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Are students prepared for the dark side of high school and college?

Moving on to high school, college, or a new job has its risks.  UIC Campus by Paco Seoane via Creative Commons

Moving on to high school, college, or a new job has its risks. UIC Campus by Paco Seoane via Creative Commons


It’s that time again. The kids are heading back to school and some moms and dads are having mixed emotions as their sons and daughters head off to what awaits them in high school or college.

Along with the pride that fills a parents heart there is also fear. It was hard enough keeping them safe and secure through elementary school, but high school is another story all together, and watching them leave home for college is a cause for even more concern.

Educating kids in ways to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations should be part of every child’s education.

This weekend, I will be leading workshops in personal safety and self-defense at North Park University, for their incoming freshmen. The workshops will focus on helping students increase their personal and situation awareness, and when absolutely necessary, physically defend themselves.

One way to improve your awareness is to educate yourself about ways to avoid becoming a victim in your new environment, whether it is high school, college, or the work place. As part of the personal safety and self-defense workshops scheduled this weekend I will post popular self-defense articles from the past as well as a few new ones everyday.

This is the first one: Beware of predators using boundary-lowering tactics!

4th woman attacked in Midlothian:

All 4 attacks have taken place within a few blocks of the Midlothian Metra Station. Photo by Katherine via Creative Commons

All 4 attacks have taken place within a few blocks of the Midlothian Metra Station. Photo by Katherine via Creative Commons

It has been just over a week since the last attack took place near the Metra Station in Midlothian. It was the fourth attack in as many weeks.

The first attack took place July 20th and the most recent on August 10th. According to ABC News the victims said their attacker punched and beat them before robbing them of cash. Some of them reported being hit after they gave up their valuables.

The latest victim was attacked from behind and according to an earlier report on the first 3 muggings, by ABC News, at least 2 of the earlier victims were also attacked from behind.

In almost all of the self-defense classes, especially those taught to high school and college students, I am asked how to handle an attack from behind. I explain that I will cover some options to that type of attack, but first I ask them how they might find themselves in that situation. They seldom come up with a scenario. The answer I get is “well, they are just there”. Very seldom will I hear, “I had my headphones on or my earbuds in and didn’t hear them, or I was busy texting and wasn’t paying attention”.

In the case of the young mother who was attacked while attempting to enter her home with your infant.
Any parent will tell you that a managing a child of any age is a huge distraction and will easily keep you from paying attention to what is going on around you.

She probably felt pretty safe in front of her home. We are more apt to let our guard down when we are in familiar surroundings. It can happen to anyone, including law enforcement officers. Read about the tragic death of officer Soderberg in: “The last Lesson”.

Where you are most comfortable is where you can be most vulnerable.

How can you avoid being mugged?

Here are a few suggestions from our previous post “Eyes in the back of your head”

1. If you are walking by yourself at night you need to raise your awareness and look ahead for places where muggers might be hiding.

2. Do not use ear buds or headphones when you are walking alone.

3. Look behind you to see if anyone is there, especially after passing an area where someone could have been hiding

4. If someone is approaching from behind, cross the street and start looking for a safe place to run to, such as an open business or where other people might be walking.

5. If you are carrying mace/pepper spray put it in your hand and be mentally prepared to use it. It should not be buried in the bottom of your bag.

More suggestions and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of this tip of crime can be found by clicking on the links below.

Anatomy of a mugging Part-1

Anatomy of a Mugging Part-2

Awareness is the key to your safety!

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Recent security training didn’t stop shooter in Maryland mall

COLUMBIA, MD - JANUARY 27: A security guard walks past the boarded up Zumiez store where two days earlier three people were shot and killed at the Mall in Columbia January 27, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

COLUMBIA, MD – JANUARY 27: A security guard walks past the boarded up Zumiez store where two days earlier three people were shot and killed at the Mall in Columbia January 27, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Maryland mall where a shooting last Saturday left three dead and five injured reopened yesterday. Returning shoppers were greeted by an increased presence of police and mall security.

Signs of the tragedy that took place just a few days before can be seen at Zumiez, the store where the shooting occurred, remained closed, and a temporary wall had been built across its entrance. On the wall was a message saying the store would be closed until further notice in “loving memory” of Brianna Benlolo, 21, and Tyler Johnson, 25, the two employees who were killed, reported the New York Times.

Retailers are taking steps to make shopping at malls and stand-alone stores more secure.

Managers from the mall in Columbia attended a training seminar for retail officials provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Department of Homeland Security, says Rich Miller, the senior security adviser to the National Retail Federation. The association updated its 2011 guidelines for dealing with shooters last year.

Key points from the guidelines on dealing with active shooters that shoppers should know.

1. Active shooters don’t negotiate or converse.  Run, hide, and fight as a last resort in an active shooter situation.

2. Shoppers are urged to evacuate if it is safe to do so.  Store workers are instructed to tell those who can safely flee to keep their hands up. 

3. Seek safety in the nearest store. 

Store employees are supposed to take customers into a back room, close the door or store gates and wait for police to tell them when it’s safe to leave.

It is claimed that lives are saved when training and guidelines such as these are put into practice, but is there a way to keep these types of shootings from occurring in the first place?

The use of metal detectors might have prevented Darion Aguilar from walking into the mall with his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, but with more people making purchases from the safety of their homes using the internet, retailers don’t want to put up barriers to shoppers entering their malls and stores.

What can you do to avoid becoming a victim of an active shooter?

1. Be aware of what is going on around you. 

2. Have an escape plan. It doesn’t matter if you are in a shopping mall, food court, theater, restaurant, or at home: you need to plan for the worst possible situation.



3. When entering a shopping mall, theater, restaurant, or any public place you need to know is how will you get out in an emergency. You should locate at least two exits.



4. In the case of an active shooter you should leave your belongings and escape rather than hide or play dead.

5. Head to the closest exit as quickly as possible. To avoid making yourself an easy target you may need to crawl to the exit instead of standing up and running.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Black Friday: 10 tips to keep thieves at bay

Over 140 million people will be shopping for bargains this Black Friday. Sprinkled in among those millions of bargain hunters will be thousands of criminals looking to pick up a few gifts at your expense. Insane by Kevinspencer

Over 140 million people will be shopping for bargains this Black Friday. Sprinkled in among those millions of bargain hunters will be thousands of criminals looking to pick up a few gifts at your expense.
Insane by Kevinspencer

Over 140 million people will be shopping for bargains this Black Friday. Sprinkled in among those millions of bargain hunters will be thousands of criminals looking to pick up a few gifts at your expense.
These criminals will come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. They will consist of thieves, strong-arm robbers, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers who will be watching your every move, just waiting for you to let down your guard.

What can you do to avoid becoming a victim of Black Friday thievery?

1. Don’t overload yourself with too many packages.  You will make it much easier for a thief to steal them from you.



2. When walking out to your car have your keys in your hand and focus your attention on the area near your car.  If you see anyone loitering in the parking lot consider going back into the store or mall and informing security.



3. When leaving a store, especially a computer or electronics store, look behind you to see if anyone has followed you out of the store.  Pay particular attention to anyone not carrying packages with them.



4. Put your purchases in your trunk.  This is especially important for those of you who will not be driving directly home.   If you are driving a car without a trunk bring a coat or blanket to throw over your packages.



5. When driving off after making an expensive purchase like a TV or computer check your rear view mirror to see if your are being followed.  Thieves have been known to follow potential victims home with the intent to break into the house at a future date when the owners are away.



6. Keep your purses close to your body and drape your arm over them.  This will make it more difficult for pickpockets to reach inside your bag or for it to be ripped off your shoulder.

7. If you stop at a food court don’t sling your bag over the back of the chair.  Food courts are a haven for thieves looking for hungry, tired shoppers focused on food instead of their valuables.  Place your bags in front of you between your feet.



8. Keep wallets small.  Don’t take more credit cards or cash than you think you may use. You should carry your wallet inside your coat or front pants pocket, and keep your cash separate from your wallet to limit your loss should your pocket get picked.



9. Don’t take out your checkbook, credit card or I.D. before it is necessary to make your purchase.  Identity thieves could be standing right behind you attempting to glean information over your shoulder. 

10. Don’t leave your purse open or set your wallet on the counter when paying with a credit card.  Take the credit card out and hold the wallet tightly in your hand.

You can avoid the parking hassles and the crowded stores and malls all together by staying home and shopping on line.

If you must go out this Friday then please stay alert and keep an eye out for criminals looking for a five-fingered-discount.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

What are the real dangers trick-or-treaters face on Halloween?

Halloween is here. Streets and sidewalks across the country will be filled with ghosts, ghouls, witches and zombies out trick-or-treating. What danger will they be facing this Halloween? Is it the possibility that they will eat candy laced with poison or filled with needles or razorblades?

 What real dangers do these trick-or-treaters really need to worry about on Halloween . The night crew by kreg.steppe via Creative Commons


What real dangers do these trick-or-treaters really need to worry about on Halloween . The night crew by kreg.steppe via Creative Commons

Despite the warnings we receive every Halloween regarding the possibilities of poisoned candy, snopes.com says that there appears to be little evidence of such things actually occurring. There does appear to be some history of pins and razor blades finding their way into some treats, but according to snopes.com the number of recorded incidents perpetrated by strangers is quite low.

Is there a significant danger of your child being molested or abducted?

Kristen Anderson, director of the case analysis division for sex offender tracking at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reported that, “only nine non-family child abductions were reported in the United States between 29 October and 1 November over a 5-year period, none of which appeared to have any connection to trick-or-treating.”

What is so dangerous about Halloween?

Sperling’s BestPlaces indicates that the real danger on  Halloween involves crossing the street!
They analyzed more than four million records in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1990 – 2010 for children 0-18 years of age on October 31 and came up with a number of revealing statistics.

1. Halloween Was Deadliest Day of the Year for Child Pedestrian Accidents.
One hundred and fifteen child pedestrian fatalities occurred on Halloween over the 21 years of our analysis. That is an average of 5.5 fatalities each year on October 31, which is more than double the average number of 2.6 fatalities for other days.

2. The “Deadliest Hour” Nearly one-fourth (26 out of 115) of accidents occurred from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Over 60% of the accidents occurred in the 4-hour period from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

3. Middle of the Block Most Hazardous.  Over 70% of the accidents occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk.

4. Ages Most at Risk on Halloween. Most of the fatalities occurred with children ages 12-15 (32% of all child fatalities), followed by children ages 5-8 (23%).

5. Drivers Who Posed the Greatest Risk. Young drivers ages 15-25 accounted for nearly one-third of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween.

What can you do to prevent you or a loved one from being the cause or the victim of a traffic accident?



1. Don’t wear a mask that will limit your vision. Non-toxic face paint used properly can be scarier than any mask.



2. Make sure the costume you or your child wears is bright enough to be seen at night and does not impede mobility. If you are trying to get out of the way of a driver who isn’t paying attention it helps if you don’t trip over your costume.



3. Coach your kids not to cross in the middle of the street and especially not to run out from between parked cars.



4. Adults, if you are going to be out partying take a cab. Walking while intoxicated on the second most dangerous night of the year for pedestrians is not a good idea.



5. Don’t Assume! Just because you are in a crosswalk with the light doesn’t mean an on coming car will stop. The City of Chicago’s recent analysis of vehicle-pedestrian crashes found that almost 80 percent of those accidents occurred in or near crosswalks, often involving people who were crossing with the “walk” signal.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Find my iPhone app leads to arrest of very busy cell phone thief

Ayesha Hayes, of the 8800 block of South Colfax Avenue, was charged with felony theft and was ordered held on $200,000 bail on Monday by Circuit Court Judge Donald Panarese Jr. According to court records(Cook County Sheriff Dept. / September 2, 2013)

Ayesha Hayes, of the 8800 block of South Colfax Avenue, was charged with felony theft and was ordered held on $200,000 bail on Monday by Circuit Court Judge Donald Panarese Jr. According to court records(Cook County Sheriff Dept. / September 2, 2013)

It appears to have been a busy night for 39-year old Alicia Hayes, who was arrested and charged with stealing 10 cell phones worth more than $5,000 from a Near North nightclub according to yesterday’s Chicago Tribune.

She managed to steal all the phones over a period of just few hours from patrons of the Castle Chicago Night Club, 632 N. Dearborn St., according to police.

How did Hayes manage to steal 10 cell phones without anyone catching her in the act?

1. The state of awareness of most cell phone owners is pretty low to begin with, add the lack of focus brought on by a few drinks and it is easy to see how it could occur.

2. Most nightclubs are dark and crowded making it easy for thieves to get up close without the victims taking much notice.

3. Victims may have been having such a good time they didn’t even notice their phone was missing until she was long gone.

According to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan, an 18th District officer was flagged down by a female patron at about 4:15 a.m. and the woman told the officer that her iPhone had been stolen. The officer used the Find my iPhone app to track the woman’s phone.

CNET says the Find My iPhone app works on iOS devices and requires an iCloud account and a valid Apple ID. When turned on, Find My iPhone sends the geolocation data of your device to the servers at regular intervals, allowing you to find your phone from any other device you can log into (including Web browsers). Find My iPhone is installed by default with iOS 5 and 6, but must be turned on to be active. 

The tech-savvy officer was able to see that the phone was a little over a mile away and apparently traveling in a vehicle.  Officers responded and pulled over the vehicle on the 1500 block of North LaSalle with two women inside, and found the original victim’s phone along with nine other phones police said.
Ayesha Hayes, of the 8800 block of South Colfax Avenue, was charged with felony theft and was ordered held on $200,000 bail on Monday by Circuit Court Judge Donald Panarese Jr. According to court records, Hayes has an extensive criminal history for theft.

What can you do to prevent your cell phone from being robbed?

1. Be on guard when using your phone at restaurants, bars, clubs and especially when traveling on public transportation.

2. When not using your phone put it away where it can’t be seen.  Do not leave your phone lying out on a bar, table or on top of an open handbag.

3. Think of your phone as the amount of cash it would take to replace it.  If you were carrying $500.00 in cash around with you would you be holding it in your hand for everyone to see?  Would you leave it sitting on a bar, a table in a restaurant, or the counter in a store? 

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

ATM skimming: What can you do to avoid becoming a victim?

A customer uses a Chase Bank ATM on March 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Just north of Chicago in the suburb of Wilmette a similar Chase Bank ATM was tampered with in an attempt to skim credit and debit card information. Credits:   Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A customer uses a Chase Bank ATM on March 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Just north of Chicago in the suburb of Wilmette a similar Chase Bank ATM was tampered with in an attempt to skim credit and debit card information.
Credits: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some customers will look around to see if anyone is loitering nearby before they withdraw cash from an ATM, but they probably wouldn’t have spotted Ahmet Cilek, who was sentenced Wednesday to 62 months of imprisonment for his participation in an ATM skimming scheme, or Miroslav M. Slavov, 26, of 9011 N. Chester Avenue in Niles, who the Tribune reported, was charged with burglary and possession of “a document making implement” after he was arrested on May 26 near a Chase Bank ATM at 50 Skokie Boulevard in Wilmette.

These two thieves didn’t need to be waiting near an ATM to victimize the people using it.

The Tribune reported Wednesday, that Chase Bank officials notified police that there was an illegal device on the ATM, at their Wilmette location, and officers established a stakeout of the cash machine and arrested Slavon when he returned to pickup the device, said chief Brian King.

“It was a nice observation by Chase and a very timely call to the police department,” said King. “That’s what made this case successful.”

The police checked the security camera monitoring the machine and began surveillance. Slavov was arrested when he returned to the machine to collect the equipment he had placed on the ATM.

How does skimming work?

Devices are placed over card readers, which include pinhead-sized cameras and well-crafted attachments that sit snugly on top of ATM card readers and PIN pads, looking just like the real equipment.  Examples of this type of device can be viewed at Krebs-on- Security and Hoax-Slayer.  Bluetooth technology allows the fake card reader and PIN pad to talk to each other, and data drives or wireless technology can make downloading of stolen information quick and easy.

Given such clever engineering, consumers may not be able to tell that a machine has been compromised. Banks may not know either.  According to Wilmette Police Chief Brian King, “Generally skimming devices are put on over weekends,” he said. “If you’re withdrawing cash, especially on a Friday or Saturday, make sure the ATM device is authentic, that there’s nothing on the front of it that could be acting as a card reader.”
Perpetrators of such fraud often place skimmers on outdoor ATMs on Friday evenings and remove them before the bank opens on Monday. The data is typically passed to crooks in another country within hours.

What can you do to avoid becoming a victim?

1. Protect your pin. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any cameras from catching your digits.



2. Give It A Wiggle – Skimming devices are often false panels attached to the ATM—such as where you put your card into the machine. If parts of the ATM look damaged or different, give it a wiggle.



3. Choose Your ATMs Wisely – Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or low trafficked areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over standalone ATMs in public places.



4. Watch Your Statements – The most vigilant person can still fall victim to ATM skimmers, and it’s important to always keep a close eye on your accounts.



5. Report Fraud Immediately – Report any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it.


You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

What can we do to avert another bombing?

The possibility of another bombing taking place in the near future seems likely when you consider how easy it is to build a pressure cooker bomb as CFN reported yesterday, and a Newsday article indicates that while the bombs used in Boston may have been more sophisticated than originally reported, the components are all commercially available.

Officer Mike Montmorency and his bomb sniffing dog stand by at the start of the Salt Lake City Marathon. Due to the Boston bombing security was dramatically increased, and spectators were asked to leave backpacks at home Credits:   George Frey/Getty Images

Officer Mike Montmorency and his bomb sniffing dog stand by at the start of the Salt Lake City Marathon. Due to the Boston bombing security was dramatically increased, and spectators were asked to leave backpacks at home
Credits: George Frey/Getty Images

You will no longer go to a race to compete or cheer on your friends or family without worrying that an unattended backpack lying nearby might contain a bomb.

Photos taken at the scene of the blast, and released by the Joint Terrorism Task Force of Boston, indicate that a pressure cooker packed with nails and ball bearings and hidden inside a backpack was used in the explosions. These low-tech explosive devices can be made from household items found in your local hardware store and instructions on how to build these deadly devices are available on the internet.

Security will be tight at future races, but how do you secure an entire course, especially at a marathon?

CNN addressed the difficulties of securing such events.  “It’s extremely challenging because it’s not a secure environment,” said police Cmdr. Noah Johnson of Tempe, Arizona, where an annual charity run in honor of slain Army Ranger Pat Tillman was held Saturday.
“We can’t put fences around it; we can’t put an officer every 2 feet,” he said. “So we rely on every set of eyes out there.”

Living in a free society does not come without risk so as citizens of that free society we are going to have to step up and start taking more responsibility for our safety.  We have to be those extra sets of eyes.

What can you do to help avert another bombing like the one in Boston?

1. Develop your awareness.  The best defense against these types of bombings is an awareness of your surroundings.  Make the act of paying attention to your surroundings and what is going on around you something you practice everyday, not just for weeks or months after a catastrophic event.

2. “If You See Something, Say Something™” If you see something suspicious taking place then report that behavior or activity to local law enforcement or in the case of emergency call 9-1-1.  Unattended backpacks, bags, and suitcases in a public place or someone trying to break into a restricted area should be reported immediately. 

3. Don’t be afraid to speak up.  Is that your backpack?  Asking a simple question like that may sound intrusive, but it could save lives.  The inconvenience caused by a false alarm pales in comparison to the damage done if the bag explodes.

4. Know where safety lies.  You should think about where and how you will exit a building or area before something bad happens.  Where are the exits?  “Always looking for a way out” is what Linda Simmons of Douglasville, Georgia, calls it. But it’s not just Boston that’s put her in that mindset. It’s the September 11 terror attacks. The bloodbath last year at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. The Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings.  “All of it, everything that’s happened,” she said.

5. Get clear of the area.  If you see an unattended bag, backpack or someone stuffing a backpack-sized bag into a garbage can get clear and report it.  If you survive a bomb explosion get out of the area immediately and take your bags with you. 

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Melee on Mag Mile caused more angst than injury

The warm Easter weekend brought out crowds of shoppers to Chicago's Mag Mile and a lot of teens looking for trouble. Credits:   KathyPryn via Creative Commons

The warm Easter weekend brought out crowds of shoppers to Chicago’s Mag Mile and a lot of teens looking for trouble.
Credits: KathyPryn via Creative Commons

It was a beautiful day to be shopping and sightseeing down on Chicago’s Mag Mile, but around 6 p.m. Saturday things started to turn ugly with reports of teens intentionally bumping into people and fighting amongst themselves near the intersection of Chicago and Michigan.

DNAinfo.com reported “We were there, we were on top of it, and we dispersed it immediately,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference at the Calumet District police station Monday.

“I also want to be clear: There were no assaults, robberies or property damage that was reported” at the time of the 17 Mag Mile arrests, McCarthy said.

Community activist Andrew Holmes saw something different while shopping with his family. “You had a group of teens, close to maybe 500. They assaulted a Chicago police officer that was mounted on a horse and all of a sudden they assaulted a citizen walking the streets, just a normal citizen shopping and enjoying the weather,” said Holmes, according to CBSChicago.

The melee on Michigan Avenue was the least violent action to take place on the streets of Chicago Easter weekend. DNAinfo.com reported that two people died and at least 20 others were injured by gun violence during another bloody weekend in the city. 

Early Easter Sunday morning 8 people were shot, 1 fatally, in under an hour. 

These shooting took place on Chicago’s south and west sides, not on it’s Magnificent Mile, so many people won’t hear about them, but because a bunch of teens invaded prime real estate there will be headlines all over the country.

What is going to happen when the weather eventually turns warm and then hot?

According to the Chicago Tribune a spokesman for the union that represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers also expressed concern about how the police department will respond to such disturbances during the spring and summer.

Patrick Camden, the spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, also noted that Ald. Brendan Reilly, whose 42nd Ward covers the downtown area, has proposed that businesses hire off-duty cops to patrol North Michigan Avenue.

What steps should you consider taking in case the police aren’t there in large numbers to quell the next mob action?

1. Start paying attention to who is nearby and what is taking place around you.  Just because you are in, what most people consider a safe area doesn’t mean you should lower your guard. 

2. Scan ahead of you as you walk down the street the way you would if you were driving a car checking the traffic ahead of you.

3. If you witness a group causing trouble by blocking sidewalks or jostling people walk into a store or restaurant and call 311 the Police Departments non-emergency number, and report your concerns.  If you witness something more serious call 911.

4. When walking or sitting alone refrain from texting which prevent you from seeing trouble coming your way, or using ear buds or headphones which may prevent you from hearing it.

5. If you are the victim of a strong-arm robbery giving them what they want may help you avoid serious injury, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still try to harm you.  Throw your valuables in one direction and run in the other.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Store employees beaten during robberies in Lincoln Square

Police have issued an alert for a man who beat up workers during retail robberies in the Lincoln Square nieghborhood in the last few days. Credits:   By David Wilson 1949 via Creative Commons

Police have issued an alert for a man who beat up workers during retail robberies in the Lincoln Square nieghborhood in the last few days.
Credits: By David Wilson 1949 via Creative Commons

The employees of a pet store on Leland in the Lincoln Square area were still in shock yesterday over a violent robbery which took place there late last week, reported NBC Chicago.

The Soggy Paws’s SP2 pet supply store was the first of two robberies in the area in the last few days. The neighborhood’s second robbery occurred on Sunday afternoon, less than a mile south of SP2, at the clothing resale shop Second Journey Resale.

Chicago Area North police issued a community alert about the incidents. Both took place when just one employee was present, and in both cases, a man punched the store employees after taking money from their registers.

On March 21, a man entered a business in the 2300 block of West Leland Avenue around 4:15 p.m. and asked a clerk for help, then walked up to the counter and announced a robbery, police said.

Redeye Chicago reported that Emily Frank, an employee at SP2, in the 2300 block of West Leland Avenue, said a man last Thursday brought pet supplies up to the counter and the announced to her co-worker that he was being robbed.

“He was told to go to the back room. Then the guy roughed him up,” she said. “It was awful. Terrible. There was only $80 in the drawer.”

On Sunday, the man walked into a business in the 1900 block of West Montrose Avenue around 2:45 p.m., asked for help, then grabbed a worker and announced a robbery, police said. The worker handed over money and tried to leave, but the robber punched the worker in the face.
The unnecessary violence has many people concerned.  The victims were beaten even though they complied with the robber’s demands.   

What lessons can we takeaway from these recent attacks?

1. Complying with a robber’s demands is no guarantee that you will escape unharmed.

2. When working alone in a retail store consider arming yourself with mace/pepper spray or a taser, but only if you train to use it properly and are willing to use it.

3. Just because the customer appears to be nice doesn’t mean they are.  The suspect in these robberies acted nicely, right up until he grabbed the employee, took the money, and then hit them.

4. Where you are most comfortable is where you are most vulnerable.  Just because you work in a store in what is believed to be a “safe neighborhood” doesn’t mean you should let down your guard.

5. If you have doubts about a customer’s intentions maintain a safe distance or try to keep a barrier, such as a counter, between you and them. 

6. Never go to a second location even if it is in the store.  The employee at SP2 was told to go to a backroom of the store, where the robber beat him up.  Stay where the public can see you and where you have a better chance of escape.

The police alert describes the offender as a black man between 35 and 45 years old, and between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 2 inches, 240-250 pounds, with a medium to dark complexion. It also said he as wearing a beige jacket, dark jogging pants, and dark gym shoes.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.