Fed Up Woman Says Enough is Enough

When Monique Lawless entered the Texas Wal-Mart, she had no idea what she was going to run into.  As she was checking out, she saw three men stealing beer from the store and head out to the parking lot.  The store employees did not attempt to stop them, so she told the cashier to watch her purse and ran out after them.  She jumped onto their car as they tried to drive away, stomping on the windshield and sunroof before sliding off as they picked up speed. 
The three suspects were later arrested and it turned out that they were brothers, all with the name Sylvester.  No wonder they turned to a life of crime.
For years, we’ve heard law enforcement recommend against intervening in criminal acts and, as a society, we’ve learned the lesson and dutifully stopped becoming involved, giving crooks free reign.  Conventional security wisdom would say not to get mixed up and to only fight for your property.  Normally, that is even my advice when teaching security awareness classes. 
However, Monique bucked the trend and took a stand.  Why she reached her boiling point may never be known.  She deserves to be recognized as a true everyday hero.  Of course, the local police quickly warned that this kind of intervention was not recommended.
Maybe if more people stood up against crooks, thieves, and other miscreants, we would see criminals become the ones hiding and acting afraid, not innocent individuals.  Most bad guys are ultimately cowards.  That is even a large reason that street gangs hang out together.  When it comes down to it, they don’t have the courage to act alone.  By sheer numbers, they can intimidate and bully others. 
In this case, though, one average, everyday individual challenged three suspects, all alone.  And it ended well.  She walked away without serious injury and the bad guys went to jail.  More people standing up like this can help curtail, if not stop, crime. 
That doesn’t mean that you have to get physically involved or jump onto moving cars.  There are a lot of ways that each of us can step up and help put the bad guys behind bars.  Three basic guidelines will help you do the right thing for the situation.
1.      Be aware of your surroundings.
2.     Be a good witness.
3.     Take action.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.  Be aware.  Don’t ignore what is going on around you.  No matter what happens, if you don’t know about it, you cannot help.  In fact, this is the basis of any self-defense program or personal security.  Awareness is the fundamental and is critical to being street smart (Five Tips to Becoming Street Smart).  Monique was obviously aware of what the three suspects were doing.  It would have been easier to ignore it, pretend not to see it or be so distracted that she didn’t see it.
Next is to be a good witness.  Bad guys do not want attention and don’t want anyone watching them.  If you see something going on, make note of what the person is doing, how they are dressed and especially look for identifying marks.  The more obvious, the more likely the suspect will feel uncomfortable and want to move on quickly.  There are some exceptions, as during a robbery (read How to Survive a Robbery).
Last is to take action.  That doesn’t mean doing anything high risk or suicidal or even some movie-like stunt.  The action could be as simple as calling the police and waiting to give your statement to the officers.  Be willing to follow up by going to court later, if necessary.  Too often, witnesses disappear before police can get statements.  Stand up for what you saw.
Action may mean intervention.  That is a personal choice, but if someone is getting hurt and you are in a position to help then do so.  We’ve all heard the stories of attacks happening in front of dozens of witnesses, no one even called the police, and no one stepped in to help.  Remember to be safe.  If it is too dangerous then seek help, but take at least that action.
So Monique Lawless is a hero and her actions likely led to the suspects being arrested a short time later after a police pursuit.  Don’t mess with Texas.
As for me, I will continue to teach employees to fight for their life, not property.  However, I will also train others to follow the steps above and will never criticize someone for taking bold steps to stop a group of pathetic thieves.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Edmund Burke



  1. Eric,
    I wanted to thank you for not judging me for my actions. I am no hero, just an average woman who is so tired of everyone looking the other way and not taking some sort of action. I would love to see people start standing up to these thugs and to make a scene so that they realize we are going to fight back. My actions were extreme and I would not recommend jumping on a car but do something. Tell everyone around you what you are witnessing, get everyone watching. I just pray that if something ever happens to me or my family that others will react and not look the other way because it not their problem. Keep up the good work Eric. Blessings to you and your family. Monique Lawless

  2. Monique,

    First, I am honored to have you comment on this.

    Second, this generated a lot of discussion within the security industry and the majority of security professionals do see you as a hero. Truly, if more people would take a stand as you did that day, our society would be very different - and much better!

    You are an example of how we can each make a difference, just by standing up for what is right. I wish more people had the courage that you do. You really are a hero (or heroine, if you prefer)!

    If there is anything I can help with, please let me know. My email is eric@businesskarate.com.

    God bless you and your family too.