‘Fight for your life, not your belongings’: Safety expert offers tips to keep yourself safe when shopping
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Following the robbery of a 69-year-old in an Aldi’s Parking lot Sunday by a man pretending to assist her with her groceries, security expert and owner of Major Security Consulting Mike Jones says people should be on high alert in order to prevent similar crimes from happening them.
“The lady, in this case, didn’t do anything wrong because victims never do, but behaviors are taken advantage of by criminals and in this case, he used one of the oldest tricks in the book is friendly,” said Jones.
Jones says our guards are usually lowered when leaving a store, but it’s actually when we should be most alert.
“Stop inside the entrance before you go out and just look and see who’s outside," said Jones. "Look ahead and watch your surroundings, use a side to glance at who’s waiting for you and who’s watching for you.”
Jones says predators looking to take advantage of unsuspecting customers are trying to find individuals who appear to be most vulnerable. He says you can avoid that by using a cart to carry your items and avoid carrying anything in your hands.
“Don’t put everything in your arms, put it in a cart and take it out to your car that way. That allows you to have a barrier between you and another person, and you can always put that between you and someone else if someone attempts to get close to you for whatever reason,” said Jones. “It also allows you to run away if someone tries to attack you.”
Declining help from strangers is also paramount. Jones says most criminals are trying to take advantage of your kindness, particularly of the elderly, to lull you into a false sense of security.
“If you accept help from a stranger - next thing you know you can have a person who has control of everything you can do, they can push you down and it’s hard to defend yourself," said Jones.
Jones adds that you should never fight back for your valuables
In this case, the woman clung to her purse and was dragged several feet in the process. Jones says the most important thing is to protect yourself.
“Don’t hesitate to call 911 or scream or call for help, if you feel you are being accosted. Don’t worry about your property, that can be replaced - you can’t," said Jones. “Fight for your life, not your belongings, belongings can be replaced. And oftentimes with purses or other items with straps, your arms can get caught in that and you can be dragged by them or into the path of another vehicle and you can be severely injured.”
Jones says you should always park as close as you can to the store and if it’s a dark, park in the most well-lit areas and have your key readily available when going in or out of the store. Avoiding help from strangers is also paramount. Jones says if you need assistance, you should always first seek help from store employees.
“Ask someone from the store if they can escort you to your car. Stores will do that if you ask - you are not bothering someone to do that,” said Jones.
Jones says it’s also important to practice situational awareness by making a gameplan of how you would keep yourself safe in a similar situation before going to the store.
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