Avoid Becoming a Victim with 3 Simple Tests

What do crooks look for? Why do burglars pick one house over another? What does a terrorist look for in a target? What do ordinary criminals and terrorists have in common for that matter?

Crooks and terrorists may not be so different after all. No matter how evil their intent, he (or she) must still select a target in order to carry out their plan. Robbery suspects first look for the loot before planning their heists. Burglars look for evidence that no one is home and terrorists want a big bang (literally) for their buck – high publicity.

One well-known bank robber is credited with the statement that he robbed banks because “that is where the money is.” A robber wants to gain something – that is the whole point of the crime. They want to make sure that the quick win is on hand. Many are feeding drug habits, gambling addiction or alcohol. With these kinds of cravings or obsessions, there is no time to waste. They are looking for something of value that can be turned around quickly for cash or traded for drugs.

1.      Value – The goal is some kind of gain or value. For a terrorist, the value may be high publicity, such as a famous building or critical infrastructure or large number of potential victims. For crooks, it may just be something worth stealing.

Favorite targets of robbers are convenience stores and taxi drivers. It is not too hard to figure out why – both are easy to find and convenient to the crook. In fact, two recent suspects in Denver have called the taxis to their location in order to rob the driver. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that – the victim comes to the crook. These are examples of highly visible targets. Terrorists like visibility too, but in a slightly different way. They want a target that will generate a lot of publicity and garner their group the visibility and attention. Blowing up a bomb in the middle of the desert will not get that attention, as compared to blowing up a crowded nightclub or embassy.

2.     Visible – The target must be visible; crooks have to know it is there and an attack must generate the kind of visibility a terrorist wants. Schools, landmarks or crowded venues will offer that kind of media attention and visibility.

Of course, the crook must be able to achieve their nefarious goal or at least have a hope of it. The famous gold depository at Fort Knox would be an example of something that is highly visible, of high value, but with little chance of success. A terrorist might love to steal a missile from the military, but the chances of getting to it are nil. There is virtually no vulnerability.

3.     Vulnerable – The victim must be susceptible to attack to be a worthwhile target. That is why burglars look for homes with unlocked doors or muggers wait for victims in areas of poor lighting. There is easy access and the element of surprise to help the attacker. Terrorists also need targets that are open to attack. On 9-11, it was relatively easy for terrorists to hijack planes and fly them into the WTC. Today, many of the vulnerabilities that the terrorists exploited have been eliminated.

As an individual or responsible for protecting your business, keep the 3 V’s in mind – Value, Visible and Vulnerable. Evaluate the value that criminals may see in your business. Maintain low visibility when possible to minimize the chance of becoming a target. Last, use appropriate steps to reduce your risk or vulnerability to avoid being a victim.

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.  To learn more email eric@businesskarate.com.



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