By John Thomas Grohn

I recently viewed a store security tape following an incident. Store security called the police after watching a “shopper” acting strange. At first, they thought he was a shoplifter, but he wasn’t. As I watched the tape I realized I was watching a predator in action. He was hunting.

He was a teenager, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at him. Truth is, he was only 15 years old, but he could easily pass for 21 or 22. On the video, I watched as he stalked females in a crowded store. He could be seen observing, choosing and then following his victims. As unsuspecting females were shopping, he would get in close and actually sniff them. To be exact, he would sniff their backsides … and then slip away, undetected. One woman almost caught him once, but he smoothly and seamlessly played it off. That potential victim knew something wasn’t right and she moved away from him.

The predator was off to his next victim. I continued to watch the tape and it captured him repeating this behavior with four more women. When stopped by police and asked about his actions, he said he has a problem — a fetish he just cannot control. My question is: At what point does he take it up a notch? When does he decide to restrain his victims? And what if they fight back? What weapon would he use to take what he wants? What tool would he use to gain compliance?

The predator is not going to telegraph his intentions to his victims. Or at least, he’ll disguise his intent well enough to get close. That’s why he’s a predator — he’s patient. He watches, evaluates and decides what the chance of a successful confrontation is. Does his victim know of his presence? Can he successfully overtake this person and get what he wants? Are there witnesses who are nearby who may see or stop him or worse, keep him from escaping?

I call these “volunteer victims” and they’re classic victims of attacks around ATMs. They’re oblivious to their surroundings, in condition “white” — totally unprepared for an attack. Don’t be a volunteer victim, and teach your family about it.

Turning On The Light

I think sometimes we get wrapped around the axle when it comes to off-duty vs. on-duty officer survival, especially when we think of hardware. I’m sometimes guilty of it, too. Do you spend enough time thinking out the scenarios you may face? Will you be sufficiently armed? Are you even carrying a gun at all? Do you have a fully charged cell phone, some cash and credit cards? Are you mentally prepared for a confrontation?

“Flipping the switch” is what I call the ability to be walking around on a gorgeous summer day, and the next moment — if it’s called for — reacting fast and decisively to a threat. The old adage about being polite, professional and having a plan to kill everyone you meet comes to mind. It’s that light switch concept. You go from “off” to “on” instantly. It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you if you embrace it. We all have it.

Playing “What If”

Everyone has a “button” that can be pushed. But without rehearsing, without thinking out a scenario and visualizing how you will respond, you are denying yourself the ability to act as quickly and as decisively as you may need to stay on top. With the combination of a sharp mind and some mental and physical preparation, we increase our odds of coming out victorious in most confrontations. The predator has a light switch too. And he’s likely honed his skill to a fine art, a keenly tuned machine, years in the making.
And you need to beat him at his own game — if necessary.