Tis the Season…
For the vast majority of Americans, the time between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s is a period that is consumed with shopping, traveling, spending time with family and attending parties with friends. For most of us, we are intent on spreading goodwill to our fellow man. Even if you do not celebrate the traditional Christmas Season…there is no denying that overall, it is an uplifting time of year for most people.
However, this is also a time of year when the predators of society choose to hunt in what they perceive to be a “target rich environment.” In other words, with more people out shopping and traveling, they see more opportunity to prey upon the weaker among us. Unfortunately, crimes of opportunity “spike” during this time of year due to a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons we can consciously avoid.
It helps to first recognize the situations that we can inadvertently place ourselves in that may cause us to be targeted for violent crime. If we can identify those situations, we can then try to avoid them. Having said that, it is important to remember that while we can minimize our vulnerabilities…we can never fully eliminate them.
Targets of Opportunity…
So, what does a “target of opportunity,” look like to a two-legged predator? It actually depends on what the predator is hunting for. If they are focused on scoring cash or items that can easily be turned into cash…they look for “wealth factors.” This could be expensive jewelry, purses and clothes or people exiting high-end luxury automobiles. Sometimes, it is the locale that is the determining factor of who is targeted. Exclusive eateries or nightclubs are many times prime stalking grounds.
If they are interested in far sinister intentions than simply robbing someone, then other factors come into play. Becoming a target can literally be determined by one’s hair color or the type of ring-tone audible on their phone! Violent criminals live by a completely different set of mores and societal rules. Many times, there is literally no logical reason why a particular person was targeted other than they were…next in line.
Below is a brief list of characteristics that incarceration surveys have uncovered, that reflects a level of greater commonality in identifying targets of opportunity for violent criminals;
- Expensive jewelry, clothing, accessories (purses, phones, etc.) overtly identifiable.
- Behaving intoxicated or obviously unaware of their surroundings.
- Being alone, isolated or lost.
- Physically unimpressive regarding being able to defend themselves.
- “Flashing,” cash in an overt manner.
- Walking through a predetermined “ambush site.”
While most of the above characteristics can consciously be avoided…some cannot. Yes, you can tone down the amount of jewelry you are wearing and judiciously keep your cash from prying eyes. You can remain vigilante when out of your home and you can choose not to drink to a point of intoxication. You can travel with groups of people and not alone.
You can even work to increase your physical strength and agility. Yet, you may not realize when you are walking through a predetermined “ambush site,” chosen by an assailant in waiting. Hence, it is important to try and also neutralize (as much as possible) randomly being chosen as the target of a violent assault.
Luck…has nothing to do with it!
There are a few things you can do to minimize the chances that you place yourself in such a precarious situation. While you can never completely guarantee your safety…you can tilt the odds in your favor;
- If driving to a location that offers valet parking, use it if it means you are closer to the entrance and safer when leaving.
- If you are using a service like Uber or Lyft, insist that they drop you at the location contracted for and not “close” to save time or convenience.
- Use the “buddy system,” when in public. This means even when visiting the lavatory. Never isolate yourself or walk alone.
- Make sure you always communicate your exact route of travel to a trusted friend or family member and then never deviate from that route.
- Use Social Media platforms or internet search engines to research the crime rates, surrounding locations you are unfamiliar with but plan on visiting. Even restaurants and night clubs should be checked out before you head that way.
- Carry defensive tools that you know how to deploy and are always at (or in) hand. This may include flashlights, pepper spray or ideally your Yellow Jacket Smartphone Stun Gun Case.
Remember, you never want to rely on sheer luck regarding your safety. In fact, luck truly has nothing to do with it. Be alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Take common sense precautions and keep in mind that it Tis the Season…for good and bad will.