by Greg Hopkins
Clash Daily Contributor
Clausewitz said, “War is the continuation of Diplomacy by other means.” Criminals believe that robbery is work by other means, and rape is dating by other means. Seventeen years as a prosecutor and defense lawyer taught me that felons do a cost/benefit analysis before committing crime. It boils down to: “Do I want this?”, and “How hard/risky is it to get?”. Felons are used to instant gratification with zero respect for the persons and property of others, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid. The Bible says they plan their crimes, however briefly. See, Prov. 1:10-19. “The soul of the wicked desires evil. His neighbor has no favor (gets no mercy) in his eyes” (Prov. 21:10). If he decides that you are prey, it means he thinks his chances of getting hurt or caught are low. If he has picked the average, unaware person, that victim’s first and possibly last thought will be, “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” Felons only fear people who can hurt them, or getting caught.
Look up the definition of “Emergency”. It’s something that happens when you don’t expect it and it’s personal enough that it must be dealt with. For example, 31 years ago my car caught fire. Ever since, all my cars have had fire extinguishers in them. No fires since, but a lesson learned from an emergency. If it ever happens again, I’m prepared. Life has no guarantees, so be prepared. Crime is one of those emergencies. “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly.” (Prov. 16:13). Even good swimmers wear life jackets in boats because they know they could get knocked out as they fall out of a boat. The vest keeps your head above water, conscious or not.
Awareness of risk creates alertness, encourages education, and yields results. Books like The Truth About Self Protection by Massad Ayoob, and The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker will help you get your bearings on paying attention to what and who is around you. Train to know who is around you. Notice clothing or actions that are out of place. This is not hard. It’s like the alertness you have when driving, noticing a car coming up on your left. You’ve trained yourself to watch it and not move to the left lane until it passes. Learn to notice the patrons and note cover and concealment as you enter a convenience store. Cops don’t call them “Stop and Robs” and “Murder Marts” for nothing! Sit facing the door at restaurants so you see any threats first. The recent Miami airport terrorist attack teaches us to stand at a place by the baggage carousel where you can see suspicious behavior by others. This “Condition Yellow” mindset is easy to learn and include in your everyday consciousness.
The felon is looking for easy prey. Easy prey is the girl walking with her attention solely in her smartphone, the jogger with headphones preventing them from hearing anyone coming from behind, the elderly who display physical or mental weakness, mothers with several toddlers or babies. Distracted Moms often leave purses in shopping carts and walk away, and leave toddlers alone “for just a second”. Outdoor ATM’s are especially hazardous if you’re just focused on your money. All these scenarios mean someone is zeroing in on you while you are distracted.
Lions at the water hole look for the careless, the injured, and the young. The zebra that constantly looks around, drinks swiftly and quickly rejoins the herd won’t become prey. The lions will go for those who won’t be too much trouble. So don’t look like prey! In parking garages, count the spaces from your car to the exit. In big box store lots, turn and pinpoint a landmark opposite your car, so when you return you won’t have that “lost lamb look”, fixated on finding your car while missing predators approaching you or hiding in ambush.
Criminologists have done studies of how felons choose prey. Felons are shown films of potential victims and then tell why they would or wouldn’t choose them as prey. The researcher has card with details of the folks on film. They watch a bent, old man painfully hobble away from an ATM, clutching a wad of bills. On his wrist is a hospital ID band. He stares fixedly at his car 20 yards away. All the felons agree that he is easy prey. Then they see a 60-year old at the same ATM, shoving his bills in a pocket, looking around him, yet purposefully striding for his car. The felons all agree that he is not a good target. The criminologist informs them that he is a retired Green Beret Sergeant. A 35-year old Mom has a toddler in tow, pushing a baby carriage, her purse laid on top. She’s lost her car looks frustrated, holding her keys high as she pushes the button. All felons agree that her purse and car keys will soon be theirs. The next 35-year old is about 5’3”, 120 pounds, in business attire. Her head is up, walking with clear purpose and a firm grip on the purse strap over her shoulder. The felons all reject her as prey. “Why?” asks the researcher. “She’s little.” “I don’t know, Man,” says one, “but you DO NOT want to mess with her!” The felons are then told she is a chief police investigator with 15 years’ experience and a Glock 19 in her purse.
So don’t look like prey! Pay attention to your surroundings. LISTEN to that “little voice” that tells you “Something’s not right!” Don’t be the distracted zebra at the water hole! Instead, look like a porcupine! Study, get trained, and get armed. Pepper spray is a non-lethal, stand-off weapon (range 8-10 feet) that works 98% of the time on humans and dogs. It’s a great equalizer for the elderly who can no longer do martial arts and keeps you from grappling with an attacker. Small flashlights (6 inches or so) of at least 100 lumens brightness will temporarily blind night attackers so you can run. Striking the forehead with its edges makes heavily bleeding cuts that distract muggers, and blood in their eyes can make them close them, again allowing you to escape. In conclusion, know that “IT” can happen, and get ready. The criminal always has the first move, your job is to see them coming so you can counter or run. Be alert and ready. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov. 13:20.)
Greg Hopkins is a recovering lawyer, city prosecutor, police Use-of-Force law instructor, former city judge in two towns and criminal defense lawyer. He’s been teaching the Bible to teens and adults for 40 years. He now trains CCP holders and armed church security teams in self defense law. He also does expert witnessing in firearms and self defense cases. His book is A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, on the Bible and self defense.