Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"How to spot a bad guy"

That's the opening of the title of a new article from Greg Ellifritz, whom we've met in these pages before.

It was day time on a crowded big-city street in a country far from home.  It seems my girlfriend and I attracted the attention of a gang of bag thieves.

I noticed a guy on an opposite street corner talking on a cell phone.  He caught my attention when he seemed to be pointing us out to some unseen other person.  As soon as he pointed at us we picked up a tail.  Two guys appeared out of nowhere and started following us very closely.  The dude on the cell phone supervised from a distance.

I slowed down our walking pace.  So did our followers. Not a good sign.  The man on the phone paralleled us from across the street.  I made a quick stop and forced our followers to walk past.  They didn’t like that at all and we could tell that it screwed up their plan.

It was quite the study in the criminal assault paradigm.  The two men were obviously together, but walking a half step apart to seem separate.  They weren’t talking.  One guy was pretending to look at a cell phone in a very unnatural posture (trying to look inconspicuous). The other was giving off constant “grooming cues” touching his face, neck, and hair as he nervously kept looking over his shoulder to check our position.

They were obviously up to something.  I warned my girlfriend and slowed the pace even more.  The two guys slowed down as well, keeping the same distance between us.  In between nervous strokes of his neck, I saw one of the men dart his hand into his pocket.  He pulled it out and had something gold and metallic-colored in his palm.  I couldn’t tell what it was, but it looked like brass knuckles of some sort.  Go time.

I maneuvered aggressively between my girlfriend and the two men so that I could give her a chance to get away as I accessed my knife.  She saw what I was doing (without knowing what had prompted my draw) and was astute enough to say “Hey! Let’s check out this restaurant!” as she pulled me into an eatery we were passing.  Smart girl.  The crooks kept walking and I didn’t have to stab anyone.

Pre-assault indicators are universal.  It doesn’t matter whether you are at home or abroad.  Be alert when you start seeing any predatory movement patterns or deliberate approaches in a crowd.

There's more at the link.

Greg goes into body language and behavioral indicators that an assault or other crime is about to be committed.  It's a good article, and covers a lot of the basics.  It's essential reading to be informed about how to spot someone who's selected you as a target, and is trying to set you up for an attack or choose the right moment to take you.

Highly recommended reading, particularly for everyone in a crowded urban environment who may be accustomed to "tuning out" the people around them, and walking with their eyes glued to a smartphone display or bopping to the beat of music in their earbuds.  Both are very bad ideas.



1LLoyd said...

An excellent example of being aware of what is going on around you. And the reaction of the girlfriend was as good, or better -- spot an action that stops the potential for trouble with the minimum of violence (zero).

I echo your recommendation for reading.

bandmeeting said...

I’m honestly not trying to be Mr. Know It All but wouldn’t ducking into a restaurant or other public venue off of the street be the first thing he would do?

Tal Hartsfeld said...

I don't get earbuds anyway. Don't people have home stereos anymore?
The world isn't your "living room" or "bedroom" you know!

Banshee said...

Re: the first thing he would do --

People tend to focus on certain things when the adrenaline is going. This guy was focusing on potential human opponents, not on his physical surroundings. (Reasonable, because walls won't attack you.)

Meanwhile, the girlfriend was focusing on surroundings, and was able to see a way to get out of there.

Two heads and two sets of eyes really can be better than one, especially when things are stressful. Obviously it would be better to have all things in mind, but that doesn't happen with most people.

Banshee said...

Re: earbuds, it depends how high you have the music turned up. Some people are more alert with a soundtrack, although that's not the way to bet.