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A Lady's Major Security Concern

by N. Ray Maxie

No amount of heavy patrols or security can consistently and forever prevent all things from happening. You, yourself is your own first line of defense.
N. Ray Maxie
Frequently my family and I like to go shopping at the great Woodlands Mall in The Woodlands, Texas. Most often we will park in the Dillard's Department Store parking lot. It seems to me that the entrance to their lot is so convenient right after exiting off of I-45, southbound. And, you know, as I get older, convenience is the thing that I'm looking for. We just pull into their lot and it's only a short walk to their east entrance. Stroll directly through their store and soon you enter the main mall where the great pleasure of what you came for begins; strolling, shopping, eating and enjoying the atmosphere. The new addition to the mall is just great, along with all of the other expansion in that area.

Seldom, if ever, will I do any serious shopping at Dillard's. I sometimes feel a little guilty about using their parking lot and restroom facilities since we hardly ever spend any money with them. (Gulp!! My wife just told me that she spends more there than I realize.) I know, I know I shouldn't feel that way and there's nothing about them or the store to make me feel that way. I really do love Dillard's store. They seem to have high quality merchandise and the store displays are first class.

I can remember many years ago as a young timid and backward country boy, when walking into a fast food restaurant, or other business, just to use their restroom, feeling like I was obligated to buy something. Whether I was hungry or not, I felt that I should buy something. That's really silly, isn't it?

Security at Woodlands Mall seems very adequate. I have never been car-jacked, robbed or mugged while there; nor even approached by a panhandler, or any other suspicious persons, male or female. The mounted security patrols are very good and active there. We have a cowboy friend whom, along with his grown daughter, work security there part-time. They ride their horses in security detail around the mall every week. Plus, the mall security officers and some county deputy sheriff officers are ever present on both levels doing foot patrol inside the mall.

Malls all over America have serious security concerns. And rightly so. They need and want customers that feel safe and secure in their retail environment; a place where customers can come and go without any hesitation or fear of criminal interruption. This is not to say that sometimes an unwanted, scary or dangerous thing doesn't happen, especially around larger cities and densely populated areas. No amount of heavy patrols or security can consistently and forever prevent all things from happening. You, yourself is your own first line of defense. Be alert. Know what is going on around you. Predators will usually pick their targets in advance. Targets that they consider an easy mark. I am sorry to say that statistics reveal women are most often their intended targets, and understandably so. Criminals that are high on meth or speed and spaced out on some drug could care less how they obtain money. They only want their next fix. They can be very ruthless and quick acting during their state of super euphoria.

Don't let yourself be an easy mark. Be tough! Do all you can to make yourself a hard target. Women having a friend or partner accompany you is utmost important. Use the buddy system, which is becoming more and more popular these days. Practice being alert of your surrounding. Keep your eyes and head moving as you walk, then quickly enter your automobile, especially at night. Always go with your first instinct. If for one moment you feel things aren't right, don't stop. Move quickly back to the building and seek assistance. Watch the vehicles next to yours very closely for any suspicious persons or activity. Have your remote or door key in hand to quickly open, quickly close and lock yourself in as fast as possible. Then drive away quickly.

Hesitation in your actions shows indecision, confusion and perhaps carelessness. Criminals look for that. As my old football coach always said, "Hesitate and you're dead." Don't sit idle in your vehicle for any time checking purchases, or receipts, or checkbook, etc., because you become an easy sitting target. Drive on out quickly and do that checking at home or back in the store.

Predators will often approach a "mark" seeking directions from them. Like, with map in hand and very nicely ask, "I'm lost. Can you please help me." OR, "Can you please tell me how to find Joe's Pool Hall." It's only an ulterior introduction, an icebreaker while scoping you out. Don't hesitate or delay in order to assist them. Ignore them and quickly resist your urge to want to help. Make sure that you are not being followed. If they get the chance, while they are talking to you, they will be sizing you up. They will frequently try to draw attention to a "problem" with your vehicle; a low tire, a "flat tire", a broken light or a fluid leak underneath your vehicle. Anything to divert your attention. Don't fall for it. Be street wise.

We heard of one recent ploy at the Woodlands Mall that went this way. The predator walks out of the mall at or near the same time as his "mark". Walking nearby while "looking" for his car, he tells her that he is new there and must have come out the wrong end of the mall. Would she be so kind as to give him a ride to the other end of the mall? Don't' do it ! ! He only wants to get you in the vehicle.

Another ploy used recently in some areas is the placing of a large piece of paper on your back window, maybe under the back windshield wiper if you have one. You arrive at your vehicle, locking yourself in. Then starting to back up, you see the piece of paper there in your review mirror. You stop, maybe with the motor running and the drivers door open, you go to the back to remove the paper. That's when the car-jacker jumps under the wheel, locks himself in and takes off with your vehicle. You had probable left your purse on the seat and he is gone with all your ID, your driver's license and credit cards. It is best to have just ignored the piece of paper until later.

I don't like to back up. A technique that I like to use just to keep from having to back up is to find parking spaces, if you can easily, to pull through the first one, stopping in the second line of cars. That is not possible to do if there are parking bumper blocks laid out on the lot. Even if you do have to leave the entrance/exit isle going the wrong direction, that is much better than having to back up.

I must mention here ladies, this is highly important! IF the "bad stuff" ever should happen to you and you do get accosted and forced into your vehicle or any other vehicle, try with all your might and greatest effort to escape right then and there, before the "worst" can happen. Act quickly and forcefully. Give it your best effort right THERE. Experience has shown that it is always best to give it your ALL and immediately fight, bite, pull hair, scream, kick out the windows and escape right there, than be forced to go to the "second" location. The second location is always a very remote area where no one ever sees anything and no one ever hears anything. Zilch ! Few abductees have ever survived that second location. Don't go there!

Be tough and live. Don't be an easy mark. You are your first and greatest line of defense.
N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray"
February 14, 2006 Column
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