Prepare for Violent Crime
Protecting Yourself Against Crime and Violence
by Chris Martenson
Note: This post deals with personal security, one of the most asked-for topics by this community. However, we realize it is a sensitive if not scary topic for some. The intent here is have an open and mature exploration of an important subject. Please respect the author’s efforts to do just that.
My wife and I live in Philadelphia on the “green line” between mostly-prosperous Center City and mostly-wasteland North Philadelphia. People are very aware of crime around here, as you might imagine, and many people have taken numerous steps to avoid becoming victims. That being said, I am still surprised on a nearly daily basis how unprepared and unaware some people are. (I’m a Police Sergeant, so I see many people who have been caught off guard by criminals. And that’s a very important first tip: If the criminal cannot catch you off guard and unprepared, he’s most likely going to pick a different victim. But that doesn’t account for intoxicated/drugged criminals, very inexperienced criminals, and professional criminals.)
A middle-aged woman who is our neighbor lived alone in a three-story rowhouse one block away from us. At about 10:00 pm one night, she was reading in bed in her second-floor front bedroom. Suddenly, there was a strange man she had never seen before standing in the doorway of her bedroom demanding money. Scared half to death, she pointed out her purse on her dresser. He went through it, took all her money and fled out the second floor rear bedroom window through which he had entered. Responding police were unable to find the perpetrator. Crime is an ever-present threat around here, yet this long-time resident was totally caught off guard. Even more amazing to me was how easy it would’ve been for her to have prevented this whole unnerving incident. She had a burglar alarm system, but she hadn’t armed it, even though she was going to sleep in a few minutes. She also left her rear second floor window unlocked, which enabled the burglar to climb in without making any noise after using her neighbor’s rear second floor deck to access it.
I don’t know the lady, but I’m thinking that before this event she had had a theoretical or abstract awareness of crime from hearing so much about it in the neighborhood and the media. You, too, may have such an abstract awareness that has not affected you on a gut level. She had an alarm system as a way of fending off attack (at home), but she obviously didn’t have the motivation to practice simple discipline to protect herself. In my experience, a person’s first time being victimized by a criminal is a real wake-up call. Depending on the person and the crime they are the victim of, the effect on the person may be life-changing and sometimes devastating. My neighbor was freaked out, as you would have been having gone through something like this. She was glad not to have been physically injured and glad the burglar took such a small amount of her valuables.