The People of the Gun constantly recommend maintaining “situational awareness.” And rightly so. The sooner you detect a criminal attack, the sooner you can defend against it, and the better your chances of evading, escaping or attacking. But there’s more to situational awareness than simply having it. You have to know when to raise it. To do that, you have to . . .

think like a criminal. Assess your surroundings as if you were the bad guy looking to attack.

The criminals’ main strategy: ambush. If a victim doesn’t see a bad guy or guys coming there’s less chance that the target will be able to mount resistance. Speed, surprise and violence of action. What works for you for self-defense works for them in an attack.

So criminals look for locations where they can surprise their victims. Alleys. Corners. Parking lots. Locations with places to hide: behind dumpsters and cars, around corners, etc. Places where escape is difficult.

By the same token, criminals are naturally averse to times and locations where there are people who might come to the aid of their victims. Hence the theft above: a nighttime attack on a relatively deserted street without pedestrians.

When you put yourself in the mindset of a criminal and find yourself in a time and place where a criminal attack could occur, turn on your bad guy radar. And think. What would I do if I was attacked here? What are my options? Run/cycle faster, place an object between myself and my attacker? Get ready to draw my firearm (e.g., make sure my gun is available and my gun hand is free)?

You’re a good guy. You wouldn’t attack an innocent person for any reason. But you live in a world where people do just that. Remember that fact, but don’t forget that your imagination can save your life.

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40 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Think Like a Criminal

  1. I once had my bike stolen from me when I was a little kid by two high school-aged guys similar to this. Was riding and they came by on a bike (both of them on the bike) and one jumped off, was like, “Get off the bike! Get off the bike!” to which frightened, I stopped and jumped off and off they went.

    In terms of avoiding bad guys, I think the term used is Strategic Avoidance. I.E., avoid or be on heightened alert when going through say alleyways, bathrooms in a mall (say a bathroom down a hallway and off to the side in a more back area of a mall), etc…another good thing to do is constantly check behind you if alone and especially if in a fairly deserted area.

    • I cycle all the time. Got a Glock 42 specifically for cycling. Mainly because the 5.5mm Velo Dog is no longer made. Lock it up!

        • I use a Serpa without the paddle backplate and attach it to a nylon strap belt if I want a conventional must have active retention, and yea, I know they are deadly dangerous and can cause death.

          For running I carry the 42 or Ruger LCP in a low profile Amphopod neoprene fanny pack-like thing or a Mountainsmith Vibe fanny pack. As long as iPhones keep getting bigger, there are more alethtic carry options.

          The fanny packs can be worn in front, side, rear, and even across the shoulder. They can also be attached externally to larger packs or camelbaks.

        • When I cycle I have been using either Pistolwear PT2 or their Trump concealment holster. Very comfortable and easy to conceal while riding.

      • How about sell the baby momma and the baby and keep the ebt card? I think I’m getting the hang of thinking like a criminal.

        Better change my voter registration to democrat.

        • Sell the Baby Mamma for $50 an hour. Sell her again. Keep selling her until she refuses then beat her into submission. Use her EBT card to buy cigaretts and hair weave to hide the bruses around the eyes. Then sell her again.
          You got it. You sell it. You still got it. What a bargain!

        • Give a bunch of money, drugs, and connections to hungry dudes. Feed them info and they feed you. Take out the other dealers that stand in their way. When said dudes get too big take them down. Repeat the cycle. spend the money designated for informants keep base pay and overtime. Some call it corruption others call it police work. Retire on gov. dime. Running for office is an option.

          When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?

  2. Practice drawing in non conventional positions and understand that you won’t be able to always assume a target shooting position when you are being attacked. I’d also note that practice drawing for positions you might find yourself in on a daily basis.

  3. I ride. I once upon a time lived in the heart of the ghetto.
    The local urchins would jump out from alleys, from around building corners, from behind parked cars or mailboxes. Sometimes they stand shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the road giving you no option but to go down another road which inevitable had an ambush in waiting. They’d reach out for your handlebars or try to tackle you or spear your spoke with sticks. Anything to get you to stop.

    Middle of the night rides home from work encountering those monsters was the motivation I needed to finally get me to jump through all of CT’s hoops to get a permit.

    Thankfully I always outrode either through speed or evasion the rampaging hordes but several of my cycling peers were not so lucky.

  4. Okay, I can do that … Imagining moving back to CA without changing the contents of the household arsenal…

  5. Riding during daylight in areas with high visibility is a must. The bicycle’s greatest predator is the automobile not the Obama-approved wealth redistribution agent. Conversely, this makes ambushes more difficult to conduct as well.

    • “Riding during daylight in areas with high visibility is a must.”

      Riding during daylight is when traffic is heaviest means a much higher chance of being roadkill.

      Besides, I live in central Florida where the climate is sub-tropical. YOU try riding in high heat and humidity on a summer day and get back to me with your impressions.

      Besides, like Shire-Man above, his work was at night and in a not-nice area.

      Like those nice clueless people who always seem to tell people who live in high-crime areas “Why don’t you just move?”, that suggestion was not very helpful…

      • Why isn’t that useful advice? Is your life worth whatever is keeping you where you are? Our forefathers crossed oceans to get away from oppression (and violent crime is a form of oppression), but now people say, “Oh I can’t move just because I might get shot where I’m at now.” The most effective part of SA is the strategic part, planning your life not being around where a lot of bad stuff happens.

        Also, you’re wrong about bicycling at night. While it’s true that more bike accidents occur during the day, that is because that’s when there is most ridership. A study done by the city of Edgewater, FL showed that nearly 60 per cent of all adult fatal bicycle accidents in the state of Florida occur during twilight and night hours although less than three percent of bicycle use takes place at that time. Also, when you’re talking “road kill” NTSA statistics show that bike accidents at night are much more likely to be fatal than daytime accidents. Those are only two examples. There are other studies where the results are similar.

        • The lighting system front and rear on my bikes rival some automobiles in lumen output.

          My riding is mostly rural, and I use mirrors. When cars come up behind me, I exit the roadway.

          I’ve ridden day, and night. Night is *far* safer for me.

  6. When I was in the motorcycle, we trained once a year on shooting from the saddle and using the downed bike as cover and concealment. Brought a tear to my eye laying down my Harley.
    Great training though.

      • You learn how to climb on top of the bike as it is going down. Then push the bike away and let your leathers do what they were intended to do.

    • Excellent strategy. Also, don’t forget using the bike as a weapon. Even on the bicycle, consider charging the BG at the best speed you can make.

  7. I ride a bike a LOT. And I’m old. Any little thing and I have my hand on a pepper blaster. And “other” things… I avoid any and all teens. I doubt they realize I will put a world of hurt on them(OFWG looking with the white mustache). Ya’ can’t be too prepared(or paranoid?)

  8. Don’t think like a criminal. Think like a survivor! The average “good guy” has a very powerful weapon going for him/her… Our brains, and the careful use of that advantage will serve us much better than trying to “think like a criminal,” though it is good to know HOW they think, of course. They generally don’t want to risk being hurt themselves, which is why active resistance is so effective.

    Situational awareness involves far more than potential criminal behavior. Criminals are not the greatest danger on a daily basis.

    From an old article at The Price of Liberty:

    Review the levels of awareness.


    Only appropriate at home, doors locked
    Sleeping (Need alarms, dog, locked doors, etc. as protection)
    In the shower
    Watching TV or otherwise absorbed in an activity
    Walk or jog with stereo earphones on (very bad idea!)
    Driving, especially long distance (not good if unaware)
    Can you think of other times YOU are unaware of your surroundings?

    Aware – best if practiced everywhere – when no threat is perceived

    You see who is near you (including behind you) and any movements they make.
    You are immediately aware of strangers and observe their actions, what they have in their hands, facial expression, etc.
    You are aware of the source of potential danger, such as cars in the street, loose dog, litter on the ground or increased traffic ahead of you on the road.
    You are thinking of ways to avoid potential dangers you observe
    You have a definite plan for what you are doing, where you are going. This plan may be very simple, and eventually will be subconscious. The important thing is not to appear lost, confused, timid.
    Look for something that could serve as cover in an attack each place you go. Remember where your car is parked so you don’t have to search for it. These plans are often informal and almost unconscious, but it is very different than just drifting along with no clear idea what you are doing.
    What other things should you should be aware of, especially when out of your home?

    Alert – Serious potential danger identified

    Stranger walking toward you quickly, hands out of sight
    Loose dog who is growling and showing teeth, coming toward you
    Loud sound outside your home or car, out of the ordinary
    Many others
    Think about what you would understand to be an alert of potential danger and write them
    down. What would you do to avoid the possible danger?

    Alarm – Immediate Serious threat, danger.

    Stranger coming toward you pulls a knife or gun, making threats or demands
    Dog jumps at you, obviously attacking
    Sound of window or door being smashed
    Someone trying to forcefully open your car door at an intersection or parking lot
    Car coming through intersection against the light and headed for your car
    What are other situations you would consider an immediate threat and the response you
    think would be appropriate?

    • You cannot maintain complete stiuational awareness 100% of the time unless you only have one dedicated task like take the daily receipts from your place of business to the bank. If were to try you could not go about your daily business. You will be distracted by your children, personal interactions, tasks and just mental fatigue. Bad guys are waiting for that to hapoen. The best you can do is learn how to make periodic assessments of potential thteats, which for most if us at any given time and place is is none. As an experiment I suggest the next time you are out and about on a Saturday doing those adminstrative things you need to do 0vmake note of those times you are distracted. You will be surprised at how much time you spend focused on something other than on your own security.

      • Nothing there indicates the need for “condition red” all the time, by any means. But unless you maintain “yellow” all the time, the red can quickly come upon you. And you won’t be able to respond in time, most likely.

        Just as with any other skill, situational awareness requires practice, ongoing. First you have to decide, based on your location and lots of other factors, just how much attention you need to focus on this yellow status. If you simply practice being aware of the people and objects within 20 feet or so, and scan outside that 20 feet frequently, there is a very good chance you will be able to see trouble coming. A very dedicated and practiced criminal might ambush you, of course, but I don’t think most of us face that potential… at least not if obviously dangerous places like dark alleys are avoided.

        As for distractions, most of those are quite within our control. I raised children myself, and have lived in a lot of situations where distractions were all around me. I KNOW I can choose how I react to most of them, and so can anyone else. The dumb twits who walk with their eyes glued to a phone or tablet are choosing to do so. No, it’s not always easy, and once in a while it’s not possible, but it is one of the things we can control most of the time . Of course some folks manage to survive after a purely responsive action after an attack, but I’d rather avoid that if I can.

        I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep looking for ways to improve my awareness, not brush it off as too difficult or impossible. 🙂 Or allow myself to become distracted if I can avoid it. I practice situational awareness as described above, scanning my surroundings gently, all the time when I’m out of my home. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and spent time visualizing potential situations and my possible responses to them. All that is part of practicing for situational awareness.

        I also don’t go into any situation where I believe I might be endangered. I’m 70 years old, and have a lot of strikes against me quite naturally. I don’t look for trouble.

        • You cannot even maintain condtion yellow all the time. How aware are you when you are in the process of strapping an unruly child or grandchild into a car seat?

          The entire Cooper white/yellow/red concept is highly flawed. Situational Awareness is a combination of threat level and alertness level. Most of the time we face no threat. Unless you live in a high crime area and/or in the business of transporting money or valuables you are carrying a gun because you don’t expect anything bad to happen. If you did you wouldn’t go there. A gun is a hedge against the unexpected.

        • Well, if that’s the way you want to live, not my problem. 🙂 My experience has been very different.

          I’ve had to shoot a man to save my life… You?

        • I have had a boatload of surveillance/countersurveillance training and a modest amount of application. I assure you I could walk up to you and tap you on the shoulder and you would never see it coming until I said hello.

  9. He made himself a target. When he dressed like a metro superhero. He’s lucky they did not know how much his outfit retailed for or he would have been ordered to strip and would have done so.

  10. Right so long it is not an felony carry concealed in every off place ore if can t get an permit in commifornia.
    Problem are states as hawai ore new york where unlicensed carry loadet starts white an felony (same for off places) ……
    If more would do this it would significant increase the public safety.

  11. I am shocked! SHOCKED! that these irresponsible criminals did not steal his bicycle helmet! They will be riding without a helmet! That is illegal in many leftist jurisdictions! How thoughtless of them.

  12. My P3AT is light, fits in my jersey out of sight, and I would have given them a choice of the bike or something else

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