All In The Family

Now, Mom is getting in the picture with attacks on her person!

Sipping cocktails at a wedding reception last night, she goes on to tell me that someone tried to do a bump and run in the middle of some high-falutin' department store during the Christmas rush.

As Mom explains it, she was coming out of some restuarant at the Galleria Mall and stopped by Neimans on her way out. She was just shopping for some scarves or a sweater, heck, I don't know. Mom was in the accessories section about twenty feet inside the store on the mall side, not the street side, and she felt the bump. Mom turned and looked to see a non-descript white female in a track suit and sunglasses walk past. She did tighten her grip on her small clutch purse under her arm. The purse is what moved the most and is what got Mom's attention. She didn't give it the full attention and worry that I would have had it been me, but went right back to shopping.

Mom was still nosing around this section about five minutes later when she started to feel a tug at her shoulders. She adjusted her scarf and continued to shop unaware. A brief description is in order here before I continue. Mom was wearing a long skirt and matching tweed jacket. Around her neck and shoulders was a fancy scarf I got her for Christmas one year. She actually pinned the scarf to her jacket collar so it would not fall off!

Again, Mom felt the tug at her shoulders and realized that her scarf was slowly and almost unnoticably sliding off her shoulders. She grabbed in instinctively and the tug o' war was on. She turns and faces lil' Ms. Tracksuit. Tracksuit is still pulling on the scarf as if nothing is wrong. Mom tugs back and in her most commanding 'teacher' voice tells the lady to "Let Go, NOW!" Mom went on to forcefully talk while the woman was pulling on the scarf. A Houston Police Officer and one of Neiman's sales reps were immediately at her side to settle the confusion. Mom thinks that is an amazingly fast response for the store.

Lil' Ms. Tracksuit immediately claimed it was all a mistake. She thought Mom was done looking at the scarf and wanted to try it on. Mom let everyone in earshot know that the scarf was hers and she had no intention of taking it off. She also told the cop that she didn't know the woman, nor had she seen the woman before five minutes ago. The cop took Tracksuit by the arm and started to escort the her to the door. Tracksuit was still protesting when the cop took her to the mall entrance. She kept claiming it was all a mistake and asked to be let go. She stated she would leave voluntarily by the street side where her car was. The officer was kind enough to take her to the mall entrance (with the closest alarm tag detectors) and get her out of the store. Mom said he actually turned and winked at her as they walked past. Sure enough, the alarms went off and Tracksuit was detained for suspicion of shoplifting. I should mention that she was carrying two shopping bags full of merchandise while this was going on.

Mom can have a blond moment from time to time. She was having one in that store. Sure enough, her mind was on the merchandise and not her surroundings. It happens to lots of men and women during the Holiday Shopping Season. You get distracted with a myriad of things and forget all about personal safety and security. Crooks love this time of year because of that very reason. We open the door for theft and fraud to our person because we cannot focus enough on our personal security.

Thankfully, Mom's attention to style and comfort prevented her from losing a scarf and possibly her purse. I am also glad she taught so many 6th, 7th and 8th grade tweenagers for those many years. I know that voice, and I know that she could quell the L.A. Riots just by using that teacher tone. She was smart and brave to square off and confront the woman trying to rob her. She did right by attracting attention to herself. No criminal enjoys being outed by an observant person. Mom could have done much better by using a couple of different commands to get better attention: "STOP, DON'T MOVE!" "SHOW ME YOUR HANDS!" "DROP YOUR WEAPON!" The last one is my favorite because it will get the most witnesses. Someone in the crowd hears weapon, they will turn to see what the fuss is all about. That, and the criminal punk is most likely to throw his/her hands up and show that they don't have a weapon in their hands. Instructor Greg, while with Blackwater in New Orleans, used to do that to refugees who would try and mess with him in the field. Of course, being at the receiving end of an 870 or M4gery didn't hurt.

Mom could have done more to make herself less of a target. I told her she needs to have her head on a swivel. Just because there are employees around and cameras in the air doesn't mean she is protected. Being in a high dollar store at Christmas helped, but not much. Crime still happens. IG once told us about a study done at a mall. Some video footage was shot and shown to a bunch of career criminals. In this video, they were asked to point out all the people they would and would not rob. Each criminal picked out the victims with ease. These people were blissfully unaware of their surroundings and the people around them. They had their head in the clouds and focused on the stores, their cell phones, whatever, but not their own safety. Each of the people picked not to rob were looking around, had a swivel for a neck, moved with a purpose, and had an aura, or a certain type of body language that said, "Don't *bleep* with me!"

As it turns out, these men and women were police/security professionals of some type asked to participate. Through practice and training, they carry themselves in a different manner. These people are attuned to the warning signs of danger and know how to avoid bad things. I tried to relate this to Mom, but she is slow to catch on. Unfortunately, I think that she may learn the hard way that she needs to update her thinking. That is not to say she is a complete ditz in her personal safety. I have seen her do some very smart things in the past, and I know she can do it again. I need, however, to get her to commit to this 100% all of the time.

I have her and my sister, OC, coming by the range in a couple of days for some personal defensive training with our staff. Maybe hearing it from them will get their heads out of the sand.

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