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Old June 27, 2009, 08:51 PM   #1
Rich Miranda
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My experience being robbed and kidnapped

This happened in my hometown of Bell Gardens, California. It was December, 1992. I was 18 and home from college for the holiday.

My dad had me go to Food4Less to pick up a few groceries. It was almost exactly 10 PM when I went into the store. I walked out about a half hour later. The parking lot was moderately lit. I’m not sure if there was any security or not.

As I walked toward my car, I noticed two Hispanic gangbanger-type guys, walking in my direction. They were very close to each other, touching elbows in fact. I sensed they were acting oddly, but didn’t think much of it. We passed each other without incident, and I just assumed they were headed to the store. I did notice them make a sudden change of direction just after we passed. Again, I dismissed it.

As I reached the car, I opened the door, sat down and put the bag of groceries on the seat next to me. Suddenly, I felt cold steel against my left cheek. I knew it was a gun, held by Bad Guy #1. He told me to scoot over. I did. Then he told me to get in the back seat, which I did by climbing over the seat. BG#1 then told BG#2 to go around and get in the back seat with me. When BG#2 got in the back seat, I saw BG#1 insert a magazine into the gun. He then handed it to BG#2 and said, “If he sees my face, shoot him.” I took this as my cue to look at my lap, and only my lap. BG#1 started the car and drove out of the parking lot. I had been kidnapped.

As we drove, I prayed. I was not a Christian then, but I believed. They methodically took my wallet, cash, jewelry, watch, even the groceries. The ride was only about five minutes but felt like hours. I only ever looked down the whole time. I felt the car pull into a driveway and stop. BG#1 said, “We’re getting out here. Wait five minutes before you leave. If anyone comes looking for us, we’ll go and kill your family.” He had my license, so it was a valid threat. Then they left.

I waited about three minutes before looking up. I half expected them to still be standing there, but they weren’t. I got in the driver seat and left. When I got home, my dad saw my empty hands and asked me where the groceries were. I told him I had been robbed. I went into my room and sat on the bed, shell-shocked. I just stared into space. I’m not sure I could even process what had just happened. It took me about 15 minutes to even shed tears.

17 years later, I’m still stupid, but I have learned a few things along the way. I will try to list some of the more basic here:
  • I should not have gone to the store at 10 PM.
  • I should have consciously parked in a well-lit area.
  • I should have been much more aware of my surroundings and alarm bells should have gone off when the (eventual) BGs were acting weird.
  • I should have turned right back around and into the store if I felt something was not right.
  • I should have been scanning 360 degrees as I walked into the lot.
  • Once I noticed the BGs change direction, I should have done the exact same thing, turn around and walk back into the store.
For the record, I am half Mexican and a sometime (as a teen) gangbanger myself (albeit a wannabe one). In Bell Gardens, gangbangers were a common sight. Their mere presence was not cause for concern. But I did miss the very obvious signs that something was not right.

I never did call the police. There was too much risk, I felt, for the death threat to be realized. They had my address and I had never gotten a good look at their faces anyway.

This experience has colored my life. I am much more conservative and “law and order” than my peers, and I think it is because of this. Further, I strongly believe in the right to carry which, while not the reason I left California, is one major reason I didn’t return.

Most importantly, I have learned that I was in “Condition White” that night. I don’t generally use the terms “Condition White”, “Yellow”, etc., but I now understand their meaning. Never again will I be that unaware. I don’t blame myself, though. I was just a child. I fully believe the Lord protected me that night, and I thank him for it.

I have posted this here hoping that you, or someone you love, can learn something from it and be safer.

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Old June 27, 2009, 09:14 PM   #2
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Wow... At least you know what to do now. Thanks for giving us a mental wakeup.
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Old June 27, 2009, 09:20 PM   #3
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Excellent post. To always learn from others experiences is as important as training.
Thank you.
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Old June 27, 2009, 09:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting that. Good wake up call.

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Old June 27, 2009, 10:02 PM   #5
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Geeze Rich, 17 yrs laters to post about it. What took you so darn long son for the wake up call. Good post though and your story gave me the willies.Thats it for me going out for late nite snacks.
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Old June 27, 2009, 10:18 PM   #6
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Glad it turned out well for you. May the Lord bless you and keep you and your famly safe.
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Old June 27, 2009, 10:39 PM   #7
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That's a scary story. :/ It's one of the best illustrations I've read here on why situational awareness and listening to your instincts are important.
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Old June 28, 2009, 12:20 AM   #8
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Violence is a learning process if you survive. I'm glad that you did and hope that you've learned how to protect yourself.

I encountered it a few times during the drug wars around the Ft. Lauderdale area in the '70's. I was NOT a participant, just had friends who were. I was witness to a few arguments between my friends and higher level dealers that did not know that a pistol (mine) was pointed at them.

A 'brother' tried to rob me in grid-lock traffic by accosting me from the passenger side window. Porsche's didn't have A/C back then. Downside for him, I'd just picked up a Super Blackhawk that was tuned for quickdraw competition. Ooops!

Another time. I swing into the back lot of a neighborhood bar and see my youngest brother in a 5 on 1. He's 6'4" and #3 Thai boxer in the region, no kitten but also no Bruce Lee. He fixin' to lose big time. One shot into the pavement with a Charter Arms .380 diffused the situation.

I've got a few more including some long range shots. And this is just the fun stuff.
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Old June 28, 2009, 12:50 AM   #9
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Wow! Glad you're still here to tell the tale! Thanks!
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum....

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Old June 29, 2009, 11:14 AM   #10
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Thanks for posting this, Rich. It's a great lesson. We're glad you survived, and glad you learned.

Originally Posted by matolman1
To always learn from others experiences is as important as training.
In fact, it's probably the essence of training, as distinct from practice...
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Old June 29, 2009, 12:44 PM   #11
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Thank you.

You have provided very sobering information that one can only hopes comes across to others.

Take care and stay safe.

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Old June 29, 2009, 01:34 PM   #12
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let me start by saying that I have not been through such a horrible situation and I can't know what it's like to go through such. but I do have on question for you.
I should not have gone to the store at 10 PM.
Granted I am not familiar with the area but I wonder if that type of thought is self defeating, I may be way off here, and please take no offense but I feel like when we decide to give ourselfs such a curfew to let the thugs have the night we have already lost.
Just my opinion.
thank god you walked away safe. thanks for sharing your experiance
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Old June 29, 2009, 01:50 PM   #13
Big Ugly Tall Texan
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Stuff happens

You kept your cool, survived and learned.

But don't beat yourself up too much. We had an El Paso county commissioner who was mugged recently after making some pretty basic mistakes - if his story is true... and it sounds like the BS tell Gov. Sanford told.

His story is, he was going home at 11 p.m. and decided to get a cup of coffee.

11 p.m., going home and wanted coffee.

He went to a McDonalds that is not exactly in the best part of town. He parked and went inside.

Parked and went inside to get a cup of coffee on his way home and didn't just go through the drive-thru.

He took his laptop inside with him - to get a cup of coffee on his way home in a bad part of town at 11 p.m. Could have maybe locked it in his truck.

When he came back out, he noticed a couple of Cholo (thug) types around his truck and noticed a dent. Instead of going back inside the building and dailing 911, he walked up to them.

They mugged him and took his laptop.

Not the sharpest tack in the box.

And, in case you think I'm making this up, here's a link:
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Old June 29, 2009, 06:08 PM   #14
Rich Miranda
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Thanks all, for the comments.

I definitely did learn a lot from that experience. I would consider myself in the 90th percentile(+) as far as being situationally aware these days. Most importantly, the lessons I learned then help me to keep my family safe now.

Read this!: I collect .38 Special and .357 Mag cartridges and I will PAY CASH for the headstamps I don't already have! Please PM me.
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Old June 29, 2009, 06:30 PM   #15
Doc Intrepid
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...and thats probably the most important outcome of all.

Thanks for posting your incident.

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Old June 29, 2009, 06:31 PM   #16
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Thank you for posting a wake-up call for us. Never hurts to get a reminder once in a while.

Fortunately, I have never been through such an ordeal and hope I never do. I try to learn from others' experiences and I try to be aware of my surroundings wherever I go, especially at night and try to avoid high risk places. However, I have been known to go to the 24-hr grocery store late at night on many occasions, but I try to park close to the building and in well lit areas.

I'm glad that you were able to come out such a harrowing ordeal physically unscathed.

I have no doubt that this was a huge lesson for you.

Thanks again.
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Old June 30, 2009, 10:22 AM   #17
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As others have said, thanks for posting & a wake up call for all us. God bless you & your family.
"Blessed be the Lord my strength,which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight".
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Old July 10, 2009, 02:03 PM   #18
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Thank you for sharing.
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Old August 1, 2009, 10:59 PM   #19
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Live and learn. I once watched my friend get a 9 put to his temple. Made me start thinking of how to preven senerios as well
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Old August 2, 2009, 03:27 PM   #20
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Long about 1986 or so, a co-worker relayed a story to me about a good friend of his. Unfortunately it happened right in MY neighborhood in an area where I frequently ride my bike. He was stopped on a side street around midnight waiting to pull onto the main thoroughfare when a gun was put to his head through his side window. "Get out!" A black man with a black woman in tow then demanded his wallet, but his main fear was the woman kept saying, "shoot him Johnny, shoot him Johnny." In his words, she was definitely high on something. The man simply asked, "How fast can you run, boy?" He said something along the lines of, "I can hold my own." He said, "Well, here's your chance to see if you can outrun a bullet. Move your ass down that street!" and he pointed back down the side street. He ran like he had never run before, dodging and weaving, but he never heard a shot. After a few minutes he cautiously went back and his car was still there and still running. His wallet was discarded near the car. Gone were all the credit cards and cash, about $150, but his ID and pictures were still intact. He was elated though, and considered himself very fortunate.

Especially since this was in my own neighborhood, my head has been on a swivel ever since, so much so that my wife sometimes considers me paranoid. And forums like this have given me even more self-preservation tools than I could elaborate. Your story is simple reinforcement of those self-preservation attitudes. Thanks for sharing it.
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Old August 2, 2009, 11:20 PM   #21
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I once watched my friend get a 9 put to his temple.
A 9, huh?
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