HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM

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					                                   HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM
                                   By James Muirhead (retired NYPD Detective)



   Beginning with my being a NYPD Detective for 20 years, now retired and currently working as a New York
State Private Investigator, I feel that I have the knowledge and experience to share with you some valuable advice for
people on how you can and should take some responsibility for keeping yourselves safer; and for those of you who want to
learn more about preventing yourselves from being a victim of crime, in this day and age.

   As a detective in one of the busiest and largest cities in the world, New York City, I have come across thousands of
victims; many were unable to avoid their fate no matter what they did. There was a large group that would have been able
to prevent themselves from becoming victims by following these simple rules. ….

    Following is some advice you can use to minimize your risk in becoming a VICTIM of a CRIME. Much of this advice
is basic common sense! In this forum I will address some of the issues and how to handle them, along with some examples
for you! As I go along, you may realize and tell yourself, “I knew that!” Yes, you may then recognize what makes sense
when it is pointed out, however, are you really doing it in your daily life? Are you making a conscious effort in making and
keeping yourself aware, paying attention, and listening to your own „gut instinct?‟ If you don‟t, then you need to learn
what to do and put it into practice, make it „second nature,‟ or natural for you to do. The more comfortable and natural it
feels for you to do, the more it will aid you in how not to be a victim!

   Let me start with, be aware of your surroundings. It takes very little to be observant. While leaving, while on your
way and while arriving at your destination i.e. home, office, restaurant, events, etc., take notice of who and what is
around you! The main advantage a criminal has on you is the element of surprise!

   If you look like a victim there is a greater chance that in fact, you will become a victim. To clarify this, the „bad guy‟
does his homework on body language. He knows for every person that is aware of their surroundings, there will be several
people following that are not paying attention to what and who is around them, and he will target those individuals,
which are now the prime candidates to be one of his victims. Who do you think he will go after? Could you be his next
victim?

   You look like a victim when you are oblivious to your surroundings; i.e. you are always looking down instead of looking
forward and around you while walking; if you are too focused on talking on your cell while walking; if you appear lost
and overwhelmed; if you are tipsy and/or drunk; and if you appear timid instead of confident in what you are doing, or
where you are walking. Remember; do not confuse CONFIDENCE with ARROGANCE! Being arrogant can sometimes
get you into more trouble then being timid. Use a glance, do not stare him down! Being or appearing arrogant can bring on
a confrontation with the „bad guy‟ because of egos. If you carry yourself with some confidence, it can reduce your chances
and the percentage of being a victim. Even, if someone isn‟t really confident they should, at least, portray themselves as
confident and be aware of their surroundings, to aid in their own safety, especially when they are walking, and/ or
traveling, alone!

   I often see many prime victims in the heart of NYC. For example, if you just stand in front of the Waldorf-Astoria at 5
p.m. on any given day you will see 90% if not higher of the women who walk by are looking down at the ground. When
I‟ve asked people that I know who consider themselves street smart, why they do so, they respond with, “That was to
avoid conversation.” So I explain to them, that they can still keep their head up, glance at those around, but that they
should just continue to walk at a quick pace and that too will help avoid conversation. I‟ve also asked if they could
identify anyone that they‟ve walked passed or who has passed by them? Usually they reply, “no.” And I often come back
with a response such as, “You might have been able to identify their sneakers!” Most of the time they, then, get my point!
There is nothing more frustrating to many detectives then a victim saying I didn‟t see his face and I can‟t I.D. him. In the
event of a crime, often, unless someone else comes forward for the most part, the criminal has gotten away with the crime.
   For the most part, I tell people not to put yourself in compromising situations, which I know is at times, easier said
then done. Although, if you find yourself in a unavoidable situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, or ill at ease, I
have some information and advice on better ways to handle the situation, by being prepared and ready to react
appropriately!




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    One example, of an unavoidable situation is that you are in your office building later then usual and you are going to
leave and are waiting to take the elevator, when the door of the elevator opens there is an unknown lone male inside.
Often a person will go ahead and get on the elevator even when she (he) gets an uneasy feeling. She (he) may think that
don‟t want to show fear to themselves or others; that they feel silly and embarrassed, or they feel they are „just being
paranoid‟ and „overreacting,‟ however, those are times when a crime can be and has been committed. However, you are
better off to think and to know that you are much better off being „safe then sorry!‟ The better option really, in a case like
this, is to be preventative! To think of your safety first! So you should always be prepared for and be thinking that if, or
when, a scene such as this occurs, you act as if you‟ve forgotten something, don‟t get on the elevator and walk away,
letting the elevator go on without you. Wait a bit, and then try again! It will not change your schedule that much, but it
is a means to keep you safer, just in case! More often then not, the man will not be on there the next time the door opens.
However, if the same man is on the next time and he appears to be riding the elevator for no apparent reason then, DO
NOT get in the elevator and do go back to your office, locking doors and phone security or call 911. You will not be the
first person to call Police about a suspicious individual; in fact you could very well be stopping a crime and you being a
victim. I responded to many suspicious calls and I can‟t ever remember being annoyed at the person who called, if in fact
they identified themselves.

   Another example of being prepared and looking out for safer options is to park near the elevator or stairs if using a
parking garage while at work or the office. If you weren‟t able to find a space close to one of these, then I advise you to
try to move your vehicle to a better space closer to one or the other, during a break or at lunchtime. However, just by being
closer to the elevator or stairs does not mean you should be less aware or less prepared of your surroundings. Still be
prepared when you are going to your vehicle. Have your keys out, don‟t be fumbling with your pocketbook (purse), look in
the windows to check the rear seats and/or back cargo area prior to entering your vehicle. Some people have been able to
get into cars and will re-lock the doors, leaving you unsuspecting. If you have mace, or another personal protection device,
have it out and don‟t put it away until you have entered the vehicle and are pulling out. In this day and age, many people
do carry mace or some other protection with them, however, when you ask them where it is they will tell you it‟s in my
purse or my pocket. My reply is always the same, “Are you going to ask him for a timeout, so that you can take it out and
spray him?” I don‟t think he will give you the time!
In addition, you should manually lock your doors. I know that many car doors automatically lock today, so the tendency is
to think they will lock on their own. One problem with that thinking is that the doors don‟t lock, until the vehicle is
moving at 5-15 mph. So lock them even before putting your key in the ignition.

   A lonely street is another example or situation that can be problematic, and that you should take into
Account while looking out for your own safety. You should have your mace with you, in your hands and ready to use if
need be, for one. Also, if you find yourself walking down one and sense someone following or see someone coming towards
you, crossing the street can be and is another preventative measure which just adds a few steps to your walking, but may
well be what helps you stay safe. One more measure you can use is to enter 911 on your cell phone ready to push send, if
need be, as a call for help. Today, many of the newer phones are equipped with a GPS chip, so the call can be located and
even the phone can be tracked.
   In all of the above scenarios (yes you probably will find yourself in one of them at one time or another) so BE
PREPARED TO REACT!!!! Let me explain what I mean as far as reacting. Self defense courses and martial arts are
great, and yes, I believe in them very much, however, the drawback is you have to be trained in them. If it‟s a passing
fancy and you take just a couple of classes, or if you think that several initial classes will make you an expert that isn‟t the
case. I had a drill instructor who told us, “We taught you just enough martial arts to get you hurt, so don‟t go downtown
and confront everyone!” Many people are equipped with various protective devices (i.e. MACE, loud alarms, whistles,
lighted key chains, pepper spray, etc.) this is your way of preparing to react. Just have them available and ready. BETTER
SAFE THAN SORRY!


   Another situation I‟ve come across, which could be entitled, “you can‟t tell a book by it‟s cover,” was when a well
dressed man in a suit confronted a lone female in a mall parking lot and told her that his car wouldn‟t start, asking if she
help him by using her vehicle to help jump his car. She didn‟t have any jumper cables, but he assured her that he always
traveled with them and that he only needed a short ride to his car and the use of her car to start his. Seeing that he was a
middle aged, well dressed business type, she agreed. Mistake # 1! When she pulled up the man got out of the vehicle, and
he opened the trunk of his car, however, she began to get suspicious, so she went with her instincts and stated that she had
to go back into the store to get something for her husband which she forgot, turned off the car and returned quickly into
the mall. When inside she called security. A check of the vehicle revealed that in the trunk of his car were gloves, duct
tape, rope and a knife. This was a very lucky lady! So remember no matter how they are dressed they can still be a „bad



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guy.‟ This is another reason that demonstrates you should ALWAYS GO WITH YOUR GUT FEELING! It‟s always
better to be safe then sorry!
   I know that many women tell their children not to go with any man that they don‟t know when he tells them that „his
cute little dog is lost,‟ yet, there are many of you as adults, who may feel that you can handle things well enough, however,
don‟t you fall for these games, yourselves! Heed your own advice!

   In every city, big or small, there are locations and neighborhoods that even the people who live there don‟t venture out
at night. Unless you have particular business in those areas, the best thing you can do is to stay clear of those areas,
especially, if you are alone. However, if you feel you must go, then be aware and prepared! This is some of the advice,
examples and ideas of protection devices useful aiding you, so you won‟t become a victim!


   The author of this article is a Retired NYC Detective and New York PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR who
has 2 websites with PERSONAL PROTECTION and COVERT CAMERAS. They are
www.safetyandsecurityplus.net and www.spyzonesupply.net. Please feel free to call him at 1-843-655-
8309.




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