While the continued recession plagues our economy, crime rates continue to soar in response.  Past studies all conclude the following: unemployment and crime rates mirror each other…they rise and fall with each other.  As more and more people become unemployed, it creates an uncomfortable situation within our community…a “criminal breeding ground” one might say.  The chance of being targeted as a potential victim is no longer if, but when.

However there are things we can do to make ourselves a “Hard Target.”  What is a hard target you ask?  A hard target is someone a criminal will pass in favor of another “easier” target.  In the tactical world, we call this easy target a “soft target.”  These soft targets generally appear like someone who won’t resist, can be easily predicted, and/or is not situationally aware of their surroundings.  The fact is, most criminals are lazy and do not want a challenge. They are looking for an easy ambush…an easy victim.  So the more things we can do to “harden” ourselves makes us less likely to be a potential victim.

One of the easiest things we can do is to “change it up.”  It’s safe to say that people tend to follow a certain routine on a daily basis.  Criminals love this.  It might be leaving for work at a certain time or walking the dog after dinner. The problem is not you, but the other people out there also watching your daily rituals.  Criminal’s feed off of easy prey or potential victims and the more they can predict, the better they like it.  The more they know about you, the easier it is for them to choose you as their target.

Try taking a different route to work in the morning or changing up the times you walk your dog or go for a jog.  If your employer allows it, try switching up the times you go to lunch.  And of course, always travel in pairs if this is an option.  The more you change things up, the less likely you will be a potential victim!

Be proactive in your community; know who belongs and who doesn’t.  Don’t be afraid to use that “command voice” you have tucked away to lure off possible criminals.  Check to make sure your outside lights work.  Criminals love the dark.  It’s these little things you can do to make yourself a Hard Target.

Chris Patten