Defense Against Crime

02/06/2009

Put that Cell Phone Down…

Be Mindful of your Surroundings

Be Mindful of your Surroundings

I was out shopping the other day and sitting in my car trying to get the dog secured and was just watching people, looking for an inspiration for my next blog piece. When I suddenly noticed it, as plain as the sun in the sky. There they were people getting out of, or walking to their cars while either talking to, or texting on their cell phones. The cell phone users were pretty oblivious to anything going on.  While cell phone have allowed us the luxury of instantaneous communications, it has also lead to some tragic deaths, or a source of great distractions.   If you’ve ever see the show 1000 ways to die you may have see the case where a man is texting his girlfriend while driving, arguing about where she should be picked up. Since neither of them are paying attention to where they are going, the man accidentally runs over his girlfriend with his half-ton pickup truck when she unknowingly steps out in front of it.  Perhaps you seen cases where people have been on phone and step out in front of cars. However, what I was look at was potential crime victims.

FBI Crime studies indicate us that women are extremely at risk when walking to and from their vehicles in parking lots. Parking lots are ideal for criminals because they can simply walk around as if they were an ordinary law abiding citizen when they are actually looking for a target. Parking lots offer criminals a never ending supply of potential people to victimize and vehicles to steal or break into.

Women in particular make themselves easy targets for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because they always have a long list of things to do. The second reason most criminals can attest to is , while they are on their cell phone, they like to talk and air out what they’re going to do: “I’m going to go here”, “I’m going to do this and see somebody”. All the criminal does  is stay in the shadows and listens while we talk and that’s why we become a target.”

According to interviews done with prison inmates, they told that women on cell phones as good targets. Anyone on a cell phone is pre-occupied with her conversation and not focusing on her surroundings.

As always anyone needs to be mindful of their surroundings.  Everyone should exercise caution and use common sense when parking their vehicles in parking lots. These tips may seen utterly simple yet most people never seem to do them.

  • When arriving at a parking lot, try and park as close to the front of the store/building that you are visiting.
  • Use the main/front entrance of a large shopping mall because it is always busy with people and vehicle traffic.
  • The main entrance is most always under video surveillance and criminals often know this. A criminal lurking around a mall parking lot would most likely target a victim who parked in a remote or less crowded section.
  • Don’t be taken by surprise. Be aware and be prepared.
  • Stand tall and walk confidently. Don’t show fear. Don’t look like a victim.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave right away and get help if necessary.
  • If you have a choice, don’t park in parking garages because they offer criminals a better opportunity to stay concealed and lay in wait for victims. While searching for your “close to the front” parking space, start scanning the parking lot for suspicious looking people. Obviously if the criminal who is casing the parking lot is sitting in a vehicle you may not see him. Many vehicles have dark tint which makes it even harder to ascertain if the car parked next to you is occupied or not. It’s not too hard to pick up on traits that make a person “suspicious” A person slowly walking through the parking lot who seems to be looking around frequently would make some suspicious. (unless they can’t remember where they parked). A person who is standing in the parking lot doing nothing other than standing around would make some people suspicious. A person who is sitting or standing in front of the store by himself watching people would make some  suspicious. A car slowly driving around the parking lot numerous times would also be suspicious.
  • When you exit your car and walk towards the mall/store, look around and scan the parking lot which does two things. First, by looking around and scanning the area it should alert you to a suspicious person or car. Secondly, if a criminal is in the parking lot looking for a victim, he may see that you are aware of your surroundings and you may not be an easy target. Keep your cell phone in your hand and if someone starts to approach you get on your phone and make a call or pretend to be making a call. If you have a cell phone stun gun, you can opt to defend yourself.

Needles to say, I am a big advocate of women carrying pepper spray and if you carry it, please know how to use it.

Are you prepared?

Are you prepared?

Keep it in your hand when you are walking to and from your car. My wife and daughter keep their pepper sprays on their key ring and  are instructed not to hesitate to spray someone suspicious who approaches them or and makes them insecure about their security. If someone ever approaches you in a parking lot, show them your pepper spray and tell them to stop or you will spray them. I have seen some really big men drop to the ground and scream after they have been sprayed. Get pepper spray if you don’t already have some.

I am not a big advocate of lethal protection as I’ve seen family members accidently killed by them. I’ll leave that decision to you.

While you are inside the mall/store, keep an eye out for suspicious acting people who might be looking for a potential crime victim. That strange person that keeps popping into every store that you visit is someone to watch out for. Remember that guy who was loitering in front of the mall or in the parking lot when you arrived? If he is still in the same spot, he is suspicious and should be avoided. (The Salvation Army doesn’t count)

If you see someone suspicious in the parking lot or inside the mall/store, find a security officer and report your concerns. Most major malls have private security and don’t be shy to go to them and have them walk you to your car. If possible, go to the mall/store with another person or a group of people. Criminals like easy targets and several people walking together are not easy when compared to a single person walking alone.

Keep these tips in the back of your mind every time you park in a parking lot because they will help keep you safe. Bring up this topic with your family, friends, and co-workers so they can take steps that will make them safer.

By Victor Swindell, owner of PepperEyes.com, a division of Swindell Enterprises. PepperEyes.com is dedicated to assist those people who are unwilling to become a victim and are taking responsibility to protect themselves, their cars, or their possessions .In today’s society being equipped mentally and physically is no longer an option.

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1 Comment

  1. The U.S. Dept. of Justice reports that some type of sexual assault occurs every 2.5 minutes in the U.S. And a person is raped every eight minutes. If you have a daughter on a college campus, you must be worried all of the time. I did when I had two daughters on two different campuses.
    But that was before so many effective self-defense devices for women were on the market. Every parent with a daughter – or a son, for that matter – on a college campus should insist that he or she carry one or more self-defense aids. At the very least, every student should carry a personal alarm that will draw attention to any crisis. It is easily activated and is loud enough to scare any sane person away. There is also a personal alarm with flashlight, either one small enough to fit into a pocket or purse.
    The numbers cited become even more frightening when you consider that only 39% of all students who have been raped actually report it to authorities.
    Rana Sampson, in an article entitled “Acquaintance Rape of College Students”, claims that “rape is the most common violent crime on American college campuses today.” And it has been reported that college women are more at risk for rape and other forms of assault than women the same age but not in college.
    There is a lot of peer pressure on young ladies in college to not report what has come to be known as “date rape”. That has led to the following from the Bureau of Justice Statistics: “48.8% of college women who were victims of attacks that met the study’s definition of rape did not consider what happened to them rape.”
    I’m sure that parents would not agree with that assessment; they would rather their daughter have sounded the personal alarm. The sound no doubt would have broken “the mood.” Adding to parents’ concerns is the alcohol effect. Some studies have shown that up to 50% of all college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol. This doesn’t necessarily mean the young lady is under the influence; it could be only the male, alcohol which has bolstered his courage and released some inhibitions. Again, peer pressure enters the equation, but a loud blast from the personal alarm could undo that sudden burst of courage very quickly.
    There are other options to the personal alarm, such as the keychain alarm with light, a signal that can be activated with the push of a pin, and a pocket/keychain whistle, which you don’t have to actually blow, but also activates with the push of a button.
    To see more on the personal alarm, or to view any of the related items, go to http://www.yoursecurityandsafety.com/alarm.htm

    Like

    Comment by robert dimond — 04/08/2009 @ 8:16 AM


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