This is not good. When the LAPD has to put out an alert regarding a rising wave of violent crime, it must be significant.
The Los Angeles Police Department tweeted a warning that they’re in the midst of a surging crime wave, including increased so-called “follow-home” burglaries. That’s where a criminal watches their victim leave a store, follows them home then robs them.
Not surprisingly, criminals are watching us. They are judging what we might have of value by:
Observing as we leave expensive restaurants, jewelry stores, high-end nightclubs.
Looking at how expensive our car is.
How we are dressed.
These observations add up to telling a story about the valuables we might have.
They then follow their target to their home or business. When they get out of the car, the crew swarms them and robs them.
Unfortunately, the city wants you to give the criminals what they ask for and "be a good witness". For anyone of us who have raised toddlers or teenagers we already know we will continue to get the behavior that we tolerate.
Los Angeles residents are living through a nightmare scenario. The local district attorney announced he’s releasing a 24-year-old convicted murderer after serving only six years of a 50-year sentence. Police are, at the same time, telling everyone, including would-be criminals, that they’re unable to quickly respond to calls for help and that crime victims should just “cooperate and comply” with the perpetrators.
As individuals, our first duty is to protect ourselves so we can protect our families. If we have been surprised or overwhelmed, we might simply have to comply. We might be in such a state of tactical inferiority that we have no choice.
But, we can help ourselves tremendously here by:
Watching for people acting suspiciously around us, are they looking hard at us? Do they move when we move? Is a car matching our turns for more than two times? A third time?
If our intuition is nagging us, then listen to it. Don't go straight home. Do you know where the nearest police station is? How about a fire station? (Spoiler alert here: both of these locations can be almost vacant for a number of times during any day).
If there is a doubt, go to people. Find a spot where there is good lighting and -- possibly -- security cameras. Convenience stores are decent choices for both of these parameters.
If we suspect someone is following us, we are NOT going to try and outrun them in our car. We are going to drive sanely, stay in our car, and keep moving no matter what. We do have more than half a tank of gas, right?
We call 911 and tell the dispatcher we are being followed and suspect we are going to be robbed. Describe the car. Better yet, we concentrate on driving and our partner is on the phone with 911.
On my visits to Rio de Janiero, I was advised by the locals to dress down, never wear jewelry, don't carry all my cards or a large amount of cash, and keep my head on a swivel. If we are in a large city that is currently having a dramatic increase in crime, we should consider downplaying any flashy displays at all. Remember, someone wants what we have, regardless if we feel like we don't have "much". Heck, our phone is worth $100 to the drug addict who takes it.
Now, the real unsaid part of these story is that we are sometimes limited in our abilities to resist effectively. California is a dramatic example of this with some of the most draconian gun control laws in the nation:
Moreover, the state limits the number of guns law-abiding citizens can buy each month, requires law-abiding citizens to show “good cause” in order to be approved for a concealed carry permit, bans campus carry for self-defense, bans K-12 teachers from having guns for classroom defense, has a ten-day waiting period on gun purchases, has gun registration requirements for law-abiding citizens, has a red flag law, and the state also has a ban on “high-capacity” magazines (which is currently being litigated).
Additionally, California has ammunition controls which include background checks for ammunition purchases and said purchases to in-state ammunition dealers who are approved by the state.
In spite of all the gun and ammunition controls, Los Angeles is seeing “an increase in violent street robberies.” (My emphasis added).
In reality, we are only as safe as we make ourselves. We work to control our immediate environment. We work on our skills so we can effectively resist dangerous attacks.
It's going to get worse.
Focus on the things you can control for self-defense. Work on these to be safer as we continue to devolve into a more chaotic society.