Santa isn't the only one
watching 'you'this time of year...
Since this time of year has an increase
of people at the malls, specialty stores and so forth;
it also brings out more seedy characters looking
for a quick/easy score.
'Watch out for them, cause they are watching you'.
So I would like to share with you some knowledge
on certain aspects of staying safe during
the crazy Holiday Season.
'Please' just read;
and even if it seems my suggestions are a bit over-the-top, or even common sense worthy,
it's always best to be safe with information
than sorry with regret.
Always remember the A, B, C's:
Always Be Cautious!
Criminals normally operate in groups of 3 or more;
the driver, the lookout, and the strong-arm.
The 'strong-arm' is usually the person who will make contact with 'the mark' (victim) by a threatening nature,
having 'the lookout' nearby for backup and observation.
And the well prepared ones,
have a 'getaway route/vehicle' on the ready.
The following 'suggestions' are tried and true:
1. Bring Santa's Helpers...
If at all possible, go shopping with a buddy;
the more the 'merrier'.
Safety is in numbers,
especially when thieves will be looking for an easy mark (someone by themselves)
to score some quick cash and/or easy merchandise
with the very least of resistance possible.
2. Enjoy your evenings, at home...
Ladies, please don't go shopping at night.
Most crimes are committed during the cover of darkness;
add a vulnerable woman walking a few
hundred yards to her vehicle,
hands full of packages/bags, talking on her cell-phone,
and not paying attention to her surroundings,
is a possibility of an unfortunate event.
If you must shop at night, use the buddy system,
valet, or some other suggestions below.
3. On-site Security is available...
Believe it or not,
Mall Security is not only for the general protection
of the Grounds and its Stores;
but to provide protection for all shoppers as well.
The average mall will have approximately 8-12 SO's (Security Officers) on shift at any given time,
even more so during the Holiday Shopping Season,
not to mention the patrol units in the parking areas.
So if you feel the need for an escort to your vehicle,
Security can assist you with that added protection.
Also; if the 'SO' is maybe 'a little older' than you feel comfortable with (or for any other reason),
ask the Security Dispatcher for the patrol unit
to shadow your escort,
which means they follow you for an
added bubble of protection.
DO NOT have security carry your packages,
that just diminishes the value of your escort.
They are there to ensure your safety,
not to be your personal assistant.
4. Discretion is a must...
When you plan on spending 'large' amounts of
money in a couple transactions,
it would be wise to use either your debit/credit cards,
or even a pre-loaded gift card/Visa/MasterCard.
Thieves will sometimes position themselves near
a cashiers area to spot a possible 'mark' using
an abnormal amount of cash,
and then target this person.
Also remember, even if you spend all your money,
what you have bought can be sold,
pawned or used by someone other than it was intended for. (ie: jewelry, watches, cameras, and even cell phones)
Other examples of targeting include;
your wardrobe, your jewelry, your demeanor,
your lack of attentiveness,
your packages and/or social standing.
(are you well known?)
Dressing in jeans, a t-shirt,
and comfortable walking shoes,
(and NOT wearing your $5000. watch/ring/necklace)
allows you to 'blend' within your environment.
5. STAY ALERT AT ALL TIMES...
Although you should always be 'on the clock';
here are some problem areas to be extra aware of,
DAY or NIGHT:
parking lots, stair-wells, elevators, bathrooms,
fitting rooms, while you are getting in & out of your vehicle, hallways, bus stops, your backseat of your vehicle,
and anywhere else that cuts you off from the public eye.
And always walk like you have a purpose.
Someone who presents themselves
as a confident individual,
is usually less likely to draw attention.
6. Keep the Holiday Cheer 'out'
of the mall...
It is generally a good idea 'not' to drink alcoholic beverages while spending large amounts of money.
(Las Vegas Casino's serve 'free' drinks for a reason)
If you have got your 'buzz-on';
it will hamper your judgments/decisions,
making you more vulnerable,
which could possibly encourage someone to take
something from you.
Also, instead of the 'pepper spray' in your purse/pocket (which at times will only anger an assailant),
it's suggested to carry an air-horn.
Not only will the sound be heard by others who may help, activating the horn near the ears of an attacker can
disable him/her immediately,
and cause temporary disorientation;
giving you a moment or two to get away.
7. a. Walk like you have a purpose...
In the event you believe you are being followed
and you are on foot,
do any or ALL of the following;
get within a crowd of people, stop and talk to a couple,
walk into the nearest store and proceed to the cashier
(a camera is there, a thief doesn't want his picture taken),
activate your air-horn so others notice you,
if you see law enforcement, make contact.
And NEVER do the following under any circumstances:
if you are being followed, 'do not' approach the suspect,
never try to lose someone by going into a restroom,
(as you have just cornered yourself).
Do not panic, EVER; believe it or not,
most thugs are just as scared of you as you are of them.
If you are in need of help never yell 'help',
And worse case scenario?
Drop all your bags if approached by a thief,
and run towards people,
immediately screaming fire or sounding your air-horn.
As soon as you drop your packages on the ground,
that will divert the attention of the assailant and give you precious moments to get away.
Your items are always replaceable,
'you' are not.
7. b. Drive safe... always.
If you are driving and believe you are being followed: staying on well lit and busy streets,
make 4 right turns in a row;
(circling a city block)
if the car is still behind you, don't panic.
While safely driving on a busy street,
call 911 and give dispatch your current location,
your direction of travel,
your car and if you can the other cars description.
If you see a police car,
try and get the officer's attention
(ie: honk, wave, flash your high beams... whatever).
If you know the location of a police/sub-station,
then drive there immediately.
And all the while,
make sure your windows are up and doors are locked.
And NEVER do the following under any circumstances:
again, do not approach the subject,
DO NOT GO HOME
(you really want this person to know where you live?)
do not speed, drive erratically,
or run red lights/stop signs to 'lose' anyone;
this isn't a movie, it's real life.
The Holiday Season is a joyous time;
it normally also brings a 'spike' of illegal activities,
so please be careful in everything you do.
The following stories are true
of people I've known,
or been associated with:
During the last week of the 'Holiday rush' in 1996 in the underground garage of the Fashion Show Mall
(which is located on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nv),
a 60yr old woman and two of her daughters in their 30's were carrying packages,
shopping bags and a set of golf clubs
when they got 'hit'.
Two men dressed in sweats and wearing baseball type caps were walking towards these ladies
as the women were approaching their vehicle.
The 'perps' (perpetrators) slugged the mother
and one of the daughters in the face.
Both women fell to the ground immediately,
surrounded by the gifts they were holding.
While the other daughter was trying to assist her
fallen family members,
she started yelling/screaming for help.
All the while,
the 'perps' started throwing all
the packages into the back of the truck that apparently
had been waiting nearby for the 'thugs' to find
their victims and attack.
While the unharmed daughter was kneeling on the
ground next to her mother
(who was unconscious with a broken nose)
and her sister
(who had a broken eye socket).
the truck drove away within seconds of this brutal attack, w/the 'hit-men' on board.
Taking everything that was purchased.
During the reporting of this incident to LV Metro,
it was noted that all three women recalled seeing both
these men in the mall quite a few times that day.
*These women were being followed the entire time by the 'perps' as they waited for the right moment to strike.
All three women were 'dressed for success',
carried Gucci bags, and displayed large amounts of cash
at the cash registers.
And when they exited the shopping area into the garage,
their hands were filled w/packages,
and they weren't paying attention to their surroundings.
(like all of us do 99% of the time)
They were easy 'marks'.
To my knowledge,
(as of the writing of this page 24 Nov 2011)
no arrest was ever made.
Both women recovered fully from their injuries,
but the 'scar' of this incident will be with them forever.
this next story doesn't end as well.
On 29 Nov 1991
(the day after Thanksgiving),
a young coed from the University of Nevada Reno was Christmas shopping at a Target.
As she came out of the store pushing
her cart filled w/gifts,
she had a 'walkman' on listening to music when a single male came running-up behind her pushing her to the ground and stoled her cart.
As he was running through the crowded parking lot,
this young lady gave chase,
while screaming for someone to help her.
The 'perp' got to his vehicle,
and as he was throwing her bags into his car,
the coed caught up to him only to be hit in the head
and thrown into the vehicle,
at which time he drove away.
Her body was discovered a few days later by a few young boys in an empty field approximately 5 miles from the Target where she had been abducted.
She had been sexually assaulted by at least 4 different males before they strangled her.
A few months later all 4 males were arrested after one of them was heard bragging in 'high school'
of this horrific event.
The motive for the theft was video games, movies,
and a skateboard.
The kidnapping/sexual assault/murder 'just happened'
as it was reported to the local news media.
The ages of the males were 16, 17 (2), and 19.
The max sentence was 7yrs in prison,
while the least was probation for the 16yr old.
As it couldn't be determined he was directly involved.
I realize these kind of tragic events happen
every day in the world,
it's just that this time of year brings out all the scumbags.
(and their friends & relatives)
Here is a great article on Internet Shopping:
no mater how you shop this year,
just be careful...
*THIS IS AN ORIGINAL COMPOSITION
Copyright © 2014 by Gregory A. KISS
All rights reserved.