I’m referring to the 2-legged variety of predators. The shrewd and cunning type. The type that strikes indiscriminately without a motive. The answer is that they very likely are and all dressed up as trusted company representatives.
This case in my local area is making a lot of news nationwide. A FedEx driver abducted a 7-yr old girl from her driveway while delivering a package and killed her within an hour. Everyone in my area around Austin, and likely most of Texas, saw all the amber alerts sent out over the phone network and FB posts to be on the lookout. Then days later they announced her body had been found. Disgust aside, this brings up a topic about personal safety and how do we all go about being safer and more aware. How do we do that? How do we keep our children safer? That will be addressed in just a bit. But, it’s important to know about a few more instances.
This case is very disturbing. It reports about several shockingly brutal murders by cable repair technicians. In one case, the perpetrator tried to kill his female victim 8 different terrifying ways! Another case talks about a serial rapist and murderer that was reported to his employer for inappropriate sexual remarks by a previous customer. They can hardly plead that they didn’t know, right? This whole article is difficult and shocking to read.
What ties these cases together?
People coming to and/or into your home aren’t being vetted well by their employers. Predators who should have had thorough background checks got only a cursory one if at all. Who reading this has never had to have a technician/repair person/delivery come to and/or inside their home? And, older people need more help as they aren’t able to perform a lot of these tasks for themselves thus making them more vulnerable. The delivery and cable industries are likely not alone in lax background checks. I would also expect to see this rampant in plumbing, pest control, tow truck drivers, electricians, etc. Most companies are running short staffed and trying to get enough employees to service the calls that come in. Their focus is going to be on making a profit, not our safety. These articles and many others you could look up prove that point.
What can we do?
There are many ways to make ourselves less vulnerable.
- Vet every contractor you use thoroughly. Take the time. Go to Yelp, Angie’s List, google business, FB community boards and your network.
- Ask any contractors their policy on background checks. Get them to email you that policy.
- Have a plan with your children. Talk to them in age appropriate language about stranger danger.
- Have any unannounced utility workers wait at your door while you call their company to verify they have technicians at your house for some reason. Get their badge/employee number so you can verify.
- Have someone at your house if possible. This can be difficult considering the “time windows” we all now get.
- Be on the phone with someone while they are in your home.
- Talk to them through the door. Is it necessary to go outside?
- If a technician comes back later or days later, do not let them in if you can’t reach their office. It will just have to wait.
- Don’t be overly chatty. Keep it professional. Predators look to make a connection so you will see them as a friendly type and let them back in. Stop worrying about whether you are nice or not.
- Take a class to understand what criminals look for in their victims. The NRA course “Refuse to be a Victim” and the USCCA “Conceal Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals” both have terrific content about situational awareness and ways to reduce becoming a victim across a swatch of locations and scenarios.
- Research types of crimes happening in your area. Many times there are crime rings concentrated in specific areas. Then they move to another area doing the same things all over again.
- NEVER give any personal information out over the phone unless you personally know them such as your doctor’s office, etc.
- If having a large item delivered have them leave it where the contract specifies. A friend got a large item delivered that was supposed to get dropped on her porch. The “very nice” man offered to bring it in her house and put it wherever she wanted. It happened to be damaged so the item was rejected. It will be delivered on the porch and she will have other help to move it inside.
- Rent a post office box at a Mail Boxes, Etc. type of place and have all deliveries routed there.
- Have a weapon of some sort close by. A gun is a great equalizer. If you go this route, seek out a certified firearms instructor to get training. But pepper spray, taser, baseball bat, etc. could all help you escape provided you are paying attention. Hint hint, situational awareness mentioned above.
- Talk to your loved ones and dear ones. Let them know that these types of things happen all the time. Help them develop a good plan.
- Never stop paying attention!
People who prey on others are all around us. It’s hard to think and talk about these issues when you feel safe in your own home, or on your own driveway as a little kid. But, the sad fact is that they are always lurking, watching and choosing victims. These things are happening in YOUR nice neighborhood. Its a gross feeling to research crime in your area and see how brutal and common it is everywhere. But, burying our heads in the sand doesn’t really help. Ignorance is dangerous. Awareness is enabling. I challenge you to become more aware of your surroundings and develop a Personal & Home Protection Plan. You are worth it!
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