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Executive Summary:

Your personal security is based on your life style, and personal decisions. The Risk Continuum will assist you in determining your risk for becoming the victim of a violent crime. Minor changes in your life style may have a major impact on whether or not you will become a violent crime victim. There are many risk factors that you should consider when trying to reduce your level of risk. Personal security techniques are not expensive and if practiced regularly may help to keep you safe.

Background:

From 1960 - 2011 Violent Crime in the United States Increased 493% while the population increased 174%.

FBI 2011 Crime Clock Statistics

One Murder every 36 minutes.

One Forcible Rape every 6.3 minutes.

One Robbery every 1.5 minutes.

One Aggravated Assault every 42 seconds.

One Burglary every 14.4 seconds.

One Larceny Theft every 5.1 seconds.

One Motor Vehicle Theft every 44.1 seconds.2

Risk Continuum:

Your risk to become the victim of a violent crime is directly related to your life style and personal decisions. Consider your risk level on a scale of 1 to 10. Are you low, medium, or high risk? When profiling violent crimes, the victim's risk and background are critical to understanding the crime. If you answer yes to most of the following questions, then you are at high risk to become the victim of a violent crime.

High Risk Behavior:

  1. Illegal drug use.
  2. Gang membership.
  3. Staying out late at night.
  4. Driving long distances alone.
  5. Associating with people with criminal records.
  6. Personal plate indicating you are female.
  7. Going to bars alone.
  8. Wearing suggestive clothing.
  9. Using suggestive E-Mail address.
  10. Facebook, or other social networking account with no privacy settings.
  11. Posting suggestive photos on line.
  12. Making contact with internet strangers.
  13. Giving personal information to strangers.
  14. Wearing expensive jewelry and flashing cash.
  15. Walking alone in dangerous areas.
  16. Keeping blinds and drapes open at night.

Personal Security Techniques:

  1. Dead bolts.
  2. Security system with central monitoring.
  3. Keep doors locked when you are home.
  4. Peep hole in front door.
  5. Do not open door for person(s)you do not know.
  6. Conceal Carry permit, mace, bear spray, wasp spray.
  7. Defensive training.
  8. If you are being followed, do not go home. Go to a police station, fire station, or public area where others are present.
  9. Do not enter home if breaking and entering suspected.
  10. If confronted, cooperate initially but look for a means of escape. Do not get into the perpetrator's vehicle.
  11. Keep car doors locked when driving.
  12. Walk in a confident manner.
  13. Be aware of your environment.
  14. If you feel uneasy, leave the area.
  15. Vary your routine, if possible.
  16. Have emergency plan for your home.
  17. Google your name every six months or so to see what the public can find.
  18. Your home area should look the same whether you are home or not.
  19. Keep cell phone nearby for easy access.
  20. You may have a weapon in your home even if you don't have a conceal carry permit. Learn how to use the weapon and practice several times per year.
  21. Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. It could save your life. Your body warns you of impending danger. Don't disregard these warnings.
  22. Use security settings on social media so that only certain people can access your background information.

Case Examples

  1. Young female who lives alone consistently keeps her blinds and drapes open at night so that two local "peeping toms" may watch her prepare for bed. One night, they are under the influence of alcohol and have a gun. They kick in the door and the victim is shot in the struggle.
  2. Middle aged female goes to local grocery to get milk at about 9:00 pm. She drives alone and notices two men driving slowly around the parking lot when she parks. She does not lock her vehicle. She obtains her groceries, returns to her vehicle, and starts to drive home. Almost immediately, she realizes there is someone else in her vehicle. The offender starts to stab the victim in the chest and she falls out of the driver's side door onto the street. A neighbor sees the victim and alerts authorities. Victim is taken to the hospital where her life is saved.
  3. A young female who lives alone, is approached by a stranger who asks if he can help carry her groceries to her apartment. She agrees and upon opening the door, the stranger forces her into the apartment where she is raped.
  4. A young female jogger is running in a rural isolated area. There are few cars. She is raped and killed by a person who is driving in the area.
  5. Young female with a license plate indicating she is female drives by herself on the interstate late at night. Her body is found in a river near the interstate. She has been raped and murdered.

How Do You React?

A well dressed man with a professional looking camera approaches you at the mall and asks for directions. Give directions. If he approaches you again, walk away and contact security.

A man approaches you in a mall parking lot and asks for a jump start for his vehicle which he claims is nearby. Tell him to contact mall security. Leave the area.

A man you do not know offers to help you carry your groceries from your car to your apartment. Decline.

A man with a cast on his arm drops the books he is carrying and asks you for help. Decline.

You hear a knock at the door but when you look through the peep hole, there is no one there. This happens again and then the door knob starts turning. Call 911. Obtain your weapon, take cover, and prepare to defend yourself. If you do not have a weapon, then use mace, or wasp spray. Search "Gunny and Glock - Wrong Girl" on You Tube and view. I do not recommend the technique of standing erect and pointing your weapon at the door. You should always take cover if an armed confrontation is imminent.

You (female) push button for elevator and single male is inside when door opens. Take the next elevator.

You are driving home and realize that you are being followed. Call 911, and drive to a police station, or other public area.

You arrive home and it appears that someone has broken into your residence. Call 911, leave the area. Do not go into your home.

You go to the grocery at night and observe two men in a car driving slowly around the parking lot. Leave.

A man with a knife or gun approaches you in a parking lot and tells you to get in his car. Flee the area. Moving targets are very difficult to hit.

A new neighbor asks you (female) to come to a party at his house. He appears overly friendly and compliments you on your appearance. Decline. If this behavior continues, tell him you are not interested and consider making a police report. Check stalking laws in your state.

Conclusion:

Personal security is based on your life style, personal decisions and engagement in activities considered high risk. Your Risk Continuum score will increase or decrease based on changes in high risk behavior. There are many personal security techniques that will help keep you safe. Using them will lower your risk to become the victim of a violent crime.

Disclaimer:

Information contained in this article is based on the education, background, training, and experience of the author. Conclusions and security techniques may not apply to every reader and you should do your own research to confirm information in this article or to obtain a more comprehensive view of personal security issues and techniques.

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Dan L. Vogel is a retired FBI Special Agent with 25 years of service. During his last 15 years with the FBI, he served as Coordinator, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime in the Oklahoma City office. 405-615-6877 dvogel1@cox.net

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