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Old June 1, 2016, 11:16 AM   #1
Mainah
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Situational Awareness Fail

I was walking my dog in Freeport, ME this morning at around seven. We were in a quiet area behind the LL Bean flagship store when I saw a young woman approaching on foot. Even from 100 yards I could tell that something wasn't right about her.

As I approached her she looked around, and then asked to use my phone. She said she was stranded and needed to call for a ride. I agreed, she took the phone and at least acted as if she was making the call. Meanwhile my small dog was being friendly. And I sized her up as a junkie.

After a few seconds of holding the phone against her ear she handed the phone back and said she just needed some gas to get home. Then, quite suddenly she said "I'm all set" and a older car with a guy driving pulled up quickly behind us. She jumped in the car, the guy gave me a dirty look and they drove off.

It occurred to me just then that she was planning to steal my phone. Fortunately for me I've got an old cheap one that is clearly marked with the track service I use. Not worth the trouble.

I went to the police station and filed a report. But I'm still kicking myself for letting the guy get up behind me without noticing. Freeport, ME... seven in the morning. It can happen anywhere and anytime.
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Old June 1, 2016, 11:32 AM   #2
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You went to the police station to report what? suspicious people that you do not know?

I think you made the mistake of entertaining the requests of a stranger who approached you in a parking lot. You are paying attention to her ( as you should) and missed what else is happening around you. Take away the interaction with the girl which was your primary distraction and you have no problem.

If someone walks up to me in a parking lot, I tell them to back off. If they wont leave me alone I will typically go back the way I came.
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Old June 1, 2016, 11:45 AM   #3
Tactical Jackalope
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Whew. You did well, since you came out alright.

Be a little more careful next time! It could have easily been a few people in the truck that could have mugged you. God knows what else would have happened.

Were you carrying that night? If so, what?

Good call on filing a police report. You never know if they hit someone later or earlier on and the reports match. They could use any info not given prior or in the future against the perps.

You learned some valuable lessons on watching your six though.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old June 1, 2016, 11:50 AM   #4
Mainah
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Quote:
Were you carrying that night? If so, what?
It was this morning, and I wasn't carrying.

Quote:
You went to the police station to report what? suspicious people that you do not know?
Suspicious activity. I didn't think it was important enough for a 911 call, the officer I spoke with said that I should have made that call right away.
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Old June 1, 2016, 11:53 AM   #5
T. O'Heir
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Filed a report about what? At seven in the morning behind the LL Bean, you're the suspicious character. Skulking about behind a well known retailer. And your little dog too. snicker.
Sometimes a damsel in distress is just that.
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Old June 1, 2016, 12:12 PM   #6
Tactical Jackalope
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Originally Posted by T. O'Heir View Post
Filed a report about what? At seven in the morning behind the LL Bean, you're the suspicious character. Skulking about behind a well known retailer. And your little dog too. snicker.
Sometimes a damsel in distress is just that.
Well, that was uncalled for...
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Old June 1, 2016, 01:00 PM   #7
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This was in an area where the business/retail section of town meets a quiet residential area (actually, that's pretty much the whole downtown). I was in a very open area, surrounded by empty parking lots.

There was nothing for anyone to hide behind. That contributed to my false sense of security, didn't consider a car rolling up behind me. But I should have.

We have a bad heroin problem in Maine. I always felt more at ease in the morning because it's been my experience that criminals don't like to get up early. Live and learn.
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Old June 1, 2016, 01:29 PM   #8
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I was at the diner at 6:30 am when a woman walked in . I knew immediately
That she had some kind of problem. Time of day , cold winter , not dressed for the cold , didn't have a connection between her statements. I knew this maybe because of all my NYC training still worked .There didn't seem to be any danger so I left . The others seemed to think she had walked out of some kind of rehab maybe but I was surprized that they didn't instantly figure it out as I did . Very rural small diner .In so may ways she didn't fit in. They called for a Deputy and that's the last I heard of it . So my situational awareness still worked .
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Old June 1, 2016, 03:27 PM   #9
shafter
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I wouldn't have given a stranger my phone unless I had means to sanitize it immediately after. Aside from that you did the right thing. May have been nothing but it there may have been some sort of criminal intent involved as well. By reporting it to the police it's documented which makes it easier to investigate if similar reports come in. It doesn't sound like you lost your head or overreacted.

For those who mentioned it I don't think there's anything suspicious about a guy walking his dog at 7am in downtown Freeport. I've been there, there's always people going for the AM stroll.
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Old June 1, 2016, 03:43 PM   #10
DaleA
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And your little dog too. snicker.
Well, I liked that part.

Overall I don't think I would have done any better. With several minutes to think about it after reading your post I guess maybe you could have got the license plate of the car or moved so your back was against the wall while she was using your phone but <shrug> this is all backseat driving after the fact.

I probably would not have reported it to the police.
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Old June 1, 2016, 03:59 PM   #11
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Just out of curiosity, did you (or the police) check your phone's call log to see if a call had actually been placed by the woman?

If not, then it might be further indication of a suspicious activity.

Or, it might mean the woman was impatiently waiting for the man in the car to arrive and find her and pick her up?

Or, it might mean you were being evaluated for becoming the victim of a property/theft crime, but if that were the case, why did the "team" (your obvious suspicion) decide not to act upon finding you alone, with only a "little" (intimidating) dog?

That's a lot of effort for just thinking about stealing a phone.

Whatever may, or may not, have been involved in your particular incident, I applaud your realization that trying to become more aware of your surroundings is sometimes a prudent idea. Just don't let it slip over into paranoia and looking at everyone as a "threat".

It's also not a bad idea to at least alert the local PD/SO to the incident, since it did seem suspicious and out of the ordinary to you.

Worst case? You're making use of your tax dollars and local LE resources.

Best case? If it is something involving a pattern of criminal activity, you may have helped the agency develop more information to help them identify the activity and investigate it. Not a bad thing.

Did you think to get the car's plate number?

Community & neighborhood watch efforts can be this simple.
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Old June 1, 2016, 04:16 PM   #12
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Mainah said:Even from 100 yards I could tell that something wasn't right about her.

JMO but this is where it all went wrong. If you knew from that far away she was whacked why would you even let her approach you? I'm out walking my dog I got no place in particular to be, I have the option of turning 90 degrees away from her path and walking away. If she turns to follow me from 100 yards away then I know there's a problem

I wasn't carrying.

And there's your second mistake.
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Old June 1, 2016, 04:35 PM   #13
g.willikers
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The first thing you did wrong is leaving the house at the ungodly hour of 7am.
Civilized folks don't get out of bed until at least 9.
If someone walks up to you next time and asks for something, just say you don't have one.
Cell phone? Nope, sorry, don't have one.
Cigarette? Nope, sorry, don't smoke.
A light? Nope, sorry, don't smoke.
Five bucks? Nope, wife beat you to it.
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Old June 1, 2016, 04:51 PM   #14
Mainah
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This would have been an easy way to steal an expensive phone. I checked mine, no call was made. Although she did pantomime one. In retrospect I'm pretty sure the guy in the car was watching from a distance and pulled up when he saw that she had my phone. And she gave it back to me because after she'd handled it she realized it couldn't be converted into a fix.

I should have diverted away from her when I got a bad vibe. At least the local police have a report, and they're hoping to get surveillance footage too.
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Old June 1, 2016, 07:15 PM   #15
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When I used to smoke, panhandlers would come up and ask for a smoke. I started to tell them, deadpan, 'I don't smoke', especially while I was smoking.

They get the idea pretty quickly to go away.
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Old June 1, 2016, 10:40 PM   #16
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I'd say you were being sized up for a robbery of some sort.
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Old June 2, 2016, 09:29 AM   #17
g.willikers
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A fellow I know has about the perfect send off for anyone bothering him on the street.
When they come up to him with what ever story, without a word of conversation, he just cocks his arm back as if he's about to punch them.
He did it once when I was with him.
Worked like a charm - the person approaching couldn't make a reverse and down the road fast enough.
I asked this fellow if he had ever actually thrown a punch and he said it had never been necessary.
Just a thought.
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Old June 2, 2016, 02:56 PM   #18
johnwilliamson062
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Polite, not friendly.
Helpful, not friendly.

Consider a walking stick. It has a considerable deterrent effect. Quite handy against feral dogs also.
Everyone likes "takedown"
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Old June 2, 2016, 11:03 PM   #19
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I do understand that not everyone is able to carry all the time. I even understand that some who are able to -- may not wish to carry all the time.

I cannot really understand why someone who would go to the trouble of detailing an "after action report" with all kinds of discussion about situational awareness... on the 'nets finest gun forum, in the tactics & training area of the site... would CHOOSE to go out for a stroll unarmed.

To be candid, I actually think it's ludicrous. And I say this because if you DO have the license and you DO have the carry hardware (and you seem to have the mindset...) then you must actually believe you can predict when there is a cold chill in the air and bad stuff is going to go down. And maybe you select those particular times and places to carry?

That's not a great idea either. Better to stay home on those days.
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Old June 3, 2016, 04:57 AM   #20
Mainah
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If I had been carrying at the time and conducted myself in the same way that morning I still would have ended up with a potential criminal behind me before I had time to react. Unless I considered the implications of walking into a potentially bad situation while armed. In any case I'll concede that the whole point of this discussion is that I made at least one mistake.
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Old June 3, 2016, 06:57 AM   #21
johnwilliamson062
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I cannot really understand why someone who would go to the trouble of detailing an "after action report" with all kinds of discussion about situational awareness... on the 'nets finest gun forum, in the tactics & training area of the site... would CHOOSE to go out for a stroll unarmed.
'If all one has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail'
Even if she had been trying to steal it and she ran to the car, shooting her obviously wasn't warranted.
I'm not sure stolen cell phones are all that valuable in the US anymore. I never hear much about them.
Sounds a lot more like they had a fight and she walked off then decided that wasn't such a great idea.
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Old June 3, 2016, 08:18 AM   #22
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I do understand that not everyone is able to carry all the time. I even understand that some who are able to -- may not wish to carry all the time.

I cannot really understand why someone who would go to the trouble of detailing an "after action report" with all kinds of discussion about situational awareness... on the 'nets finest gun forum, in the tactics & training area of the site... would CHOOSE to go out for a stroll unarmed.

To be candid, I actually think it's ludicrous. And I say this because if you DO have the license and you DO have the carry hardware (and you seem to have the mindset...) then you must actually believe you can predict when there is a cold chill in the air and bad stuff is going to go down. And maybe you select those particular times and places to carry?

That's not a great idea either. Better to stay home on those days.
I'm willing to bet that most of us on here can mention multiple times where being aware or some other non-violent mindset or action has prevented us from being in a situation we did not want to be in.

I am also willing to bet that the vast majority of us have never actually used (or even brandished) our firearms.

There are a lot of reasons some of us do not carry all of the time. Should we? Probably. Do I? Frankly quite often when it is just me out and alone I don't. I'm REALLY good at retreat and when I don't have my children with me there are very few extremely unlikely scenarios that would involve a firearm.
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Old June 3, 2016, 08:20 AM   #23
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How would being armed in this situation made a difference? Even if phone was stolen you going to threaten lethal force or even use lethal force for a cell phone? Even the gold plated android i-King daddy whatever hero phone being stolen does not justify lethal force or some states even threat of lethal force. Agree better situational awareness is warranted to avoid situation all together but I don't see that going any differently with CCW or without. Guns don't solve most situations. They may help if things went really bad. But remember the best weapon is between the ears and needs just more training and practice than any weapon you may carry
Just my $.02 and worth less
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Old June 3, 2016, 01:59 PM   #24
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What does the OP lose by taking his handgun with him when he leaves the house?

Agreed, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of this situation but that's pretty much true most of the time. So, why carry at all?
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Old June 3, 2016, 04:57 PM   #25
Mainah
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My decisions about when to carry are based on a variety of factors. But it's just a personal calculation. I'm not here to pass judgment on what others decide about carrying.
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