In this deteriorating economy we can expect to see a rise in the crime rate as lack of funding for law enforcement, courts and prisons translates into lower arrest rates, fewer convictions and shorter sentences.
Therefore I'm going to start posting a series of Crime Avoidance and Crime Fighting articles here.
This first article will be on Follow Home Robberies; how to detect them, how to avoid them and how to defeat them.
Follow Home Robberies can be the start of Home Invasion Robberies since once they've got you and your keys it's a simple step to take you inside where further robbing, rapes and even murder can be accomplished in the privacy of your own home.
If you're targeted they'll probably be following you home from work. Or the perpetrators may just pick out a "rich" looking person/vehicle as they drive down the road in the evening rush hour. In either case they'll be following you home which gives you an opportunity to detect them before turning into your driveway.
Of course there are always going to be cars behind you during the evening rush hour, but do all of them change lanes when you do? Probably not. There are two easy ways to 'Prove' a tail.
1. Drive the speed limit.
Except in heavy traffic almost everybody speeds. Just by driving at the speed limit you become a 'bump in the road' that everybody wants to pass. Except the guys tailing you. If you slow down and a car continues to stay behind you even though traffic permits him to pass you may have found a tail.
2. Four Turns to turn up a tail.
Another method to detect a tail is to go around the block. If you make four right (or left) turns in a row and the car behind you does too you are being followed.
If you suspect you are being tailed DO NOT GO HOME!
You don't want these guys to know where you live.
Continue driving normally (a high speed chase will likely result in an accident) until you are ready to make your move. You don't want the crooks to know you are on to them. Remember: As long as your vehicle is moving they can't get at you.
As long as they think you are leading them to your home they'll hang back. Stay on well traveled roads to discourage them from running you off the road in an attempt to turn this into a carjacking.
If they bump into you in an attempt to get you to pull over to exchange insurance information; slow but do not stop, open the window and motion for them to follow you, lead them slowly to a well lit populated place.
If you have a working cell phone call 911 they'll probably direct you to a "meet" with one of their patrol cars.
If you don't have a cell phone drive to the nearest police or fire station. Pull into their driveway in such a way that you can drive back out onto the street without having to back up. You don't want whoever is following you to be able to block you in. Whoever's following you will probably peel out when they see you pulling into the station. If they pull over and wait for you to leave and there are no cops or firemen outside stay in your car and honk the horn until someone comes out of the station. It would be nice if you could give them a license number.
If you can't find a police or fire station go to a well lit well populated place like a busy convenience store or shopping mall and call the cops from within the safety of a crowd.
If you fail to pick up the tail before pulling onto your street all is not lost. Make it a habit to check your rearview mirror when turning onto your street. Is there a car turning behind you? Does it belong to someone living there? If not, drive past your house and start following the advice given above. You do not want to pull into your driveway because then they will be able to block you in.
I'm giving you the benefit of my years of experience, study and training here, but I can't be there with you when the chips are down so use your own judgment and common sense in these situations.
To Comment on this article
E-Mail Me Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email or any other specific information for privacy purposes.
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Response from jC:
"I like the "pull into a convience store" suggestion. I have known people it worked for. But my story.
When I was in DC years ago, a guy pulled up alongside me and said "you have a flat tire!" So I nodded. My passenger got all upset with impending doom of a flat. But the guy stayed right behind me in the next lane. Lots of traffic. I slid into the slow lane, drove a bit slow and it was not too unusual he was still nearby. So I wonder.
No brakes, no signal, I whipped the wheel into a Motel parking lot. He was unprepared, so drove past. It takes about 15 seconds to look at the tires and get back into the car, on to the road just in time to see him try to circle the block. And plenty of time for me to be long gone.
Did I save myself? Was it really a threat? My minor suspicion is still uncertain. But NOTHING happened."
Hi, jC, I believe you were targeted. The fact that the guy followed you AND circled back coupled with the fact that you didn't have a flat screams evil intention. Good thinking on your part. As you noted, not letting him know you were suspicious gave you the advantage when you decided to make your move.
The "Your tire is low/flat." ploy is a variation on the Bump and Rob tactic. Both are designed to get the victim driver stopped beside the roadway, away from witnesses, where they can be robbed, kidnapped or raped.
Whether the other guy claims you've got a flat or bumps into your vehicle in an attempt to get you to stop to exchange insurance information your response should be the same: whip out your cell phone (or PDA or shoe or anything that looks like a phone) and call 911 as you drive to a well populated place before stopping. The 911 dispatcher may blow you off, but the crook won't know that and the last thing he wants is a cop.
As in most crimes the perpetrator mimics an honest citizen up until the moment s/he strikes. This makes it more difficult to decide how to respond. In the case of a fender bender you have to ask yourself; Is it a legitimate accident or a ploy to get me to stop where there are no witnesses?"
Here you can put your detective skills to work. Who's on the other end of the fender bender; a little old lady or a couple of rough looking dudes? Does your vehicle FEEL like it's running on a flat tire? Is the 'Good Samaritan' sticking around to "help?" Did this incident occur in a place where there are unlikely to be witnesses?
I've seen anti-crime tips which address the Bump and Rob ruse by telling the driver to stop but not get out of the car. They were advised to exchange insurance information through a partially open window. BIG MISTAKE!
As long as you are in a moving car the crook can't get at you. Once you're stopped, unless your car windows are bullet proof, it doesn't matter how far down your windows are; he's got you. Even if he hasn't got a gun, a tire iron or baseball bat gets him into the car and to you.
In the case of a suspicious fender bender just roll the window down far enough to motion for him to follow you. Then drive to a place where there are people (witnesses) to exchange insurance information.
In the case of the alleged flat tire, you'll feel a flat. If you don't feel wobbling you don't have a flat. It's harder to feel a tire with low air pressure, but if you can't feel it that means it's still drivable. It's better to ruin a tire than to ruin your life. If you're suspicious sacrifice the tire; drive to a safe place before stopping.
To Comment on this article
E-Mail Me Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.