You've probably heard about the Little Rock, Arkansas, realtor, Beverly Carter who was murdered. It has led, around here, to stories and comments about the dangers realtors face. That's understandable. My wife worked in real estate for a short time, long before cell phones. So many realtors are women, and it always seemed to me that there would be some risk involved.
We pray for Mrs. Carter's family. It is a devastating and tragic loss. We're not going to blame the victim. It was the result of a cruel, wicked, selfish, inhuman act by a parasite, a worthless career criminal.
We do hope, though, that people will be motivated to think about what happened to Mrs. Carter and make an effort to better protect themselves and their loved ones.
First, let's focus on the perpetrator who has admitted that he went after Mrs. Carter because she was a "rich broker", a woman who "worked alone", and, therefore, an easier and more convenient target for a predator.
I may have related this story before because it is so different than the myth. I used to spend a lot of time with convicts. If you are sitting or standing around with a bunch of guys, it doesn't matter who they are, you get to talking. One boy was talking about stealing cars -- which was not what he was busted and serving time for. In the course of the conversation, I asked how difficult it was to hotwire a car. He said, "I don't know. I only stole the ones with the keys in them."
A predator is not looking for a challenge. It's like the old joke about outrunning a grizzly bear -- you don't have to -- just make sure you can outrun at least one of the guys with you. The harder you can make it for a criminal to take advantage of you, the less likely it is that you will be a victim. That's practically a truism. I'd even go so far as to say that the harder you make it look, the less likely you are be victimized. Criminals aren't psychic -- most aren't terribly intelligent, but they are often experienced in reading people and situations. They have nothing better to do, in most cases, than watch and wait for the best opportunity.
When you get out of your vehicle at the store or even at the gas station, make a habit of pulling your keys out of the ignition and putting them in your pocket. Christmas is coming. You are going to be carrying bags and packages out of stores and the mall. Don't overload yourself. Pay attention to the people around you. Have a place to hide your stuff in the car.
My wife sometimes leaves her purse in our rig. We always have a cooler in the back seat of the truck, and I have her put it in there. Maybe someday a guy who is desperate for a beer will break my window. Nothing is perfect. Just don't make their decision easy.
If you notice someone watching you, sometimes it is a good idea to make eye contact. This is debatable. I've had New Yorkers tell me that is a good way to start a fight where they are from. I would not recommend staring at strangers in New York or any place else. On the other hand, if I am alert and aware of what is going on around me, as I should be, if I observe someone observing me, there is probably a reason for it. Perhaps they know me. Perhaps, me being remarkably average, I look like someone they know. Perhaps they've just never seen anybody quite so hard-looking. Or, their motive may be more sinister. In any of those cases, looking back at them to let them know you are not oblivious is appropriate.
In crowds, carry your wallet somewhere other than your hip pocket. On the other hand, I would rather see my wife lose her purse than have her choked or dragged down and bounced off the concrete because she had the strap over her head. If I'm with her, I don't have to worry because I end up carrying the stupid thing most of the time. Women should carry their phone, cards, and license in a pocket and just let the thief have the hair spray, mousse, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, powder, silly putty, wood filler, perfume, hand sanitizer, wipes, tissues, combs, brushes, and lead bars in the bag.
Shoot, it would be another excuse to go shopping.
Don't rid yourself of a measure of healthy cynicism. Not everybody is nice or trustworthy or truthful. Not everybody is what they claim or appear to be. Most of the people I know are decent, good people in most ways. But then most of the people I know are people I work with or people I've gone to church with or professional people of some sort. Really, other than some of my family members, I usually don't have any dealings with the criminal class anymore. But that doesn't mean they don't exist, and it doesn't mean that I won't encounter them from time to time. It's fine to hold the ladder for a stranger, but it's not always good to let a stranger hold the ladder for you.
Also, take some self-defense classes, not because it will make you a badass, but because it will teach you not to panic and give up if you get punched in the face. Again, this is what muggers and thugs usually count on. They don't want to fight. They want to sucker punch somebody which will often intimidate and cow the person struck. If you fight back, as we saw in the security camera video a while back, the attackers will often try to get away.
On a related note, as we said in the linked post, it matters where you are and what time you are there. There are parts of town that are sketchy any time, and there are parts that get sketchy at times.
Obviously, I tend to recommend that people have a weapon. If you want to get a concealed carry permit -- something that is, by the way, not necessary in Arkansas where "constitutional carry" is the rule -- and carry a firearm, that's good.
Do not carry a weapon with which you have not trained.
Do not carry a weapon with which you are not familiar and comfortable.
Do not carry a weapon if you are not certain you can use it if it ever came to that.
Do not deploy a firearm and say that you will shoot unless you are prepared to shoot and keep shooting until the threat ends.
The time to decide if you can and will use a weapon is before you stick it in your pocket, not when you have to use it. When you need a weapon, there is no time for hesitation or debate.