a good idea.
2) Minimizing exposure. How often do people go willingly into “bad parts of town”, dark streets, places they don’t know well enough? How many times people confess they knew they were walking into the mouth of the wolf? Avoid these situations whenever you can, try getting home while there’s daylight. 4pm seems safe, but there’s no one on the street here at that time. People are working and kids are still in school here. At 5PM though the kids go out and parents pick them up, there’s more people on the street. If there’s a route where you know there’s cops or security, chose that route to your destination instead of others, even if it’s a longer drive or walk. This also applies to other strategies. For example parking close to the buildings you’re going to so as to minimize that parking walk and being closer from help. As noted in a previous post, the time it takes you to enter or exit your home or garage is a window of opportunity for criminals. While not going nuts about it and living life, still try to minimize this sort of situation as much as possible.
3) Being aware of your surroundings. This is probably the most important trait. Shooting 3 bad guys in 5 seconds is a nice ability to have, but its better to avoid them entirely in the first place. Your chances of getting hurt or killed drop to zero, so does the financial cost of your little anecdote. That’s clearly the best possible outcome. My wife she’s good at this part. She noticed this person and avoided him, ran. If she hadn’t noticed him all she would have felt was an explosion of getting hit, “a flash of white” as a lady that got hit the back of the head when mugged once described.
4) Assessing people around you. So you notice people in your surroundings, could they be a threat to you? In my wife’s case, he was dressing a way that, in our social and cultural environment it clearly has a negative implication. If self-claimed bad guys and criminals wear white caps, then you react to such a garment. The actions and body language often speak more than clothing. Criminals are known to dress well, even wear suits to look less conspicuous. You cannot dismiss females either. More and more women are seen committing crimes, either on their own or with other partners.
5) AAA: Assess, Analyze & take Action You can´t remember everything you read, but this would be a good way to assimilate all of the above in an easy to remember rule of thumb. Assess your situation. Who’s around you? Analyze. Are any of these individuals a possible threat to me? Most of all and much faster and easier to assimilate, is any of this out of place? If your gut feeling tells you something is wrong, then you probably instinctively picked up something you didn’t register on a conscious level. If the little red light in your brain is blinking, then pay more attention. Take action, DO something. My wife told me of a time when, while in a store, a suspicious looking person walked in. Since she makes sure to stay near the door when in a store, as he walked in she walked out before even noticing what she was doing. Such fast reaction to situations your gut instinct tells you they are wrong is the kind of reaction you want to achieve. One time while waiting to cross the street I heard a loud bang that sounded like a gunshot. Without thinking I took a step forward, putting a large cement column between myself and the source of the sound. This part is important, all of the above means nothing if you don’t DO something. Freezing is the only thing you’re not allowed to do here. Freeze and you are game. Run, fight, cry out for help but do something.
It is not my intention to scare anyone with all this. Life just goes on, and an ounce of prevention has always been a great investment.
Take care everyone.