Health & Safety

November 22, 2013

Holiday Hard-Target: Making yourself safe during the Holiday Season

Ryan Finnegan
Edwards AFB Operations Security manager

While the holiday season brings times of joy, great food, fellowship and shopping, it also brings increased danger to your personal safety from criminals who prey on soft targets.

All too often we see people out and about shopping with little to no situational awareness, or practice poor home personal security habits, which leaves them susceptible to becoming a victim of crime.

This season it’s time to change our security posture into one of increased situational awareness and sound home practices.

By implementing a few small, but effective changes in your daily habits, you will increase your safety, both outside and inside your home. While there is no need to live in paranoia, understanding what the criminal wants and does not want will increase your safety; thus, affording you an enjoyable holiday season.

In order to effectively protect yourself in the most efficient way possible you should have an understanding of what the criminal wants.

Tony Blauer, founder and president of Blauer Tactical Systems, teaches that the criminal wants three things: your property, your body or your life. While in most cases the criminal wants your property or your body, it may escalate to your life. A majority of crimes occur to people because they become careless with their property; i.e. leaving items outside, car doors unlocked, valuables in plain sight. Or, careless with their bodies; becoming intoxicated, overly trusting to an unknown person, losing situational awareness, which aids the criminal to less-restricted or easy access to what they want.

Now that we understand what the criminal wants, here are some easy actions to make you a hard target:

  • Lock your doors (both car and home)
  • Before leaving a store, or the safety of your car, take a look around for anything suspicious. If it doesn’t feel or look right it probably isn’t, avoid it
  • Stay off your cell phone while walking to/from your car or at the ATM
  • Avoid shopping during hours of darkness. If you have to, shop with a friend and park in a well-lit area.
  • Remove valuables out of plain sight in your vehicle
  • Do not leave boxes of large purchase items on the curb for trash pick-up such as TV boxes, computer boxes, gaming systems, etc.
  • Avoid putting your Christmas tree and presents in front of a window that is easily seen from the street. This gives the criminal view of how many new presents they can steal.

While these are just a few of the many easy steps you can take, I think you get the picture that if have a robust security posture it won’t cost you a lot of money if you are educated.
Now that we have covered a few easy to implement personal security measures to protect against what a criminal wants, let’s take a look at what they don’t want. According to Blauer, the bad guy does not want three things: to get caught, get hurt or the crime to take too long. If you can interject an action to the above three things it may deter the criminal forcing them to leave, or find another target that is easier.
There are a variety of actions you can take:

∑ Yell for help and make a scene (yes tell yourself to yell)
∑ Kick, scratch, punch, run
∑ Call the police as soon as you are in a safe location
∑ Accept what is happening and keep thinking

Remaining aware of your surroundings is the biggest asset in your “tool box.”

The first step in the BTS 3-D model is Detect to Avoid. Before leaving a store with your hands full of gifts or stopping at the ATM to withdraw cash, take a few moments to look around and scope the area out. If it doesn’t look or feel right, which is your body’s natural hardwired protection system warning you so listen to it, wait, or go get assistance. By avoiding a situation early on, it can save us from a potential violent confrontation.

If you can’t avoid it, or get caught without warning, attempt Defuse the Situation. According to Coach Blauer’s training, if you can get an individual to talk, 97 percent of the time you can persuade them to walk. You can accomplish this through a non-aggressive posture and choice words to deescalate the situation. It is important that while you are talking you should be planning your “out of here” route and looking for the criminals pre-contact cues; i.e. clinched fists, tightening of the chest muscles, increased breathing, etc.

When all else fails and you encounter a “three percenter” you must enact the third “D” – Defend yourself. There are a variety of ways to defend yourself, but the ultimate goal is to get away.

Remembering the criminal doesn’t want to get hurt, just like you, so attempt anything you can to survive the encounter. While most people have not taken a self-defense course, or combative training, there is hope.

According to Blauer, “There are more people who have successfully defended themselves through sheer will and indignation, with absolutely no training what-so-ever, than there are trained people who have been attacked and successfully defended themselves.” So fight like heck and get out of there and get to safety.

This season I challenge you to increase your awareness and change your habits. It’s not difficult or time consuming to accomplish. It won’t cost you a lot of money or hassle to implement. You don’t have to go to years of self-defense or combative training to master. Keep telling yourself to remain aware and listen to your body when it warns you something isn’t right (usually in the form of goose bumps).

By making yourself a “hard target” increases your odds that the bad guy will pick another target.
We wish you the very best and safest holiday season.




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