Signs of a Potential Victim:
Defying the Hunt
By Meghan Gardner, Director of Guard Up, Inc.
of us have those occasional job related trips that take us out of the
area, whether that means the state or the country. We pack our bags
and leave to catch an early morning flight. Our mind is filled with
important details like our flight itinerary, the schedule for the day,
lunch with so-and-so, and all the possible variables that might interfere.
One variable we rarely consider, however, is an influence from "The
Other Side". This is that part of life that is beyond our own,
individual universe. It contains all those things we hear about on the
news, but rarely consider for long
because we don't live in that
kind of neighborhood or deal with those kinds of people.
Needless to say, it catches us by surprise when we put down our briefcase
only long enough to dig out our boarding pass and when we reach down
to retrieve it, our fingers grasp at air. Our stomach sinks and our
heart skips a beat as we realize that we've been robbed. Right there
in a crowded airport
in front of thousands of eyes that didn't
We're dumbfounded. We can't believe this. Why did this happen? Disbelief
makes way for anger which steps aside for terror as we realize that
our Daily Planner, Corporate Documents and even our Credit Cards were
in that briefcase. We wander around looking for Security. Our mind fills
with a new list of important details. Have to call the office and let
them know what happened. Got to cancel the credit cards. What about
a police report? Then our stomach sinks again when we hear the boarding
call for our flight.
Let's look at it from the viewpoint of the "Other Side" for
a moment. We are the predator. The airport is our hunting ground. The
prey are any who are oblivious to their surroundings and look like they
have something of value. We scan the masses until we find a likely candidate;
someone well dressed, traveling alone, and whose mind is otherwise occupied.
Spotting the perfect target, we position ourselves and then watch carefully
for the best moment to strike. We are patient. Timing is of the essence.
We wait. And wait. And
there. The target has opened wide. We walk
by and pluck up the prize without breaking stride. We move smoothly
into the flow of traffic, blending with those around us. It's a good
twenty seconds before our mark notices the missing briefcase. More than
How could this whole scenario have been prevented? Well, you might
not be able to stop it from occurring, but you can limit the chances
of it happening to YOU. The answer is simple: Don't be a desirable target.
The following are attributes of an easy victim:
1) You are unaware of your immediate environment and the people within
it. Examples: Reading a magazine at the bus stop, wearing headphones
while jogging, talking on the phone while driving.
2) Your posture and body language are submissive in appearance and
Examples: You smile when you are nervous, you don't make eye contact
with assertive people, you back away when confronted.
3) Your circumstances put you at a disadvantage.
Examples: Your arms are full with packages, you are injured or disabled,
your car is broken down.
4) Your actions result in your losing control of your possessions.
Examples: You put down your suitcases and walk a few steps away, you
hang your pocketbook on the back of the chair in a restaurant, or put
it on the floor, you try to carry many separate packages, or you leave
your briefcase, package or pocketbook on the seat of the car but leave
the window open while in city traffic.
Here are ways to address the above attributes:
1) Be aware.
Examples: Scan your environment, take notice of anything unusual and
make no assumptions about the safety of a situation.
2) Display confidence and assertiveness.
Examples: If confronted, make direct eye contact, establish personal
boundaries and stand firm.
3) Minimize your disadvantages. Maximize (1) and (2)
Examples: Use a shopping cart or ask for assistance from a trusted
individual. Be more aware and more assertive to make up for situations
that cannot be avoided.
4) Keep your possessions under your control.
Examples: Keep packages or suitcases between your legs when they are
on the ground or hold the straps, keep your pocketbook or package on
your lap or a briefcase between your legs when in a crowded restaurant,
consolidate your possessions (such as packages) to one or two bags or
into a suitcase or backpack, when driving in the city of traffic lock
the doors and put your purse on the floor under your legs if the passenger
window is open.
Remember the mindset from the "Other Side"? A predator always
looks for the easy prey. They know their environment. They are confident
in their skills. And they will always look for the advantage. Taking
on a victim who doesn't give up that advantage is a danger to their
success rate. So they would rather wait for someone less risky.
It doesn't take much to discourage a predator. But it does require
the dedication of a valuable resource
our mind. We can still run
through the list of things to accomplish for the day, our flight itinerary,
lunch with so-and-so. But lying just beneath the surface of this thought
process is a level of awareness and a simple, yet perceptible streak
of confidence. We are sending out the message loud and clear to the
predators: Find your lunch somewhere else.
Copyright 1999-2000 ASAP Seminars,
a Guard Up, Inc. company
Posted with permission of Meghan Gardner and Guard
About The Author:
Meghan Gardner is the CEO and Instructor Director for Guard Up, Inc.,
a company that offers programs to companies and organizations in martial
arts, Japanese fencing and swordsmanship (Kendo and Iaido), European
fencing, boxing and Street Defense. ASAP Seminars, a subsidiary of Guard
Up, provides assault prevention training to clients across the country.
Mrs. Gardner is also the founder of the American Martial Way Association,
a martial arts system based out of eastern Massachusetts. She has been
actively training and teaching in the arts and assault prevention (with
a specialty in Knife/Counter-Knife Techniques) for 18 years.