Be Vigilant!

When you were a kid your mom taught you a very important lesson about crossing streets. Do you remember what that was? My mother said you must ALWAYS look both was before crossing the street. Not one way, or not just the other way, but both ways. I guess in essence my mother was teaching me viligence. Watching out for on-coming cars. Don’t ever cross a street without looking both ways, and sometimes looking both ways more than once. How many of you do this out of habit now? Maybe because it was ingrained in you or maybe becuase when you got older you finally figured out the reason behind the warning.

Well, why should the other things we do on a daily basis be treated any differently? What kind of things? How about getting gas, walking up to an ATM, driving through an ATM, walking into a bank, walking up to a store entrance or back out to your car? How about the fast food drive through, the mall, your daily morning or evening walk or run, going to the gym, looking at real estate? Or how about when the exterminator or pizza delivery person comes to the door? And, even when you take your friends and families out to eat at a restaurant?

Whether you want to admit it or not you have a routine that you perform almost every single day. You may alter it depending on your tasks, your job, a vacation, etc., but in general you keep it the same. My friends, it’s time to shake things up!!!

For the Christain we are told to be “sober, be vilgilant, because our adversary the devil lurks around like a lion seeing whom he can sneak up on and devour”! The surfer is always warned to watch out for sharks who may also be surfing the waves looking for an easy prey. The ice fisherman is always told to test the ice and look for cracks to make sure it is not too thin. The avid hiker is warned to carry a GPS or a compass so he/she can keep track of where they are so they do not get lost. A pilot is taught to trust the horizon, not the instruments. A shooter is taught to ALWAYS know what is behind his/her target. And, a shepherd is taught to look for the wolf who likes to “blend” with the sheep.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

How do we as busy people do this, or incorporate these admonitions into our daily routines? Here are some ideas based on many of the things we just mentioned (as daily activities) above and how we MUST incorporate vigilence into these activities.

Let’s start with getting gas. First of all, I try to make sure that I take my wife’s vehicle to get gas so she does not have to. I’m not always successful, but I try. But experience kept me out of harm’s way in 2009. Late one night I responded to a server issue at our office downtown. When I finally left in the early morning hours, I realized I was practically out of gas and knew there was no way I could make it very far without stopping. I went across the street to the only place that was close enough, but they only had the pumps turned on… the store was not open. Many of these late night stations go to 1/4 power, including their lot lights, so it can be pretty dark. Through experience and habit I always get out of my vehicle, lock the doors and place the keys in my front pocket. Then, while gasing, I stand about 5-6 feet away from the rear driver’s side bumper. I do this for two reasons. First, so I can see in almost all directions around my vehicle and secondly, if something happens, I can use my vehicle as a shield, a defensive position, keeping my vehicle between me and a potential attacker. Sure enough, long story shortened dramatically, an attack was attempted but I had the upper hand because I saw it coming and time to plan my defense. Let’s just leave it by saying that I am alive today because my vigilence this particular night paid off!

When you stop at the gas station to get gas, get your gas and get going! Stay off the phone (no talking, no texting, no surfing!), lock your doors, if you are a woman, put your purse on the floorboard under your steering wheel. It is a known fact that bad guys look for easy targets. These are people who are distracted, people who have their car doors open (a lot easier to take your vehicle or your purse with your car door wide open), people who are chatting away about the terrible day they had at work or posting their latest fantastic purchase from their favorite store. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU, WHO IS NEAR YOU, WHAT THAT PERSON IS DOING, WHAT HE/SHE IS WEARING, IS THERE ANYONE WALKING OR STANDING CLOSE TO YOUR VEHICLE!

What about the fast food drive through? Seems harmless enough, right? Well, have you ever gotten stuck in the line at a Chic-Fil-A (if you just said no then you have never gone on a Saturday), what about McDonalds, or any popular fast food chain drive through? So, think about this… you drive up, place your order, but they are busy, there are one or two cars ahead of you and now a car or two hind you, and normally you pull up close to the bumper of the car ahead and the car behind pulls up close to your bumper, sound about right? What happens now? Oh yeah, your window may still be down, you are searching for your credit card or hunting for spare change, chatting with the people in your car or even talking on the phone while you are waiting your turn. But, why aren’t you consciously scoping out an escape route? You are saying, “oh bother, Scott has lost his mind! Why in the world would I need to do that?” Case in point… My friend Tammy and her family were coming back recently from a family outting. They were hungry so they decided to stop at the McDonalds and get some food for the family. Tammy’s husband placed the order and then pulled up. They were busy and now they had cars in front of them and cars behind them. Tammy, happened to be scanning her surrounds and caught a glimpse of a man in her side mirror, walking up to the vehicle. She looked behind her to the other side and saw there was another man coming up the driver side as well. She is a concealed carrier and calmly pulled “Emily” (yes, it is quite ok to name your favorite guns!) out of her purse and put it in her lap and told her husband to look in his mirror. As soon as he did two or three poilce cars arrived in the McDonalds’ parking lot with lights flashing and low and behold the two strangers bolted in the other direction. What could have happened if Tammy wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings? What should you do in ANY drive through? Know what is around you… is there a curb? Can your car or truck handle it if necessary? Is the drive through well lit? Are there a lot of bushes around? Don’t talk on the phone. Get your card or money out and watch your surroundings. Keep your windows up until time to pay and then again until it’s your turn to get your food! And, MAKE absolute certain that you DO NOT pull too close to the car in front of you. Leave enough room between you and them in case you need to make a quick getaway! If you carry, have it out and ready in case you need it.

Do you ever stop at your bank and go inside to make a desposit, withdrawal, etc.? As most people do, I am sure you may be thinking about your task. You get out of your car, walk up to the doors and go right in to the teller line. If you do this, change it. Have your deposit or withdrawl ready if at all possible. If you carry concealed, make sure your firearm is easy to get to. Before you walk in, scan the parking lot for suspicious vehicles and try to look inside. You certainly do not want to walk into an ongoing bank robbery! When you leave, before you ever get close to the door, put your money away. The worse thing you can do is have your cash or an envelope full of cash in your hand as you are walking out of the bank. When you get to the door, scan your surroundings again.. make sure no one is standing or walking around the outside doors of the bank. If they seem suspicious to you go back to a bank representative and tell them. If the bank has a security guard or a cop, they will send them out to check it out.

When you go to a restaurant do you choose your seating or do you allow the host or hostess to seat you where he/she wants? Three things I would recommend here. First, if the host/hostess seats you choose or request a booth or table that faces the front door. Do not sit with your back to the door. If you can watch the front door then you can be aware of anything happening that looks out of the ordinary. Secondly, before you sit down quickly scan and plan an exit route. Are there side doors, rear doors, doors by the carry out or bathrooms? And thirdly, this may not always be something that you can easily do, but I almost always do it in a fast food restaurant (if for some reason I eat in, which I rarely do), keep your sunglasses on (well, if it is daylight out, of course). If something happens or someone suspicious comes in they cannot tell if you are looking at them. FBI crime statistics show that in many cases people in stores, restaurants, banks, etc. are shot simply because the victim was looking at the attacker. If they cannot see your eyes, then they cannot tell you are watching them and prepared to take on the threat if necessary.

Have you recently been looking for real estate? You know, buying a new house or even looking to purchase a building or office space for a business. In 2012 there was a warning to realtors that violent crimes committed on real estate agents were on the rise. The article posted in the Realtormag.com stated that in 2011 there were 16 assaults and 7 murders committed on professional realtors throughout the country. You can read the entire article “HERE“, but the author also cited the following: “REALTORS® are targeted because they are crimes of opportunity, says Marcia Peot, a full time police officer and chief safety officer with StreetSafe, a mobile safety app. The rise in offenses also has to do with the economy putting more people into desperate financial situations.” So, to my realtor friends and those of you looking at real estate, same rule applies as previously stated… stay vigilent! Be aware of your surroundings… be aware of what could be hiding in the closets, attics and garages.

Finally, how do you answer the door when the exterminator, pizza delivery person or the UPS or mail carrier rings your door bell? If you have kids do they go running to the door and answer it? BIG MISTAKE!!! What about if they know grandma and grandpa are coming for a visit and we assume that is them ringing the door bell?! You go to the door, do NOT let your kids open that door! Are you expecting the exterminator? If not, send him away and tell them, through the door, that this time isn’t convenient and you will set up an appoinment! NEVER let anyone come to your home without an appointment. Don’t let a salesman talk his way into your home… “Oh, I was in the neighborhood and and thought you might need some new gutters!” Did you just order a pizza? Great… YOU go to the door and be prepared! Did you know that according to pizza.com (yes, there is such a website) there is not a day that goes by in which a pizza delivery person is not robbed?! In fact, as with realtors, pizza delivery robberies are on a dramtic climb! You can check out that article here at “Pizza Delivery Robberies On The Climb”. At my house I have three very vocal announcers. If they see someone walk by the house or walk up to the house they are immediately at the front door letting me know someone is there and announcing to the person on the other side of the door that they know he or she is there! And, every single time I answer my door, yes, I have a gun either in my hand or on my belt with my hand on it!

So, my friends, no matter what you are doing, where you are going, you have got to make certain in this day and age, that you are vigilent. Pay attention to your surroundings. Are there any changes around your house? Has anything been moved? When you are running or walking do you go the same direction every time? I know it’s hard to do sometimes, but when you are at the gas station or walking out of the bank or a store, STAY OFF YOUR PHONE! Coming out of the grocery store or SAM’s CLub? DO NOT have your keys out and ready and DO NOT open your automatic lift gate until you are right at your vehicle. You know the old axiom… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Look, some of these things my be silly to you now, especially if you are not a concealed carrier yet, but trust me, changing your habits and paying close attention to your surroundings at all times may one day save your life or the life of a friend or family member!

As always friends, stay focused!!!

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