Safety in Elevators. Awareness & Reading Body Language Save the Day

This story was told to me by an executive when the topic of elevators and personal safety came up.

She states her daughter was riding in an elevator with her on the way to their room on the 5th floor of their hotel.  An ordinary-looking young man entered the elevator when it stopped on the second floor. The elevator doors opened again on the third floor at which time a young women boarded.

The executive said she got a bad vibe from the young man and woman but was not able to pinpoint why.  Her gut-feeling that something was amiss was intensified when she noticed these apparent strangers make very brief eye contact, as if communicating with one another.

The doors opened on the 5th floor; the young man and woman exited before the executive and her daughter. The young man went left and the young woman right, again looking as if they were not together.

The executive pulled her daughter back into the elevator just as the doors began to close. Her daughter looked confused by her mother’s actions until she explained.  The young man and woman were working as a team but entered the elevator on separate floors to camouflage this fact. The executive’s daughter was looking down at her Smartphone during the elevator ride and missed the subtle cues her mother noticed:  the incongruent body language, darting eyes and very brief eye contact.

Because her mother was paying attention, she connected the dots and understood these pre-crime indicators for what they were. This information led her to understand that the man and woman going in opposite directions upon exiting the elevator were not as they appeared.  On the surface, it looked like two people that did not know one another, but, in fact, it was two people setting up to position and trap the executive and her daughter in the quiet hallway.

Law enforcement reminds us that criminals are working more frequently as male/female teams, often to look like couples. This is because so many of us assume females are less inclined to engage in crime, especially violent crime and because a couple will draw less attention from law enforcement than a pair or group of young males.

Human beings are the most cunning predators of all.  Remember to “think outside the box” Not every situation is what it appears to be. An observant person will be able to pick up on subtle cues that something is amiss. Those that are not paying attention miss those critical moments in which a ruse may be seen for what it is and too often become victims of an avoidable crime.

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