Recently a friend that frequently reads my writing spoke to me about the plight of criminals and how considerations of their past could make it easier to avoid them or prevent their acts. I disagreed with her, arguing that such considerations may be overly ambitious and possibly a personal safety digression. I personally feel that the criminal subculture is very esoteric, and a normal person cannot fully understand violent offenders. Especially those who are habitual.
Writer William March may have put it best in his novel, “The Bad Seed,” when he said, “Good people are rarely suspicious and cannot imagine others doing things that they themselves are incapable of doing.” Allowing addictions, emotions, and sick, sociopathic, or psychological urges to lead to violence against others is inconceivable for most of us. So, for one who practices personal crime prevention, trying to understand what a criminal is going through or the reasoning behind their heinous acts is not necessary or feasible. Considering what they need to act however is very practical and all you need to ponder concerning the thought process of criminals.
Although they may not list them in the same manner, I have a theory that the average criminal feels the need to possess five basic elements to attempt a violent act. I hope that they are easily memorized as an acronym. They are Chance, Reason, Intent, Method, and Escape.
If a criminal never attacks, the crime never happens, so demolishing their opportunities is vital. Examples of failing to do this would be loading groceries into the trunk of your vehicle without checking your surroundings, taking a shortcut through secluded areas, or wearing movement-restricting clothing while alone in either of these scenarios. Such actions provide significant opportunity for violent offenders.
To you, me, and every other sensible law abiding normal person there probably are never reasons to attack someone. However, to criminals there are multiple reasons. Some of these reasons could be the improper storage of personal property, the obvious possession of something valuable, or body language that makes you appear vulnerable. Moreover, most criminals I have spoken with moments after their apprehension have led me to believe the main reason certain individuals were victimized was their lack of situational awareness. To combat this element, create reasons that outweigh the reasons criminals find to attack you. Increase your situational awareness, properly secure your belongings, never put yourself in a position in which you can be isolated, and never appear more vulnerable than others appear.
“Intent” is part of many criminal definitions. Think of an attack as algebraic equation with intent and the criminal as constants, and the victim as, “X,” the variable. Criminal x intent x “X” = attack
Your goal as a potential victim must be to make yourself no longer suitable as a variable. So, once again, take notice of your surroundings and try tactics I’ve listed in LLV’s crime and safety category.
An attacker has to have a means to facilitate his or her actions. You hear about it all the time on fictional television shows when they talk about the suspect’s “M.O.” which stands for Modus Operandi or Method of Operating. If you conduct yourself in a manner that does not allow a convenient means of assault, victimization is unlikely. Even if he or she has the chance and a reason but can’t figure out a way, they will more than likely be deterred. For example, I mentioned the loading of groceries earlier and I am by no means saying that you should try this. If you and a couple of friends are loading groceries into a vehicle in a dark parking lot without paying attention to your surroundings, a single attacker may see an opportunity and have a reason to take your cash, groceries, and vehicle but have no way of handling multiple victims alone.
Obviously, the attacker must see a way out after he or she victimizes someone. I personally don’t believe that someone who practices personal crime prevention can completely eliminate this element. Understand that an attacker may make an attempt even if there is not any great escape route, which is why it is important to eliminate the other elements as well. It’s all about the perception of an adequate escape. Even if a person was counting a huge wad of cash in the middle of a police station, there is a criminal desperate enough to think about making a quick snatch and running for the door. Although it may not be possible to completely eliminate this element as with others, you can however minimize it as much as possible. There are no guarantees but placing yourself in a position where attacking you would seem risky makes you seem less vulnerable. An example of this would be individuals were attacked in large casino parking garages during periods when the free valet service wasn’t full. With a closer proximity to security and the presence of more victims, it would be far more difficult to rob or carjack someone at the valet service and escape capture.
When practicing personal safety, avoid trying to delve too deeply into what criminals think and why they act. Simplify your prevention methods by robbing potential attackers of their basic needs.