The news about violent crimes in the main cities of the nation, are usually in the minds of Venezuelan residents. The authority’s ability to stop this crime wave is quite questionable, and most people feel highly exposed and at risk in the concrete jungle where predators threaten to attack anytime, anywhere. The crime rate is outrageous for both locals and visitors, and there doesn’t seem to be any possible short term improvement. But, it’s worth wondering: Are we doing everything we can to avoid becoming victims of a criminal attack? Do we know what to do? How to act when facing an attacker to try and mitigate the damages? If we can’t count on an efficient response from the authorities, then it’s necessary for us to generate individual and collective active and passive measures to protect our personal integrities.
Looking to contribute with that purpose, in this and upcoming issues we will touch on personal and family safety issues, however, we must warn you that our suggestions are not the only recipes, and it will be each person’s judgment, experience and personal knowledge, properly combined with a good dose of serenity, what will ultimately generate efficient results to overcome the tensions of being victims of a criminal action.
Protect your family: prepare a family security plan
Our home is our sanctuary, the center of our personal universe, a “controlled environment” we constantly try to strengthen with active and passive security measures to protect our loved ones. But, once out of the house, they are no longer under our protective cloak, becoming exposed, and then it is luck and whatever knowledge they may have about personal security what will allow them to foresee unsafe situations in order to avoid becoming victims of criminal attacks. To help protect our family in this context, the best defense is to make them aware of the dangers they are exposed to, so they can anticipate themselves to any potential danger in order to plan their actions for whenever they may need them.
We recommend having a family meeting to talk about the most frequent crimes that take place in our cities, which we are exposed to: armed robbery, kidnapping, armed burglary and extortion. It is necessary to draw a security plan using the “WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF…” technique.
We know this is an unpleasant topic to discuss, but it is necessary to be clear about it in order to know what to do in a given opportunity. For instance, families can establish strategies and courses of action regarding what to do and say in case one of their members become the victim of an Express or Long-term kidnapping, who they should call first, what to say and not to say to the criminals, how to behave in front of the kidnappers, what attitude to assume, etc. It is also very important to develop an argumentative script to be consistent when the time comes in order to avoid ambiguities during the negotiation process, since a single slip could aggravate the situation. It is also recommended to know what to do in case of an extorting or threatening call, what to do to get “unhooked” from the extorter, and what precautions to take.
But, what do we need a tentative plan for? When we don’t have a plan and an attack takes place, we leave the resolution of every problem in the hands of our instinct and, what if we have the wrong reaction or our actions are inappropriate? The answer to this question is in the countless number of cases in which people have lost their lives due to inconvenient reactions in front of criminals who have no respect for human life or are simply so nervous they can’t control their reactions either. Having a plan, as simple as it may be, will give us confidence, will allow us to assess the situation and choose the best option when the times comes. But in order for the plan to work, it needs to be rehearsed, and that’s how families can turn such a delicate topic into an interesting activity.
It’s worth adding that a little training in personal security will always be very convenient, especially to add the knowledge of prevention and internalize it as a daily practice until it becomes a habit.
To develop a family security plan it is also convenient to consider the household members’ routines, the areas they frequent, the incidence of crime in such areas, and make them aware that crimes are not random, but somehow provoked by ourselves when we are unaware in unsafe environments, thus inviting criminals to attack; it is necessary to emphasize that before engaging, criminals make a cost/benefit analysis of attacking, weighing up their risks and their possible rewards, and they usually do not take risks against potential victims who look aware. Likewise, it is important to warn our loved ones who’ve developed some kind of skill in terms of personal defense that they shouldn’t risk confronting criminals like in the movies, since in real life, things rarely turn out the same, and there are countless cases of deaths due to resistance.
The planning process includes all the preventive measures to be taken in order to avoid becoming victims, so it is important to teach our loved ones how to detect whether they’re being followed and stimulate and sharpen their observation skills as well as orienting them about the precautions to be taken in parking lots -such as not parking next to cars with people inside- what to do if they see subjects with suspicious behaviors before parking or when walking back to their vehicles. When returning home, you should not try to enter if you see strangers in the driveway or building gates, take into account that it is from these places where most Express kidnappings occur. Agree upon communication protocols in imminent danger situations, for instance, if being followed, call the mobile of the family member who will surely pick up the phone, the person we’ve agreed to call to inform of our situation, where we are and to whom we will describe whoever’s allegedly following us (vehicle make and model, color, license, subjects’ descriptions, etc.).
Finally, it is necessary to insist that in order to protect our families, the best defense is to make them aware of all the risks they are exposed to, so to allow them to anticipate potential dangers and plan their actions for when it’s necessary.