Op-Ed by Tom Preston:
The Coronavirus dilemma is inspiring increased wearing of masks by concerned men and women when out in public.
Generally, those with traditional health or surgical type facial coverings do so to help prevent illnesses, protect immune systems or not spread their own germs.
Right now this isn’t always the case. Coronavirus fears grant criminals additional opportunities to hide identities. It can occur in a seemingly legitimate manner as they approach potential victims to rob, intimidate, physically harm or even murder.
A safety reminder, therefore, is appropriate. Without becoming paranoid or suspicious of everyone donning facial shields, being increasingly on guard is wise if anything disquieting transpires in his or her presence by a masked stranger.
The thug might phrase innocent sounding questions: “Where’s the nearest hospital,” or “I’m looking for Dr. (so-and-so’s) office;” perhaps a simple excuse: “What time is it?” Verbal expressions like these are designed to catch you off-guard . . . to get dangerously close. Remember, individuals masking for proper reasons will respect your maintaining adequate distance.
On the other hand, with key identity well protected a confident offender might just appear, quietly show a weapon and demand valuables.
If approached, maintain distance. If threatened, try remembering details about the perpetrator – eyes, tattoos, clothing, voice, odor, size, etc. Doing so aids law enforcement. Observe hands and general movements. Note nervous tendencies if the stranger surveys surroundings oddly. And don’t forget, the bad guy or gal frequently will have a partner lurking nearby.
When a weapon is involved, be compliant. Your life is priority! Anyone legally carrying concealed should be familiar with when and how or how not to respond. Creditable carriers’ actions must always consider innocent, defenseless citizens.
Astute retail managers realize how important updated incident training is for cash-handling employees, particularly when uncommon ploys emerge.
Crooks thrive on infrequent circumstances abetting their evil ways. Here’s a perfect example. Don’t let them outsmart you.
Mr. Preston, founder of Preston Global, specializes in prevention of and response to daunting crises, emergencies and other such occurrences. His background is military, counterterrorism, private sector and both federal and state government roles including Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. He may be contacted at email@example.com.