Protecting Yourself Against Crime and Violence
by Chris Martenson
by Chris Martenson: Fortifying
Yourself and Your Home Against Crime
post deals with personal security, one of the most
asked-for topics by this community. However, we realize it is
a sensitive if not scary topic for some. The intent here is have
an open and mature exploration of an important subject. Please respect
the author's efforts to do just that.
My wife and
I live in Philadelphia on the “green line” between mostly-prosperous
Center City and mostly-wasteland North Philadelphia. People are
very aware of crime around here, as you might imagine, and many
people have taken numerous steps to avoid becoming victims. That
being said, I am still surprised on a nearly daily basis how unprepared
and unaware some people are. (I’m a Police Sergeant, so I see many
people who have been caught off guard by criminals. And that’s a
very important first tip: If the criminal cannot catch you off guard
and unprepared, he’s most likely going to pick a different victim.
But that doesn’t account for intoxicated/drugged criminals, very
inexperienced criminals, and professional criminals.)
woman who is our neighbor lived alone in a three-story rowhouse
one block away from us. At about 10:00 pm one night, she was reading
in bed in her second-floor front bedroom. Suddenly, there was a
strange man she had never seen before standing in the doorway of
her bedroom demanding money. Scared half to death, she pointed out
her purse on her dresser. He went through it, took all her money
and fled out the second floor rear bedroom window through which
he had entered. Responding police were unable to find the perpetrator.
Crime is an ever-present threat around here, yet this long-time
resident was totally caught off guard. Even more amazing to me was
how easy it would’ve been for her to have prevented this whole unnerving
incident. She had a burglar alarm system, but she hadn’t armed it,
even though she was going to sleep in a few minutes. She also left
her rear second floor window unlocked, which enabled the burglar
to climb in without making any noise after using her neighbor’s
rear second floor deck to access it.
I don’t know
the lady, but I’m thinking that before this event she had had a
theoretical or abstract awareness of crime from hearing so much
about it in the neighborhood and the media. You, too, may have such
an abstract awareness that has not affected you on a gut level.
She had an alarm system as a way of fending off attack (at home),
but she obviously didn’t have the motivation to practice simple
discipline to protect herself. In my experience, a person’s first
time being victimized by a criminal is a real wake-up call. Depending
on the person and the crime they are the victim of, the effect on
the person may be life-changing and sometimes devastating. My neighbor
was freaked out, as you would have been having gone through something
like this. She was glad not to have been physically injured and
glad the burglar took such a small amount of her valuables.
Sadly, I can’t
conclude the story here, and this is the part that really shocks
me. This neighbor had a very powerful emotional reaction to a very
dangerous and shocking crime, but she didn’t take the simplest of
steps to protect herself from being victimized again. Amazing! A
few months after this first incident, my neighbor was asleep in
her bed. She had not armed her burglary alarm system (again) and
her rear window was unlocked (again). She was awakened from her
sleep by a different man in her bedroom who brutally raped her,
took her money, and drove off in her BMW. This man had entered through
the same unlocked window! I don’t think it was much consolation
to her, but police caught the predator several days later, still
driving her BMW. She sold her house quickly below market and moved
away. I wonder if she is more prepared to deal with crime now. I
wonder how many of the readers here haven’t taken significant steps
to protect themselves.
this post on preparing for crime and violence primarily to stimulate
or inspire members of the ChrisMartenson.com community who have
not already done so to plan for and begin taking steps to prepare
themselves for crime and violence. The next 20 years are going to
be completely unlike the last 20 years, and one way they’re going
to be different is in the area of crime. Obviously, more poverty
and desperation and fewer law enforcement resources will be the
main ingredients in generating more crime and violence. It’s going
to be more frequent, more clever, and more brutal. From my perspective,
these preparations are a normal part of life, because crime is a
normal part of the human experience (in varying degrees and types).
It only makes sense to think about crime and violence, take some
reasonable steps to prevent it, and respond to it if prevention
fails. This is true in national parks, rural areas, small towns,
and large cities. These are my thoughts, but I believe most people
have not thought about these things very much. And more importantly,
they have taken very few effective steps to prevent themselves from
being victimized and to deal with a crime against themselves once
an attack starts.
This post may
not scratch where you itch, because I see people falling into one
of four categories in regard to preparation for crime and violence.
Look at my four categories and decide where you are:
category consists of those who are already aware of crime
and violence and have begun taking steps to prepare themselves and
their loved ones. Readers in this first category may find they have
already progressed beyond most of the material in this post. If
so, a second future post I have in mind may be more helpful.
category of people are hopefully the largest group, and
they are the ones I want to move with this post. These are people
who haven’t yet done much thinking and preparing to face crime,
but they will if effectively prompted to do so. I say “effectively
prompted” because many things could trigger a person’s journey into
self-protection. Being the victim of a crime for the first time
in your life often qualifies as being “effectively prompted” (though
not always, as per my neighbor’s experience). Vicariously experiencing
someone else’s crime has “effectively prompted” many people to take
their own self-protection more seriously.
and sister-in-law live in a quiet, prosperous, low-crime area in
Connecticut which is very close to a brutal 7-24-07 home invasion
in Cheshire, CT. That nearby crime, which resulted in the murders
of the wife and two daughters of Dr. William Petit, Jr., “effectively
prompted” my brother- and sister-in-law, and many others in low-crime
Connecticut, to begin taking their self-protection very seriously.
They bought guns, took training and went through the arduous process
to get concealed carry permits. (If you need to be effectively prompted
by someone else’s experience of crime and violence, go to YouTube
and watch all the “armed robbery” and “shooting” videos you can
find. Your blood should run cold and your motivation hot.)
The third way
someone might be “effectively prompted” is by a traditional learning
experience such as in a classroom or by reading this post. This
is the least effective way of the three, and is most effective when
combined with one of the other two. Nevertheless, I have hopes that
this post might move some ChrisMartenson.com people “off the dime”
to start taking their personal protection seriously. After all,
if you’re on this site, you’ve taken an “eyes wide open” look at
the world as it really is, you’ve made some educated guesses about
what the future holds, you’ve begun to prepare, and in many cases
you’ve started spreading the word. You didn’t wait for a six month
“bank holiday” or a 50% devaluation of the dollar to get started.
That’s exactly what I’m trying to get readers to do: conduct a brutally
honest look at the world as it pertains to your safety, make some
realistic projections about what the future holds, and take appropriate
category is also a large group of people. These are the
people who won’t prepare significantly in advance to prevent crime
and violence toward themselves, but they WILL fight back if attacked
sufficiently. Ginger Littleton is the poster girl for this group.
Ms. Littleton was in attendance at a school board meeting in Florida
on 12-21-10 when Clay Duke pulled out a handgun and began ranting
and threatening. I don’t know Ginger, but I saw her interviewed
on TV and I know her “type.” She apparently has never taken her
personal protection very seriously, but when confronted with an
attack on herself and innocents near her, she decided to fight back
It’s best if
you watch her “counterattack” on YouTube, but allow me to describe
it here. Middle-aged Ms. Littleton fled the room when allowed to
do so by the would-be murderer. However, feeling an admirable rush
of civic responsibility, she decided she couldn’t just run away.
She snuck back quietly to the meeting room. Seeing Duke’s back to
her with his gun in his right hand, she formed an impromptu plan.
She snuck up behind Duke and swung her purse at his gun hand, hoping
to disarm him! The attempt failed, and Duke just shooed her away
again (lucky for her he was intent on “suicide-by-cop,” not homicide).
Like many others
in this category, Ginger Littleton is a peaceable, law-abiding person
who wouldn’t normally hurt a fly. And like many others in similar
situations, she was completely surprised by her own actions. "Off-the-cuff
without preparation" is not a recommended way of dealing with problems,
but it is especially dubious when it comes to dealing with crime
because so much is at stake. Many unprepared people die or are seriously
injured in ill-advised counterattacks. If you think you are in this
category, I hope I can reach you. If you’re going to fight back
when attacked ANYWAY, why not prepare in advance so you have a better
chance of winning and surviving?
a small fourth category of people who will never
prepare or fight back against violence, even if that means they
passively die at the hands of an aggressor. Some of these people
are pacifists by religion or philosophy, but most simply cannot
overcome their natural human inhibitions against violence. If you’re
in this category, I may never convince you to prepare to inflict
violence on someone who is intent on hurting you, but maybe I can
encourage you to take some of the many non-violent forms of self-protection
(using burglar alarms, for instance).
Are you still
with me? Do you want to further explore this subject of taking personal
responsibility for your own protection and that of your loved ones?
If you’re on
the ChrisMartenson.com website,
to some degree you’re expecting the Economic, Energy and Environmental
challenges that our world is facing to dramatically affect us for
at least the next 20 years. There are going to be BIG problems all
around, and one of those is going to be BIG increases in crime and
violence. Since we expect poverty, desperation, and anger to increase,
so we must expect crime and violence to increase proportionally.
We have to expect drug and alcohol abuse to rise under these stressful
conditions, and this will have a proportional effect on crime rates.
At the same time, we have to expect law enforcement resources to
decline with the economy that pays for them. (Just as crime reaches
the worst levels in a century, we’ll be on our own more than ever).
We have to expect the number of crimes to increase. We have to expect
the locations where crimes are committed to spread to traditionally
low-crime areas. And, perhaps most chilling, we have to expect the
crimes to be more brutal, more clever, and better resourced than
The good news
is that human predators will always have certain traits, and we
can use that to prepare ourselves to defeat them. And by defeat
them, I mean convince them not to choose you as a victim and fight
back far more effectively than they would’ve imagined.
reality of the criminal threat and mentally choose not to be a victim.
The denial, distraction, and passivity that many people exhibit
concerning crime is the predator’s dream come true. Human predators,
just like animal predators, want to take what they want without
getting hurt or killed. They survey the population looking for a
juicy target who is not paying attention and doesn’t look like it
will put up much of a fight. Then they arrange a circumstance to
maximize their advantages and minimize the target’s chances of escape
or counterattack. Defeating predators absolutely must start with
a knowledge that there are predators and a firm resolve to not be
a predator’s next easy target. The National Rifle Association has
a community education program entitled “Refuse
To Be A Victim,” which would be a good place to start if this
is where you are. BY FAR the most important factor in your ability
to prevent and effectively respond to crime and violence is an authentic,
deeply-felt decision to face it head on.
plan for self-protection from crime and violence that fits you and
your situation, both present and future. Your plan should include
- Your home,
both when it’s unoccupied as well as when you and your loved ones
are in it
- You and
your loved ones while away from home (school, work, traveling,
- Your assets
that are not kept at your home or on your person (which are more
vulnerable to fraud and theft than to street-level violence).
My main concern
in this post are the first two areas of protection: home and street.
Your plan must
be specific and measurable. “Improve the security of our home” is
a great idea or objective, but it needs to be made into a series
of measurable goals. Without specific, measurable goals, you’re
likely to spin your wheels without accomplishing much. Here are
a few specific, measurable goals that someone might include under
this objective, just as an example.
a monitored burglary/fire alarm by April 1.
the lock on the dining room window by March 15.
the burned out flood light bulb in the motion-activated light
at the back door by Feb. 5.
your plan will evolve over time as you learn and grow into it, but
at every point you have to be working YOUR plan. Wasted time, money,
and effort are to be avoided at every turn.
Based on the
plan you develop, begin accumulating the skills and hardware you
will need to make it a reality. Again, you will need specific, measurable
items on your list. For instance, “By June 1, achieve a rate of
at least 95% for arming the burglary alarm system whenever the house
is empty or everyone is sleeping.” Keep a chart and watch your discipline
from crime and violence is really that simple to understand:
your journey into self-protection will influence the rest of your
life, so it may look long and convoluted from that perspective.
Remember, you’re aiming for steady, sustainable progress in your
efforts, not an instant transformation into civilian commando. Your
plan may include a long list of skills and hardware and cost $1,000s,
but it doesn’t have to. Inducing predators to avoid you and look
for someone else can be amazingly simple and inexpensive with the
right attitudes and habits. Most of the effort and expense comes
from trying to deter determined and well-prepared predators (they
are a very small percentage of all predators) and defeating predators
who have blundered through all your efforts at prevention and deterrence.
It’s all about resilience and flexibility. How much of the threat
of crime and violence do you want to be prepared for?
is one of those low-probability, high-cost issues. The mathematical
probability that you will have your home invaded by three men with
guns is pretty low, but if it happens anyway, you could lose everything.
(But don’t forget: The mathematical probability that you will be
the target of criminal action is going to keep going up significantly
for a long time.) Do you feel lucky? Are you willing to depend on
chance? Most people are, but if you are reading this on the ChrisMartenson.com
site, I doubt you are the kind of person who normally buries his/her
head in the sand and hopes for the best. Yet in my experience, it
is entirely possible that you’ve made big strides in preparing for
the Economic, Energy, and Environmental storms brewing on our horizon,
but HAVE NOT done anything to prepare to confront the potential
crime and violence embedded in those storms.
I suppose the
denial and passivity that this is caused by is natural. It’s one
thing to prepare for the impersonal difficulties ahead of us, and
it’s another altogether to prepare for a VERY personal attempt by
another human directed at killing, maiming, or robbing you. A hurricane
or a six month “bank holiday” that hits you is going to be a major
problem, but there are steps you can take to prepare. That kind
of “attack” is not directed at you personally, and that makes it
easier for many to “fight back.” Finally, in your response to these
two scenarios, there’s no reason in the world for you to have to
harm someone else to survive. However, two seventeen year olds with
guns who rob you at the ATM is very personal, and to defeat them
you will very likely have to harm or kill two fellow human beings.
Maybe you wouldn’t hurt a robber to prevent a $300 robbery. How
would you feel about those two armed men bursting into your home,
tying you and your family up, and using torture and sexual abuse
to get you to give them your stash of precious metals? Ask Dr. Petit
if he had to do it over again and he was armed with a gun and
skilled in its use would he kill those two ex-cons who raped his
wife and killed her and his two daughters.
At this point,
if you are determined and ready to begin your journey into self-protection,
I want to point you in the direction of some of the many fine resources
in the self-defense “industry.” I’m not a part of that industry,
but I’ve seen some great resources that you might also find helpful.
Here are a few:
Both of these
books are a great place to start. They both emphasize the importance
of mental preparation and attitude in self-defense, and both deal
with self-protection comprehensively at home and on the street.
Aguirre’s book is based on his personal experience surviving the
2001 economic collapse in Argentina, which will strike a cord with
Chris Martenson readers. Aguirre also debunks the idea that you
can escape the coming crime and violence by relocating to a rural
area or small town. He points out the self-defense disadvantages
of such places and describes how some of the worst crimes in post-crash
Argentina occurred in them. In addition to their books, both authors
have additional resources. Aguirre has his blog at ferfal.blogspot.com
and Morris has his SurviveInPlace.com,
which gets you the book and many more resources. I found his bonus
chapter on acquiring water in a crisis to be worth the cost by itself.
My urban family can be water self-sufficient indefinitely, thanks
As you prepare
your self-protection plan and begin implementing it, you will have
to face the issue of firearms used in self-defense. I suggest Thank
God I Had A Gun by Chris Bird because in it you encounter
normal people who were saved by their use of a firearm. I hope their
stories effectively prompt you! Second, I would suggest an old classic,
The Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection
by Massad Ayoob. Ayoob is head and shoulders above the rest of the
self-defense industry in understanding and teaching the legal and
psychological aspects of armed self-defense. I agree that many people
should not carry or have access to a firearm, or even a sharp stick
or pair of scissors! Ayoob’s book will help you get your head in
the right place so you can decide if a firearm is right for you
and, if it is, begin your mental preparation to use it legally and
There are many,
many firearms training schools, if you choose to become armed and
properly trained. Some have great, well-deserved reputations, but
some are all bluster and actually dangerous. The most convenient
and least expensive can be accessed through some of your local gun
shops. Others serve a regional or national clientele. I would highly
recommend the two I have attended: The Massad
Ayoob Group Lethal Force Institute (formerly the Lethal Force
Institute, it holds training mostly on the east coast) and Front
Sight which trains at an excellent facility in Nevada and a
satellite facility in Alaska I’ve never seen. Lethal Force Institute
builds good shooting skills, but again the best part is the understanding
of the legal and psychological aspects it teaches (which are widely
used and adapted by other schools). Front Sight promises to make
you a better shooter than most military and police are, and it succeeds.
(I’m an excellent handgun shooter and one of the best in my big
city department, but I’m quite humbled by many of the civilians
I shoot with in advanced Front Sight courses.) Front Sight’s mandatory
first course is the Four Day Defensive Handgun course, which accomplishes
more with first time and experienced shooters in four days than
my policenacademy did in two weeks! If you’re considering Front
Sight, you really should take that first course and add the fifth
day, which will get you a Nevada concealed carry permit which is
accepted there and in 29 other states. Both schools offer courses
on unarmed self-defense and self-defense with weapons other than
the media reported that the city of Camden, New Jersey (across the
Delaware River from Philadelphia) laid off 46% of its police force.
Camden and New Jersey are in severe financial straits and leaders
are unable to kick the can down the road any further. Severe cuts
are being made. Camden is already “the second most dangerous city”
in America. What effect do you suppose losing 1/2 their Police Department
is going to have on public safety and quality of life? The criminals
are already emboldened. Officers have reported seeing thugs standing
on high drug corners wearing T-shirts that read, “1-18-11: We Take
Back The Streets.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1-19-11, p. A7)
And to make matters worse, simply buying a firearm in New Jersey
is very difficult. Getting a concealed carry permit is, for all
practical purposes, impossible.
strike a chord of concern in your heart for your future safety because
you don’t live in Camden, and maybe not in any big city? You don’t
see that news as a thread being pulled from the reality we all share
and have to deal with personally wherever and whoever we are? Really?
But you ARE concerned about sovereign debt in Greece and Ireland?
You ARE concerned about the policies of the Federal Reserve in Washington?
You ARE concerned about Peak Oil, even though you don’t work in
the oil industry?
storm of Economics, Energy and Environment has within it a the potential
for a surge of crime and violence. Face the reality honestly. Form
a plan to cope. And gather the skills and equipment you’ll need
© 2011 Chris