The days are getting shorter and with the holiday shopping season upon us, we will head to the mall to purchase gifts for our friends and loved ones. Others make their way there too, but with a far different agenda. Even in good economic times, it is well known that criminals see high concentrations of distracted shoppers in mall settings as easy targets.
Most of us multitask, walk to and from our vehicles “heads down”, often chatting on the cell phone, listening to the iPod or merely daydreaming, an oblivious state of mind often referred to as “Condition White”. For criminals, victimizing shoppers in “Condition White” is like “shooting fish in a barrel”.
Harder targets tend to operate in what has been described as “Condition Yellow”, a frame of mind in which you are relaxed yet aware of your surroundings and employ sound strategy.
People in “Condition Yellow”:
- Walk with their heads up, shoulders back and scan their surroundings making them more difficult to surprise.
- Dress down, blend in and wear comfortable footwear that allows them to move quickly.
- Always know what is going on in the blind spot behind them.
- Back into their parking space allowing for a rapid egress if necessary
- Remain aware of who is around them while shopping and remember to scan the upper balconies from time to time knowing criminals often do their surveillance from the high ground.
- Are good at reading body language and do not deem their instincts as silly or irrational if they get a “bad vibe” from somebody. They will remain in a well lit, busy area until they are certain that the threat no longer exists or help arrives.
- Carry very little, allowing them to rapidly bring their hands to bear to protect themselves.
- Ask security to escort them to their vehicle if they feel uncomfortable.
- Do not draw cash from mall ATMs knowing this attract unwanted attention.
- Carry bags with the strap over one shoulder and not across their body so the strap cannot be used as a convenient “handle” by which to grab and control with.
- Look inside and underneath their vehicles before unlocking and loading packages. (A small flashlight always comes in handy.)
- Do not turn their back on the world as they load their vehicle.
- Lock their vehicles even for the brief time it will take to return the shopping cart.
- Ignore handbills placed on the windshield knowing this could be a set up.
- Once in their vehicles, lock doors and drive away immediately.
- Are weary of panel vans or utility vehicles parked on the driver’s side or near their vehicles. It is easy to be pulled through the sliding door of a van.
- Make sure they have not been followed from the mall by paying attention to the vehicles around or behind them.
Dial up your “Condition Yellow” and enjoy your holiday shopping.