So for in our series we’ve discovered it is important to pay attention to what is going on around you and what you need to be looking for. In part 3, we will discuss pre-event indicators and how we need to perceive them.
Bad guys have some tells no matter how experienced they are at their “craft.” These are called pre-event indicators. In plain terms, these are your warning signs. These are the subtle actions by the people who don’t fit into the situation. They are abnormal, they stand out from the baseline behavior for the environment.
The first pre-event indicator we’ll discuss is focus. If someone in an environment is paying too much attention to you or a member of your family, this should raise your awareness of that person. This does not mean you need to get up and run, after all you may resemble their high school best friend. But it does mean that they warrant a lot more of your focus to determine if they are going to be trouble. Look at their body language, if they seem comfortable you’re probably good to go. If they seem uncomfortable like shifting in their seat and pretending to on the phone while they are obviously watching you or your family, then you’ll need to split. Likewise a patron could be paying an awful lot of attention to the cash register at a gas station. This may be an indicator he is going to rob the store.
Another pre-event indicator is “checking you six.” Checking your six, as you might surmise, is when someone seems to be looking around to see if anyone is following them. This might be done by turning abruptly on a sidewalk or changing course erratically. People who check their six are abnormal. Most moms don’t check behind them in the aisle at Target. But if you see a lady doing that, it might mean she’s a shoplifter. Now I do have a caveat here. I check my six. Does that mean I’m a bad guy? No, I’m just situationally aware. However, most people are not aware of what is going on around them. So observing someone checking behind them frequently requires more attention from you to make a decision about what to do next.
The big one you need to worry about is what Left of Bang refers to as “smuggling behavior.” Cue Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues” from Miami Vice. This doesn’t mean you need to look for heroin inside a shipment of teddy bears. Smuggling behavior is when someone has something of value on them they do not want seen by someone else. I’m sure your children have done this a thousand times!
The most popular smuggling behavior is when someone repeatedly touches their pocket knife or common areas where concealed guns are carried because they are checking to see if it is still there. This indicates to you that they may have a weapon. Now before we go too far, concealed weapon permits are common in most states. Just because you see someone touching their belt area does not mean they are a bad guy, it may mean they are a concealed weapon carrier who isn’t confident in their carry set up. So then how to do you tell? Let’s go back to body language and the environment.
For example, if a man is touching his belt frequently standing in line at McDonald’s this should draw your attention. Then look to see if he is by himself. If his presumed wife is with him and their child, then chances are you are okay. If the same guy is alone, shuffling his feet and “checking his six” then you might have a problem. You need to keep your pre-event indicators in context. I know this sounds confusing, but being situationally aware and listening to your intuition is easy to do with some practice.
Now you know that you should be aware of your surroundings and a few simple things to look for. In the next part of this series, I will discuss what you need to do if you feel threatened.