Bad guys are basically wimps. If they have a choice between doing a strong-arm robbery on a little old lady with $20, or two football defensive linemen who have $500 between them – ninety-nine times out of one-hundred, they will choose the little old lady. The reason is obvious: the little old lady is an easy target, while the two football players are more likely to beat the crap out of them. Sure, the $500 is a better payday, but the risk of ending up in the hospital makes the certainty of $20 with no conflict a better option in their mind.
Knowing this, you can begin to see how what you do, and how you do it can either make you, your business, your home, or your vehicle, a more attractive target, or make a bad guy want to avoid you – choosing instead to look for another, easier target, to go after. With that in mind, I would like to tell you about four general principals you can use – either by themselves, in combination, or by doing all four – to greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Increase likelihood of identification or capture
Bad guys don’t want to get caught, if they can be identified they might get arrested, if they get arrested, they lost their ability to steal for the time they spend in jail or in prison. Generally, the more likely they are to get caught (the longer it takes for them to commit a crime, the more witnesses who may see them – or cameras that will get them on video doing a bad thing, the more noise or attention their activity attracts, etc.), the less likely they are to do that thing. Lights, barking dogs, alarms, etc., all can help.
Walking down an alley or passing areas where someone could be unseen in the darkness, being alone walking to your car at 2:00am in a huge and empty parking lot, or being in other places where no one will be able to see what is going on – are just the kind of places bad guys want to be. Areas where lots of people can see what is going on, areas with bright lighting, areas where there is no place to hide from view – these are places where bad guys try to stay away from.
Increase the difficulty or effort required
They want easy pickens, weak targets, something simple – if it’s gonna take a lot of time or effort, they are less likely to want to do it. Walking down the street, or across a dark parking lot, project an image that you will not be a “little old lady” – that instead you will resist and fight like a defensive linebacker, you may lose, but you will be taking them down with you. Instead of looking down and being engrossed in your smartphone, put the phone in your pocket and keep your eyes up, looking around, scanning your surroundings, and make eye contact (a gentle acknowledgement that you see them approaching – not a confrontational glare), with those who you encounter.
At your home, business or vehicle, make them work really hard to get in, which also takes extra time. Reinforcing access points: heavy duty doors; commercial grade door locks and hardware; “hurricane” reinforcing film on glass windows that makes it harder to break the glass, but if it is broken, keeps it from being removed from the frame – so they can’t get in easily. How about these simple tips – keep your valuables out of sight, and always keep all the windows closed, and the doors locked – you’d be shocked to find how many people don’t lock their doors….
Decrease possible reward or value
Breaking into a car that has a $20 stereo that barely works is a waste of their time, breaking into a car with $500 worth of stuff is more likely to be worth their time and effort. There is a guy who lives near me who has a shiny red Ferrari. To some, this sends a message about he and his potential financial health. However, he keeps it in the garage, and the garage door closed all the time. Anyone who drove through the area looking for a target of theft, would not look twice at his house. If you have really valuable or expensive stuff, it should be properly secured, insured, and not flaunted or used to show off to people who might want to steal it.
If you own and wear expensive jewelry, watches, etc. you should be careful about how you display your baubles, and where and to who you let see you wearing them. I have several very nice watches, people may see me wearing them at certain business functions, dinner parties, or similar events – otherwise, you’ll see me wearing my Casio G-Shock (about $150 when new, it may be worth $10 at a pawn shop), it keeps excellent time, and stands up to the everyday bumps and activities I go through on a regular basis. Most importantly, it doesn’t stand out and give someone the idea it would be worth their while to take it from me.
Remove excuses, alibis, justifications or explanations
No trespassing signs, warning stickers, locked doors, fences, pokey bushes planted under low exterior windows, barking dogs, motion lighting, etc. – all of these very loudly send the message: “if you are not a guest invited to be here – you are not welcome, please leave…” These all come together to show and demonstrate that the bad guy knew they were not welcome, they didn’t just walk through an unlocked door, they can’t say “I didn’t know” because it was clear they weren’t supposed to be there.
On a personal level, telling someone “I don’t know you, I can’t help you – please get away from me” –When you say “get away from me” they can’t say “I didn’t know you wanted me to leave you alone…” Stepping back, moving to the side, and scanning around you to see if the person approaching you has an accomplice – as you are telling them to stay away – lets anyone who has innocent motives understand to stay back. Should someone ignore your declaration and warning and keep approaching you – it would be very reasonable, and probably a good idea, to consider that they mean to do you harm. By using signs, signals, and clear verbal statements and warnings, you remove excuses, or their ability to explain away being somewhere they aren’t welcome.
Please understand that while these strategies are very powerful prevention tools, they are not completely foolproof in all situations. These are exceptions to every rule, and there are always a small percentage of people that “never get the message” no matter how clearly it is explained. However, in the vast majority of situations, utilizing these techniques will decrease the chances you will be selected as a victim.