Depending on where I lived, situation awareness is a means of survival. If I lived in a bad neighborhood, I learned techniques to survive specifically to that hood. From what color to wear on which block to claw marks on trees. Paying attention to what’s going on around us is very important.
Usually around the holidays, there are a lot of news reports of people getting robbed while getting gas, eating at the restaurant, or shopping at a mall. A pilferer with sticky fingers or some thug doing a snatch and grab all depend on victims not being prepared or aware that they are up to no good.
The fact is, if someone really, really wanted to steal – they will. It is up to us to mitigate the opportunity. How can we make ourselves less of a target? For starters, lets take a lesson from the average street gang. One person does not make a gang, no matter how big and tough they are. There is better security in numbers. Walking alone through the parking lot with four kids under ten years old, does not count.
How do you check out the area? What time of day are you shopping? Is the parking lot well lit? Do you plan to stay at the store until closing? Are bags and packages visible in your car? What are you wearing? What kind of purse or handbag are you using?
As an African American man raised in the dirty south, I have seen people in their night club best ready to go Christmas shopping. So, what should you wear?
Regardless of your state, the season, time of day, or gender, you should always be aware of your surroundings.
First, let’s prepare to go out. There is the thing called the Grey Man Theory. In a nutshell, blend in with the culture and surrounding. Although, sometimes blending in can make you stick out. For example, a white male wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat in Bakersfield, California would be ignored. An African American wearing a cowboy hat and boots would get stares. The key is to find the majority of your minority and find a happy medium. I am a middle aged African American male and I am not wearing my pants around my butt to blend in.
Jeans and a button-down shirt will appropriately blend in. I personally like to wear my shirts untucked. An untucked shirt makes my pockets harder to pick. I make sure all of my shoes are comfortable. Whether I am walking for two
On the way to the mall I go to my regular gas station. I like going there because I have already scoped out the emergency shut off. Its well lit at night. Its in a good location. The gas station is well kept, and it has surveillance cameras. I have a few steps I use when I get gas.
Step one: I look at the little gas pump by the fuel gauge. It has an arrow pointing to the side the gas fill is on. That comes in handy when in a rental car or the rare occasion I am in my wife’s car.
Step two: I try to pull in close enough, so that only one person can fit in the area of my workstation.
Step three: I pop the gas door open before I step out the car. I open the drivers side door, then press the button to lock all the doors. I then manually unlock the driver’s door. This is to deter anyone from opening the passenger door and stealing my cell phone or any other valuables.
Step four: If possible, leave the driver’s door open and position yourself on the inside of the gas pump hose. This creates a mini barrier between you and potential danger. After fueling, I buckle up and head to the mall (the car doors lock automatically).
Pulling into the parking lot, there were no spots under a street light. I did manage to find a spot close enough to light to have illumination when the sun went down. The parking spot I chose could be seen from the department store door. I get out of the car, grab my backpack and lock the car door.
I always carry a small backpack with me. It is mostly empty. I have a small first aid kit, a bandana, a snack in case my blood sugar gets low, and a bottle of water. I call it my Get to My Car (GMC) bag. I have a Get Home Bag (GHB). Usually the stuff I buy at the mall fits in the bag. I hate the way the plastic handles dig into your hands. Situational awareness while in a crowded mall is tough. Are there people standing around aimlessly? Probably. Do they look like they are looking for an easy target or are they minding their