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Personal Protection From Crime

At some point in your life, you may run the risk of being a victim of crime.

Instead of feeling frightened, however, safety expert Tom Patire says you can feel empowered if you know how to protect yourself.

Patire's newest book, "Personal Protection Handbook," is full of tips for protecting yourself and your family. When he wrote this book, he went right to the source, talking to people who were serving time. They all told him, "We didn't choose the victims, they chose themselves."

Patire tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "The bad guy is standing in the wings looking around and sees the person on the cell phone looking at the ground or the air and they become an easy mark. Most people will park their car real quick and rush to the store and forget where they parked their car and wander loosely around out there and who comes? The bad guy."

He says women in particular are easy targets for a couple of reasons. "Number one is because they always have a long list of things to do, "Patire says. "Number two, the biggest thing the bad guy says is, they like to talk and air out what they're going to do: I'm going to go here, I'm going to do this and see somebody. All they (bad guys) do is stay in the shadows and listen while we talk and that's why we become a target."

He demonstrated some of his safety suggestions. Watch the video.

Patire says the "Personal Protection Handbook" is designed to empower readers by helping them realize that they can easily keep themselves
and their families safe.

Cell phone victims

As part of his research for this book, Patire interviewed several inmates and former inmates. He says almost all of the inmates he interviewed told him that they saw women on cell phones as good targets. Anyone on a cell phone is pre-occupied with her conversation and not focusing on her surroundings.

Kids as victims

If you have children, you're no longer worried about simply keeping yourself safe; you are also responsible for your children's safety. Patire says parents should be aware that the places where they are most likely to let down their guard are the times when their kids are in the most danger, such as in busy supermarkets or other large stores. Patire also points out that anyone who is going to lure a child away will probably strike near a door or exit. This allows them to make a fast escape.

Patire gives the following tips for keeping your child safe:

  • Don't let a child lag behind: Patire says it's much easier for you to keep a constant eye on your child if he or she is in front of you or beside you.
  • Protect personal information: Patire says criminals will use any piece of information they overhear to lure your child. Seemingly innocent nuggets of information such as your child's favorite toy or his brother's name can potentially be used to the criminal's advantage.
  • Create a code question: Agree on a question such as, "What is my grandma's name?" that your child can ask a person who approaches them. Only a select few should know the answer. If the person doesn't know the answer, your child will know not to go anywhere with him.
  • Identify safety zones: Patire says wherever you are, wherever you go, you should always keep an eye out for places you can turn if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, such as well-maintained houses with lights on, libraries, banks, office buildings, or restaurants.

    Shops also make good safety zones, but Patire warns that those that cater to an adult clientele are better than those that cater to young people. Stores catering to adults tend to hire salespeople who are older and more mature, and who are therefore are more likely to respond quickly and calmly when they see that someone's in trouble.

    Distract Loved One From Harm

    As parents, you want to shield your child from experiencing, seeing, or, if possible, even being aware of violence and danger. Patire says if your family happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, you should know how to distract and move your child out of harm's way.

    Confronting danger

    Unfortunately, at some point you may come face to face with someone who is robbing or attacking you. What do you do? Patire says if the criminal is simply asking you for money, give it to him. Listen closely to what he has to say and answer his questions directly. Chances are the robbery will happen quickly and as soon as he gets what he wants, he'll leave.

    If the attacker physically grabs you, you need to be prepared to fight back. When it comes to fighting back physically, Patire advises people to "confuse, then leave" or "stun and run." The less physical you have to be and the less time you have to spend near your attacker, the better. People who have taken self-defense or martial arts classes often forget what they've learned because they've only used the moves in very controlled, classroom situations.

    Patire says once a victim has run 20 feet while screaming or otherwise drawing attention to himself, the bad guy will flee to avoid being caught.