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Old May 20, 2009, 08:33 AM   #1
ZeSpectre
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Trust your instincts! - a comment on situational awareness

I was working on my trailer later last night (getting all the lights working properly for this weekend's campout) and realized I needed a few parts. Well the nearest place open that late (10:30pm) would be, you guessed it, Wal-Mart.

Surprisingly the place was pretty busy so I wound up parking quite a ways from the door and walking past a bunch of RV folks (I guess people are already headed to there "Memorial Weekend" camping spots).

So as I'm about halfway to the door I spot a homeless guy sort of wandering around. That is, sadly, nothing new so I didn't think much on it but then as I continued my approach I noticed a couple of other guys sort of "loitering" in the shadow of a nearbyt van. BING BING BING... my "somethings not right" alarm goes off. So I hook my thumb on my belt in case I need to sweep my cover out of the way, and then detour over another aisle and keep walking.

Well nothing happens at all so I figure "ah heck, I guess I'm being paranoid tonight".

Inside the store I run into a friend so a quick "parts run" turns into 20+ minutes of chatting and then I make my purchase and head out into the parking lot...which is now full of cop cars!

What do you know, a couple of the RV's had been burgled and the third was occupied when these guys busted in. The older gent in the RV was armed and apparently frightened the crooks off when he confronted them with a gun. His description matched the homeless guy and one of the "loiterers".

So I gave the cops the best description I could of the people I saw in the parking lot and they said they thought the "homeless" guy was casing the trailers and directing the other two as to what to rob.

Part of me wishes I'd called about my suspicions earlier but then again there really wasn't anything to actually report at that time.

I'm sure glad my situational awareness was up and running and that I listened to my instincts enough to not walk through the middle of that though!

On a related note....
I live in a pretty nice, quiet, sleepy, town but I've decided that a Super Wal-Mart sitting right off a major highway is a criminal MAGNET!
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Old May 20, 2009, 09:31 AM   #2
kazanski612
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Good post/good story! I'm glad that everyone was ok.

I agree that calling the cops when you saw the questionable characters may have been premature, even knowing what you know now. But it's always better to call the cops and then not need them than to need them and not have them (same reason so many carry concealed).

But good job being in-tune with your situational awareness!
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Old May 20, 2009, 10:11 AM   #3
Creature
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Quote:
I agree that calling the cops when you saw the questionable characters may have been premature, even knowing what you know now.
The police get reports of "suspicious characters" all the time. If there isnt anything hot going and they arent otherwise preoccupied, most agencies will roll up to investigate...and many of these reports are quite valid. Even if no one is questioned, just the presence of a cruiser rolling by can have significant impact.

One must wonder how many potential crimes were prevented by these suspicious character calls...
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Old May 20, 2009, 10:21 AM   #4
Brit
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I live in a "Nice" area, that has a WalMart 2 miles from my house.

I always drop my Wife at the door, and walk in from the parking lot, this is quite a new WalMart.

When it opened, full staff, people everywhere, after a month, dropped in one night for a single item, very few staff! Stopped to talk to a Security staff member, I do that part time, my own company.

All the new people... Gone! false ID and Socials, stealing, over riding ticket values, the lot! All Hispanics, now a mixture of all kinds, just like all the other stores. Mad rush to pick staff, no proper checks!

But I have to say, no hanging about in the parking lot, some of the customers?
In the store? Now that is a horse of an other color.

Stick close to my Wife, tend to only go for the advertised specials, once every couple of weeks. Not a runners spot, I4 in front, bush and lakes behind, mobile Security patrol on the go, I have yet to see a Police presence though.
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Old May 20, 2009, 10:28 AM   #5
KingEdward
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Unfortunately you can't enjoy your evening just shopping and talking.

Great awareness and movement on your part. You are safe. Since you simply cannot predict when/where/how crimes will be committed, all you could do was what you did.

That's enough. Sleep well and enjoy the camping. Hopefully the homeless thieves will be caught and prosecuted.

Or maybe one night they will enter the wrong RV.
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Old May 20, 2009, 12:19 PM   #6
Keltyke
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Unfortunately you can't enjoy your evening just shopping and talking.
It IS a shame. My wife commented the other day, "When you get out of the car, you sweep the parking lot with your eyes. When you exit the store, you do the same. You carry the packages in your right hand (I'm a lefty). You carry your sidearm everywhere. But I feel safe around you." I've never been so proud. That's my job - to make her safe.
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Old May 20, 2009, 02:34 PM   #7
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You should feel proud, that is all our jobs.
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Old May 21, 2009, 03:57 AM   #8
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Excellent post, and anyone who is interested in situational awareness I would highly recommend the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.

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Old May 23, 2009, 12:09 PM   #9
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The Gift Of Fear is a wonderful book and is available on cd if you'd rather listen to it. Realize that, due to his childhood, the author is an anti gun extremist, ignore that part of it and you'll learn a lot.
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Old May 23, 2009, 01:33 PM   #10
Delta1067
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Wal Mart

Our Wal Mart is constantly calling in shopliftings and car break ins. I have a rule with my wife--she is not allowed to go there after dark.

I am a Deputy and the suspicious person call is one of my favorites. A lot of times we get on scene and the people have already moved on. Other times we get out with them and they have warrants, or they just finished stealing something, or have guns on them, or have dope on them. A lot of times we get out with them and we got nothing. That is all right. At least they know people are watching and we can document who they are, what they are driving, and what area they are in. This Deters crime. Shady people loitering around with no purpose need to be checked on by local law enforcment.

A lot of property crimes are crimes of opportunity. People make it easy for crminals to steal. It is easier to break into a empty house than to conduct a home invasion where the house is occupied. It is a lot easier to steal something from a car that is left unlocked than to break into one. And my favorite--it is a lot easier to steal a car that is left unlocked and running with the keys in the ignition than to steal one that is locked up.

If you get the feeling that something isn't right then trust that feeling. Whatever you do, don't blindly go through life not paying attention to your surroundings. If you don't pay attention and don't take steps to reduce your likelyhood of being a victim of crime, then don't be surprised when something bad happens to you. Carry good insurance if you don't want to carry a gun or at least keep your stuff locked up.
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Old May 23, 2009, 01:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
On a related note....
I live in a pretty nice, quiet, sleepy, town but I've decided that a Super Wal-Mart sitting right off a major highway is a criminal MAGNET!
It would not be a criminal magnet if it wasn't a target rich environment. Think about it...nice quiet, sleepy town full of complacent people.
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Old May 23, 2009, 01:48 PM   #12
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agree that calling the cops when you saw the questionable characters may have been premature,
WRONG WRONG WRONG

Do not hesitate to call the Police! You know what is "normal". Worst case scenario some pissbum gets interviewed and checked out within the parameters of the Terry decision for the breast beaters among us. Best case you prevented a robbery or worse.

Quote:
You carry the packages in your right hand (I'm a lefty).
Maybe a topic for the tactics board. But, when I carry things in my strong hand I look at them as flak to be thrown in the face of offender especially a Venti house blend from Starby's.

Last edited by Wagonman; May 23, 2009 at 01:53 PM.
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Old May 23, 2009, 03:27 PM   #13
Dubs
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I recommend saving your local Police Departments non-emergency line. That way you can report suspicious characters without worrying about detracting their attention from more urgent calls. If they're too busy with urgent calls, no big deal. If not, most officers would be happy for a little more direction than randomly wandering in a squad car.
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Old May 23, 2009, 04:12 PM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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I recommend saving your local Police Departments non-emergency line.
Around here they'd tell you "Ok, give 911 a call and tell them." I've tried the non emergency line on a couple of occasions, they have always told me to call 911.
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Old May 23, 2009, 04:28 PM   #15
teeroux
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Maybe a topic for the tactics board. But, when I carry things in my strong hand I look at them as flak to be thrown in the face of offender especially a Venti house blend from Starby's.
LOL When i leave the store I always grip carry 12 packs of cola as in not use the cutout handle and can throw it like a base ball if need be.
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Old May 23, 2009, 05:40 PM   #16
Dubs
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Around here they'd tell you "Ok, give 911 a call and tell them." I've tried the non emergency line on a couple of occasions, they have always told me to call 911.
Huh, guess it depends on the department then. The non-emergency # here connects directly to police dispatch. I think some might list the station's main phone number as the non-emergency line.
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Old May 23, 2009, 08:37 PM   #17
tshadow6
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being aware

I have a story about "loiterers." I was on duty (County Sheriff Correction Officer) going into the bank on jail business. As I got out of my marked car, a man that had been standing by the bank doors casually got on his bike and rode away. I scanned the bank before I entered then asked the people inside if everything was OK. Marked police cars DO prevent crimes. (the bank tellers were all OK, the manager had already rousted the guy)
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Old June 10, 2009, 11:36 PM   #18
cloud8a
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I am sorry but I would not have called the cops based on just the text. Maybe a different story if I was actually there.

There are some people who feel they need to utilize their public servants and get their tax dollars worth. I am Libertarian and try to depend more and more on myself. I realize there is a price to pay for that, but I am willing to pay it.

You may say choosing to not call the cops on suspicions could result in a death. But I am not a cop nor a psychic. I cannot save everything.
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Old June 11, 2009, 12:57 AM   #19
Wagonman
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You may say choosing to not call the cops on suspicions could result in a death. But I am not a cop nor a psychic. I cannot save everything.
So you save nothing?
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Old June 11, 2009, 01:09 AM   #20
cloud8a
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I am not saying I would not ever call the police. My perception of suspicious is going to be different from another's. I am just reluctant to do it as much as others might. I strongly believe in self reliance and expecting the next guy to be able to handle his own stuff. Not that I am against helping my neighbor but I am not against the original poster sticking his thumb in his waistband, looking for personal alternative routes and then going about his business.
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Old June 11, 2009, 01:49 AM   #21
onthejon55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creature
The police get reports of "suspicious characters" all the time. If there isnt anything hot going and they arent otherwise preoccupied, most agencies will roll up to investigate...and many of these reports are quite valid. Even if no one is questioned, just the presence of a cruiser rolling by can have significant impact.

One must wonder how many potential crimes were prevented by these suspicious character calls...
I have to totally disagree with your reasoning. I bet if i followed you around all day i could find all kinds of stuff that you do that looks "suspicious". If no crime is broken the police should not be called. Anything else is a waste of time.
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Old June 11, 2009, 02:07 AM   #22
cloud8a
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"If no crime is broken the police should not be called. Anything else is a waste of time."

I have to disagree with the last post. Although I am not going to call the police as much as others might I do not think waiting for a crime to be committed is only the good time to call the police. Sometimes certain activity warrants it even if it is only perceived to be suspicious at the time.
There are times when the police are best suited to decide if something is not right.
But calling the police every time you get butterflies is not a good policy.
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Old June 11, 2009, 01:05 PM   #23
Wagonman
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I have to totally disagree with your reasoning. I bet if i followed you around all day i could find all kinds of stuff that you do that looks "suspicious". If no crime is broken the police should not be called. Anything else is a waste of time.

I could not disagree more. YOU know what is normal in your AO. Your are adding apples to oranges. You aren't normally in Jon's area so how do you judge what is normal or suspicious.

Walking on a public sidewalk is legal. However, two hobos walking in front of my house is suspicious and worth a Terry stop. If they are good enough for a T-stop they are definatly worth a call to 911.
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Old June 11, 2009, 10:39 PM   #24
onthejon55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cloud8a
I have to disagree with the last post. Although I am not going to call the police as much as others might I do not think waiting for a crime to be committed is only the good time to call the police. Sometimes certain activity warrants it even if it is only perceived to be suspicious at the time.
There are times when the police are best suited to decide if something is not right.
But calling the police every time you get butterflies is not a good policy.
If you have never had someone call the police on you for something you were doing legally then you will not understand my point. It is one the most awkward/embarrassing wastes of time i have ever experienced and i loath people that go out of their way to be a "do gooder" and try to fix every problem they encounter by getting the police involved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagonman
Walking on a public sidewalk is legal. However, two hobos walking in front of my house is suspicious and worth a Terry stop. If they are good enough for a T-stop they are definatly worth a call to 911.
Lets say you just got done working in your garden so you looked dirty and you decided to walk down your street for whatever reason. Would it not annoy you if your 15 min. walk down the street turned into an hour long questioning session with police because someone called the cops on you?
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:41 AM   #25
Trooper Tyree
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OntheJon55
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloud8a
I have to disagree with the last post. Although I am not going to call the police as much as others might I do not think waiting for a crime to be committed is only the good time to call the police. Sometimes certain activity warrants it even if it is only perceived to be suspicious at the time.
There are times when the police are best suited to decide if something is not right.
But calling the police every time you get butterflies is not a good policy.
If you have never had someone call the police on you for something you were doing legally then you will not understand my point. It is one the most awkward/embarrassing wastes of time i have ever experienced and i loath people that go out of their way to be a "do gooder" and try to fix every problem they encounter by getting the police involved.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagonman
Walking on a public sidewalk is legal. However, two hobos walking in front of my house is suspicious and worth a Terry stop. If they are good enough for a T-stop they are definatly worth a call to 911.
Lets say you just got done working in your garden so you looked dirty and you decided to walk down your street for whatever reason. Would it not annoy you if your 15 min. walk down the street turned into an hour long questioning session with police because someone called the cops on you?
I'd still rather someone called the police if they thought the circumstances warranted it. Better than them not call and a robbery/assult/break in etc happen.

I also however would like the person making the call to have good judgment and observational skills.

You see I've been there and done that too. It's NOT a fun experience to have used a KEY to get in a padlocked gate, then a KEY again to get in a locked door then walk out of your shop to find a rookie cop pointing a gun at your face. He was more nervous than me. Having a rookie with shaky hands holding a gun on me when I was minding my own business taking care of business was a bit frustrating, angering almost. The anger I think came mostly from not feeling safe. His fingers were trembling, seriously. Partially too from having a gun pointed at me, if you point a gun at me my temper starts this sort of exponential climb. Imagine that.

It all worked out though. This blond bombshell came hoofing it from around back and saved me. I would have kissed her if I hadn't thought the rookie would have shot her by mistake then shot me and put a throwdown gun on me.

I learned my lesson though. LOCK THE GATE BEHIND ME. That way I'll hear their pants ripping as they climb over the wall.

Actually that could have turned out very badly. I'm always very jumpy when I'm at the shop as it doesn't have a good field of view and I'm often working alone. It could have been someone with a gun other than a cop, or had the cop come nosing on in looking for a bugler and came up behind me working in a building where I was supposed to be by myself... He'd better yell some clear commands damn loud and damn quick or hope I register his uniform before I register and respond to "intruder" and "gun". In a somewhat dim and cluttered shop though, if I have one of my cars up on the lift and I'm wrenching away I might not see much more than a flash of gun and person. Heck, a glimpse of a person would be enough for me to unlimber my own weapon if I'm working by myself. That was a particularly bad situation, if either one of us had shot the other it would have been a very tragic situation.

Last edited by Trooper Tyree; June 12, 2009 at 01:22 AM.
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