Thursday, March 5, 2009

Self Defense and Property Crime: A Hot Issue in Atlanta

Atlantans have become particularly worried about crime in recent months, due to a reported rise in property crimes and a number of brutal murders, including the February 10th killing of cancer researcher Dr. Eugenia Calle. While anecdotes from citizens give them impression that violent crime is on the rise, too, this is disputed by police statistics. Who’s right? For the purposes of this article the answer isn’t important, but one fact is indisputable: property crime and violent crime go hand in hand. In Dr. Calle’s case, it appears that her killer’s motive was money, as he took cash, jewelry and credit cards that he later used in a spending spree.

Preventing and protecting yourself from property crime is one of the fundamentals of self defense. Where do you start? The key is to understand how burglars, muggers and thieves pick their targets, and why they steal in the first place. Here are two landmarks that apply to a great many criminals:

Addiction: Drug addiction is one of the most common motives for serious property crimes. Addicts have trouble keeping jobs, have impaired decision making skills and have a regular need for substantial amounts of money to keep up their habits.

Impulsiveness: Despite movies that show us meticulous criminal capers, most thefts are decided on the spot when an opportunity arises, or out of a sudden impulse, combined with a memory of a likely target.

As a result, you can’t be sure that simply not resisting a theft will ensure your safety. Even though we associate the term “career criminal” with a cool, street-smart professional, the average example is a desperate drug addict who isn’t thinking things through rationally. I’m not saying this to get you to sympathize with him – I’m saying it because this is what makes him dangerous. If he decided he’s going to hit you with a hammer and take your wallet, that’s what he will do, even if you would have given it to him in the first place. That’s the mental “script” he’s thrown together to commit the crime.

In essence, there are two ways to protect yourself from property crimes, or at least keep them from escalating into a threat to your safety: prevention and response.

Prevention: These measures make it less likely you’ll be hit in the first place. Make sure your home’s exterior is brightly lit and you stick to a routine of locking your doors – and you have sturdy deadbolts. In terms of self defense products, home protection tools that send a message that your home is more trouble than it’s worth are highly recommended. These include alarms and door braces. Some thieves will give openings a test kick or shove; if your doors and windows don’t budge, or it looks like an alarm will go off, they may move on to easier pickings.

Response: If the crime proceeds despite your best efforts you need to keep it from transforming into a violent attack on you and your family. Obviously, escape if you can. Gun ownership is a personal choice with pros and cons; exercise your rights at your discretion, but do your research, and take an accredited safety course. As an alternative, you can buy a Taser Gun. The C-2 model is designed for personal protection. If you get a Taser or buy stun guns make sure you get familiar with drawing them quickly and store them safely.

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