Dealing With Predators
About 5 years ago, a very good friend of mine was gardening in her front yard on a quiet Sunday afternoon. She was in her mid 50′s at the time and living alone at the house in a very quiet, well established neighborhood. A man driving by parked his car in front of her house and approached with a smile on his face and asked her if she could assist him. He was wearing slacks with a shirt and tie and was a very clean cut white male in his 40’s. He politely introduced himself and explained that he lived a few streets down (in the same neighborhood) and that his pregnant wife had just run out of gas in her car. He said he was a little embarrassed but he had locked himself out of his house without his wallet and only had his driver’s license with him. He mentioned that they were driving home from church and that he was a good Christian man and would gladly repay her if he could borrow $10 and use her telephone. To show that he was a good person, he even handed her his driver’s license and told her that she could keep it until he returned back with the money to repay her.
I think most people would look at the above story and setting and not really feel threatened. My friend can’t explain why, but she just felt a bad vibe about the person and while talking to the man in the front yard, she suddenly said, “Sure, I think my husband or brother has some cash and they are both inside the house so I will go get them”. She walked inside her house and locked the door. She was home all alone and had mentioned the other men being at the house as a ploy. She still had the man’s driver’s license, but by the time she arrived to her bedroom to peek outside the window, the man had already left in his car. Other than feeling the uneasiness of a bad vibe, she never really thought much about the situation, except for wondering why the man never returned to get his driver’s license, especially since he claimed to live right down the street.
Fast forward five years.
I was speaking with my friend and the conversation turned to my work and how predators often stalk their victims and use ruses to get close to them. Suddenly, she remembered the above story and said she believed that she still had the man’s driver’s license. She went and dug it out of a drawer where it was paper clipped to a small note with the date that the man had left the license with her. I asked her if I could see it. About three days later, I found the individual on a public database showing he was incarcerated at Dallas County Jail. Because I felt he was possibly a seasoned sexual predator, I looked further into the situation. After some research, I learned that on the same day that this subject had visited my friend, he had committed (and was later apprehended and convicted) an Aggravated Kidnapping, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Attempted Murder of a female who lived in a close by neighborhood.
I urge everyone reading this to pay close attention anytime a stranger approaches you asking for anything. There are times when the request will be legitimate, but what would you tell your kids to do if a stranger approached them? Just like our children do not have the experience and understanding when dealing with these types of situations, I would venture to guess that the common citizen also has no understanding of the types of ruses and trickery that bad people use to do bad things to good people. Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to pay attention to when interacting or being approached by a stranger.
The Approach: The approach will be as non-threatening as possible. Look at the story above. It occurred on a Sunday afternoon in a neighborhood where you would not expect criminal behavior. The subject was out looking for targets of opportunity and had probably learned from prior behavior that women doing yard work alone were possibly single or alone.
Physical Appearance: Can really be anything in any environment, but a seasoned predator dresses to match his environment and story. The subject above stated he had been to church, it was on a Sunday and he was clean-cut and wearing dress clothes. Most people would accept him at face value based on his appearance alone.
Believable Story: The predator will always have a story in place that has been predesigned to short circuit any questions the average person might ask. They have played out scenarios ahead of time and try to address any questions that you might ask before you have a chance to ask them. Does the person’s story sound rehearsed or illogical? Are there too many convenient details that take your focus off the risk in complying with their request?
The Request: A predator is always going to ask you to do something for them. They want you to take some action and the particular action they ask will be to put you at a small risk. Their whole story, outfit, props, etc. will be carefully organized to make the story more believable so that following through with their request will be easier for you to do. The most common things they will ask for are money, to use a phone, restroom or to have you drive them somewhere.
Props: Just like the story being well organized, the predator understands that having props will make his story more believable. In the above story, some of the props used where: Dress clothing, a driver’s license, a pregnant wife, polite behavior and the idea of religion to earn his standing as a good person.
So how should you respond to these types of people? I am going to try to be sensitive and tell you that yes, some people are down on their luck and need help, and there are safe ways to do that. I donate all my old clothing and charitable items to a mission that helps homeless and indigent people. This insures people are getting the help they need without placing me at risk. I help people on my terms, not theirs. That’s my rule and I would encourage you apply this type of thinking to your daily lifestyle as well.
I have seen evil from human beings that you don’t want to know about. I have witnessed veterans in my industry pass out from just watching videos of what violent people will do to you, so just like you would tell your children (those little guys and girls that you would do anything to protect) to avoid ALL strangers, I am going to recommend you to do the same. Just don’t take the chance of putting yourself or your loved ones in a really bad spot.
How do I react? If I get approached at gas stations or parking lot, I always watch people and take control of the conversation from the get go. The moment someone approaches me, I tell them respectfully yet directly, something, like:
“Hey man, I don’t have any money on me or anyway to help you. Good look at finding what you need.”
“No thank you, I am not interested.” (As I walk away or ignore them)
Criminals recognize those who are savvy to their techniques and as long as you are respectful, they will usually just move on to the next person.
Be safe out there and have a plan to circumvent predators from engaging with you. The sooner you send them on their way, the safer you and your family will be.