KC: Do you have any tips to prevent becoming a target?
JD: Here's a laundry list: Don’t flash large sums of money in stores. Don’t wear large or conspicuous pieces of jewelry. Be alert to who is around you or who may be paying special attention to you. Park in well-lighted areas. Scan the area before you leave the store. Look for suspicious persons as you walk to your car. Lock your doors the instant you get in the car. Take a look at your surroundings before exiting your car. Disable the automatic unlock when you put the car in park. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. I tell people to “trust your gut,” because that little feeling is your primal fear instinct trying to warn you of a predator.
Here's a personal story about your primal instinct. Back in the late 1970s, I was working as a Killeen Police Officer. My wife was at home one afternoon with my infant son. There was a knock on the door. Without looking, she opened the door. Standing in the door was a stranger, in a dark shirt and tattoos. She told me later, that the instant she opened the door she knew had made a mistake. The guy looked over her shoulder and down the hall, and in a slightly eerie tone asked her, “So, is your husband home?”
My wife was scared bad right then. Her primal instinct was warning her. Fortunately, Cruiser, my 70-pound mutt, went right through the door and latched onto the guy's thigh, drawing blood. The man ran off. My wife was lucky. She could have been raped and strangled, and to this day believes Cruiser saved her life. Let me add something else. I NEVER took a burglary report at a house where there was a big dog.KC: What do we do if we're approached in a parking lot?
JD: Start walking the other way. If pursued, scream. If caught, fight.KC: Do you ever get in the car with an abductor, or is it always better to take your chances and run/scream.
JD: I will tell you what I tell my wife, my sisters, and my daughter: If you get in a car you are as good as dead, so you might as well fight for your life right then and there.If you fight, people might see you and come to your aid. There might even be a concealed license handgun holder nearby. Even if no one helps, they will probably call 9-1-1. Yes, fight, even if he has a gun. Ninety-seven percent of people shot in combat, with heavier weapons than you encounter in a parking lot, survive. Basically, even if you are shot, you have a good chance of surviving. Don’t panic just because you are bleeding. You would be amazed at how much blood you have to lose before you even pass out, let alone die. Your best defense is a survival mindset that no matter what: I’m not getting in the car, and I AM NOT DYING! KC: What if the guy has a gun? Does that change your response? JD: No. But let me clarify, it's one thing if someone walks up to you, points a gun and says, "Give me your money." Statistically, you're way better off handing over your wallet or purse. Or if they want it, let them take your car. Don’t confuse a robbery with someone trying to force you into a car. They have mayhem on their mind.
KC: What's the biggest mistake people make when confronted by someone who means them harm?
JD: They underestimate the danger.
KC: What dowe tell our kids to help keep them safe? JD: Same thing they told us when we were kids. Stick together, stay away from strangers, and don’t get in a strange car. Teach kids how child predators try to trick them. Tell them to scream if someone tries to grab them.
KC: What's the smartest thing you ever saw a potential victim do to prevent a crime? JD: A woman was driving home late one night. A truck hit her in the back of her car. BEFORE getting out to check, she called her husband and told him that she was just involved in an accident. It occurred right at the entrance to the subdivision. He jumped in his car and was there in two minutes. Just in time to see the truck drive off, and someone drive off in his car. Unknown to him, his wife had just been abducted and was being held in the truck, while the other crook was driving off in her car. The husband had a split second to decide, and he made the right decision: He chased the truck.
JD: A woman was driving home late one night. A truck hit her in the back of her car. BEFORE getting out to check, she called her husband and told him that she was just involved in an accident. It occurred right at the entrance to the subdivision. He jumped in his car and was there in two minutes. Just in time to see the truck drive off, and someone drive off in his car. Unknown to him, his wife had just been abducted and was being held in the truck, while the other crook was driving off in her car. The husband had a split second to decide, and he made the right decision: He chased the truck.In the meantime, the wife started fighting and actually bit the crook’s little finger off. He crashed the truck and was captured, and is currently serving life in prison. There's no doubt in my mind that if this woman hadn't called her husband and fought, she would have been raped and murdered, and maybe even burned up in her car.Let me address this, if someone hits your car and you don’t like the area or who did it, crack your window and tell them you’ll pull into a parking lot where there are other people. If the person drives off, get their license. You can fix a car, but you can’t restore a life. While not a common technique to abduct or rob, it has happened. One more thing: police impostors. If a car is unmarked but used for traffic, it will have tax exempt license plates. If it doesn’t, don’t run but don’t stop until a marked car arrives. If the person really is the police, there will be plenty of patrol cars soon enough. But use common sense. We're not talking about an unmarked car running radar on the freeway. We’re talking about the guy who tries to stop you on a dark road. KC: Do we worry too much about crime? JD: Yes. We do worry too much. The media is lazy. It is far easier to pay a “stringer” $100 a story to run calls off the police radio, than actually have a news department that does real journalism. I used to call the 5 a.m. news the carnage report, because all it is was the overnight shootings, fires, and car crashes. Is it any wonder Wall Street was robbing the country blind while the news was reporting on the Lacy Petersen murder or Brittany’s breakdown?But in reality, your chances of being a victim of violent crime are pretty slim. Most people who get murdered are involved in illegal activity, or living a lifestyle that invites trouble. If you're not selling dope or sleeping with someone else’s spouse, or shooting pool in bar a 1:00 a.m., you probably won’t get killed. When you consider the victims of violent crime per capita, you understand that you truly are fairly safe.