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Old June 18, 2013, 06:46 PM   #1
dakota.potts
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Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

My girlfriend just texted me. She went to Walmart to get some food for a trip we're taking this week. As she got out of the car a homeless person approached her with a bunch of things he had made out of palm leaves. He started by saying "Miss, I'm not going to hurt you, I'm just homeless and need to sell some of these to get by". She said "No, sorry" and sped up. He followed her and said "Miss, please come back, I'm not going to hurt you". At this point she turned backwards to face him while walking into the store and got inside quickly. He didn't follow her.

As Walmart is a "safe place" she requested to have somebody in the store walk out with her to her car.

What would you have done in similar circumstances? I know for the most part homeless and panhandlers can get a little weird but you also don't know if it's going to be that one time that they're not going to take the answer "no".
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Old June 18, 2013, 06:56 PM   #2
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Re: Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

A firm "no" and "back away", and while doing that I would have my pepper spray in hand (though perhaps not where he could see it). Now, that is me. Your girlfriend should have already had her pepper spray in her hand and where he could see that she was ready to use it.

The "sorry", while polite, is a cue to him that she will not do anything to him if he continues to pry. Leave out the political correctness and be very firm. She did well, however, to have someone else walk her out to her car. But think for a second, did she know the person who walked her to her car any more than she knew the homeless man?
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Old June 18, 2013, 07:01 PM   #3
dakota.potts
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When she went inside she was pointed to a couple of police officers who were already there after having made a different arrest. She asked the police officers if one of them could walk her to the car. One informed her he was busy and the other laughed at her and asked what she was so afraid of in the middle of the day He finally relented but walked far behind her.

She doesn't carry pepper spray yet. We've talked about it but neither of us really knows how to use it and I'm not sold yet on if it could make things worse by getting in your own face or just making an experienced criminal angry.
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Old June 18, 2013, 07:15 PM   #4
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Re: Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

Does she have any method of defense? If not then she really should get some pepper spray. There is not much of a learning curve to using pepper spray, it is a point and shoot type of thing. And another good thing is that sometimes, just the presence of it will cause an unwanted person to back off (like most likely would have happened in this instance).

How many college age girls do you think have "training" in how to use pepper spray? Now how many do you think carry it?...

I think you are way off base thinking those are reasons not to carry it. Especially after you make a list of reasons that she should carry it. Heck, you probably should as well... I do.
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Old June 18, 2013, 07:16 PM   #5
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If you see aggressive approach or signs of a probable attack, they are already 'angry '.
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Old June 18, 2013, 07:21 PM   #6
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This is true. I am not against it. We have just not taken affirmative action as I don't know enough about it to have made a choice. We will be revisiting it after this though.

What she does have is one of these that clips to her keychain: https://www.oneplusdefense.com/image...utus01blue.jpg It is not much but as a force multiplier could really do some damage. I had one before I got my knife.

As far as Tactics go, would this have set off alarm bells for you? What would you tactically have done to keep the situation in your favor?
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Old June 18, 2013, 07:29 PM   #7
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Re: Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

I would NOT have turned my back to the man. I would have tried to take another route to my vehicle, preferably one with other people around. And again, my pepper spray would have been unlocked and ready to go.

Take your pick:

http://www.sabrered.com/servlet/Service
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Old June 18, 2013, 07:33 PM   #8
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She was going from her car to the store. She turned to face the man and backed into the Walmart entrance. Is that what you were referring to?
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Old June 18, 2013, 08:15 PM   #9
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Everyone, men and women, have to come to terms (or not) with the concept of not being polite to someone who is in their space.

COMMAND the guy to back away. Loud enough so that others hear you. Do that and some bystander might find those two cops inside and say "Hey, I think there's a fight or a woman getting attacked or something in the parking lot".

Don't ever "apologize" for not allowing someone into your safety space.

"I'm not going to hurt you" coming from someone too close for comfort is not acceptable, to me at least.


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Old June 18, 2013, 08:21 PM   #10
Ed4032
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This happened to me once. Also at a Walmart. I used my outside voice to let him know to stay away. It was very effective. I had plan B ready though.
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Old June 18, 2013, 08:50 PM   #11
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The problem here is that we're talking about a female-- and none of you guys know what would work for her. Really. What we do is different from what women do in the same situation, and this is one clear example of when we need a female instructor.
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Old June 18, 2013, 09:08 PM   #12
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Just a few thoughts. I instruct my wife to scan the parking lot prior to unlocking and exiting her car. If something or someone appears suspicious,have your pepper spray concealed in hand.
Walk like you own it and be aware of your surroundings.I agree, a firm no response and keep walking would be appropriate.
If the Officer was free to leave his partner, he should have been more than happy to walk the lady to her car. that's just good PR and Customer Service.
Just my .02.
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Old June 18, 2013, 09:10 PM   #13
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Re: Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
The problem here is that we're talking about a female-- and none of you guys know what would work for her. Really. What we do is different from what women do in the same situation, and this is one clear example of when we need a female instructor.
The same security precautions that men take can also be taken by women. Avoiding the threat or finding a way around it is a plan best pursued by anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender.
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Old June 18, 2013, 09:30 PM   #14
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She is not necessarily "defense minded" like I am. I doubt she would be able to awaken the split second brutality required to use a knife but I carry one all the time. I'm getting her to be more receptive to things like locking her doors and rolling up her windows, not going certain areas (Walmart) after a certain time, things like that. What I'm getting at is she's never really practiced a firm confrontation or standing somebody down with her voice. It's not a thing that comes naturally to a person.

Do any of you have SOs that are like this? If I had her live the way I do (constant condition yellow as long as I possibly can even in safe conditions, constant firearms training, visualization, etc.) she would likely have a mental breakdown. So, I find myself compromising. Obviously, realistically, not everybody's going to be a constantly hyper aware Krav Maga black belt. I don't expect that but I hope I can help her not be caught unaware and avoid confrontations. What I'm asking is what have people done for loved ones in similar situations? Obviously I'm going to talk to her about a more effective self defense method than her keychain. What are some simple, effective steps that can be done for somebody who may resist hours of tactical training and scenarios?
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Old June 18, 2013, 09:31 PM   #15
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My daughter had a similar thing occur at Walmart.

Here is a link to the post and responses.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=494995
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Old June 18, 2013, 09:33 PM   #16
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Re: Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

Dakota, forget getting her to carry a knife. The chances of that turning on her are much higher than pepper spray. Heck, without some training there is a good chance that you'll be seriously injured with your own knife should you pull it in a fight.

My girlfriend is not a confrontational individual, but she carries pepper spray. She has pulled it twice, and each time that has made the guy to turn and run fast enough to trip. One time there was a police officer there to tackle the guy, but the other one ran and didn't stop.

When my girlfriend is alone I have taught her to be fairly alert (and that has obviously worked well). However, when she is with me she relaxes a little bit.

Last edited by allaroundhunter; June 18, 2013 at 09:39 PM.
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Old June 18, 2013, 09:47 PM   #17
dakota.potts
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I was saying the same as I think you are, Hunter. I don't see her using a knife and even when she gets old enough I have a very high doubt she will want anything to do with guns. When I first started becoming aware of what would happen around us, I would tell her to be careful on her way to the bathroom at a restaurant or the mall or really anywhere we split up and a lot of times she would just laugh and say "I'll be fine." She's truly never been a victim of any kind of forcible crime (neither have I) and for some reason some people think it won't happen to them if it hasn't.

She's been getting much better about it these past months. I don't know if it's because she's realizing she's an adult now and getting ready to start her own life soon or if I've gotten through to her or what the cause is, but I'm glad. Hopefully this incident was a sort of wake up call that might be a good thing to making her realize what could happen.

The thing about this incident is with a different wording ("Excuse me, miss, would you take a moment to look at what I have for sale?") it might not have been a big deal. But starting out with "I'm not going to hurt you" really escalates things. It might have been that it regularly scares people and he was trying to comfort her but I wouldn't have stuck around to find out if that was the case. It's almost like saying "Hello officer, I'm not going to shoot you, can you please give me some directions to the nearest gas station?"

geetarman, it seems the Walmart staff and police were much more friendly and willing to help than the ones she encountered I told my mom the story and she said it's just another reason to carry your own gun because you can never count on somebody else to protect you.

ETA: In the link geetarman posted, there is an awesome article from the Cornered Cat that deals with some of the questions I asked http://www.corneredcat.com/article/u...embarrassment/

Last edited by dakota.potts; June 18, 2013 at 09:55 PM.
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Old June 18, 2013, 10:35 PM   #18
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Allaroundhunter, that's where we differ. I don't avoid unidentified threats very often. I certainly don't avoid threats in places I want to go.

It is, therefore, not the "best" strategy. And therein lies the rub.

First, there is no "best" strategy, at least not if you get out of bed in the morning. Second, what works for you wouldn't work for me, as this demonstrates. Third, what works for me wouldn't work for a four foot woman.

Trying to teach your mate anything about self defense is one of the few things I agree with Pax about. If you can teach your mate about self defense, I'd want a different mate. But I imagine we differ there, too.
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Old June 18, 2013, 10:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Allaroundhunter, that's where we differ. I don't avoid threats very often. I certainly don't avoid threats in places I want to go.
This "plan" makes no sense to me. If you can avoid the threat before anything happens then (in my mind) there is no reason not to. Common sense tells anyone that this is the correct course of action.... But, to each his own, I guess.

If there is a better strategy than attempting avoiding the threat/confrontation in the first place then please, enlighten us.
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Old June 18, 2013, 10:40 PM   #20
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Yup. And my own depends on how high I perceive the threat to be.

There is virtually no chance of me avoiding a panhandler, even if I see him first.

You probably need to avoid most of Seattle.
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Old June 18, 2013, 10:47 PM   #21
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do NOT engage in conversation with these interlopers. do NOT exchange ANY words. completely ignore them and move on.
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Old June 18, 2013, 10:48 PM   #22
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Actually, I tell them "no."

Works every time.

Every time I do it, anyway. There is one guy here that I went to junior high and high school with, in the late sixties-early seventies. Him, I give money to. I'm sort of dreading the day I don't see him. We come from the same place. There is also a program here in Seattle called "Real Change", and I help them out, too.

So you pays your nickel and you takes your chances.

To re-cap: what works for me may or may not work for you, and what works for men may or may not work for women.
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Old June 18, 2013, 11:15 PM   #23
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Suspicious panhandler in the parking lot

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed4032 View Post
This happened to me once. Also at a Walmart. I used my outside voice to let him know to stay away. It was very effective. I had plan B ready though.
Was pregnancy a serious threat?

All joking aside, I'd tell him no thanks same as she did and if he kept on then out comes the stern "I'm on an episode of COPS" voice. Further pestering I'd probably have to put my big boy pants on and un clip my knife from my pocket and have it in my hand ready to deploy (Kershaw speed safe).

If the guy didn't get the effing memo at that point I'm not sure what I would do. At that point I would hope to be nearly halfway across the parking lot and far enough away for him to no longer be a threat. If the guy was following me, which at that point he would have to be for this to still be an issue, I might step to him and get in his face. I don't know. I seldom am not with my wife and 18 mo old son so if had to step to him to keep him at a distance I was comfortable with from them then as much as it would suck its what I would do. I'd have to draw the line somewhere and seeing how he has now followed me what I am envisioning to be nearly 100 feet that would be it for me. He's not following my wife and child any further.

Once they are at the door he can follow me to it if he'd like. Keep in mind I'd have my knife in my hand nearly this whole time.
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Old June 19, 2013, 01:09 AM   #24
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Dakota, give or take the "sorry," I think your girlfriend handled it just fine. Yes, pepper spray would have been nice, but in a situation like that, pepper spray -- or any other weapon -- is a backup. Plan A should always be to avoid or get away from the situation if at all possible. (That goes for anyone, male, female, or other.)

She told him no, and when he persisted, she got herself out of the situation as fast as she could while being aware of what he was doing. Then she made sure she had an escort when she went back to her car.

The police officers should NOT have given her a hard time -- that was way out of line, and very unprofessional.

She did well -- take her out for a nice dinner, and don't discuss it over the meal unless she brings it up.
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Old June 19, 2013, 01:22 AM   #25
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Firstly there are weird people everywhere. Not all of them are dangerous.
There are normal people everywhere. Not all of them are to be trusted.

That is the tricky part when it comes to judgement.

I would say composure and presentation is about as effective as any weapon. If you shrink away or your voice betrays your worry, if this person means harm it proves his or her feelings as you as a mark were correct. This composure applies to both sexes. If you come across as confident, cool, and seemingly in control you seem much less appealing.

While I understand your concern for your girlfriend I feel that you are worrying to much. (just an opinion) Women are quite capable of acting under pressure and taking care of themselves, they are not the helpless creatures some (not saying you) assume they are. She's smart. She handled it. I assume she is under 18 by your posts. If when she becomes an adult she expresses interest in learning and owning a weapon of some sort she can take the steps necessary.

All in all these things can and do happen. While not to be casually dismissed I wouldn't dwell on them to terribly either unless it becomes the same person again and again. This has happened to me and my gf.
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