Friday, December 5, 2008

Crime Tip of the Day: If you're a celebrity---Be afraid......

Buz was intrigued by two recent articles: one: the Laura Vozella piece about Michael Phelps's trips to Vegas and guess who's coming to dinner; two: the ESPN News piece about how it's been about a year since Sean Taylor was murdered in his home during a home invasion/robbery. And one could include any number of other pieces seen on the news or in the paper about other celebrities, where they live, what they're doing, where they hang out, etc. 

Buz advice: Celebrities, you are all in danger.

Since we've now entered the high crime time of the year, combined with hard times, lots of layoffs, and a criminal mindset along with an overwhelmed criminal justice system, all of us, whether we are world class athletes or not need to be extra careful.

The National Football League has a staff of mostly ex-FBI agents to protect the integrity of the game and to oversee security for the league, the teams, and the players--as well as protecting the "brand" of the league (they don't want too many of their players arrested or hurt). The league also assigns a security consultant to each team to look out for player protection. And most teams have their own security directors. Several players have been robbed, including during home invasions, and others have been threatened. A couple have been shot and killed, and one maimed.

So if you're a Raven, an Olympic athlete, a CEO, or just somebody who has their name mentioned a lot, some minor, brief tips:
  • Try not to let anyone except trusted friends and relatives know where you live. Some celebrities get Secret Service protection. If you don't, minimize the public knowledge of your house, neighborhood, or where you like to go to party or hang out. Especially don't mention or tell anyone in the press: they're sure to publish how neat it is that so and so lives here. Consider renting or having the house in a corporation's name or someone else, so that your name does not appear in the public record.
  • Make sure you home is secure; good solid locks--at least two on each door; a peep hole to see who's out there; and a solid hotel-style door lock, so it can be opened only party way and still be locked. The alarm systems  should be able to be activated when you're home. You're probably safeer in a high-rise and/or a gated community, but don't be lured into a false sense of security even there.
  • Watch where you go, and use good judgment about who you hang out with. It's probably not a good idea to be closing up the clubs and going to after-hours joints, especially with old friends who've gotten into trouble in the past. Watch people who are overly friendly, want to buy you drinks, or offer you something for nothing.
  • Try to have someone with you that you can trust to watch your back at public events.
  • Lower your profile as much as possible, except in your field (or on the field) as necessary.
  • If you think you are being followed when driving, make three right turns, if they're still back there, you are!
  • Above all, don't have this sense that oh, it can't happen to me.


Bmore said...

Hey Buz!

Nice crime tip. Sometimes when traveling out and about in Baltimore i get a unsafe feeling, especially when walking to and from my car. I am a registered gun owner, my question for you is: What realistic penalty would i face if i ever got caught carrying my registered firearm for protection?

i know its not a good idea, but ide like to know the realistic penalty i may face. Im a 26 year old college grad (UMBC of course), i also work a full time job. Im asking this question for a couple reasons, i believe that protecting myself and my lady is top priority, which is why i have registered firearms in our home.But in certain situations i feel the need to carry my firearm, for example : My lady's sister live in a pretty tough area of west baltimore, i also feel unsafe at night when taking my trash out since my street is so very dark at night...i really want to know if the risk out weights the ever present danger that exists in our community. Thank You.

buzoncrime said...

Bmore---Thanks for your honesty! You're not the only one who is out and about Baltimore and gets an unsafe feeling.
You are right about it not being a good idea.
Your question is a hard one to answer, but I'll try.

First of all, if you're out and about and nothing is happening and you're going to and from work, and you're not involved in the "game", the chances of your gun being discovered on you a pretty small--though I think you posted once before that you live close to the Corner in the Western District. So, the chances are higher that you might get jacked up by a Western District police jump out.

Your real penalty would be being taken to one of the outer fringes of Hell: Central Booking where you may spend hours and hours and hours waiting to see the commissioner or to have your case dismissed. And you run the risk of your valuables and ID being lost, thrown away or stolen by a small minority of the staff involved in your arrest.

When you come to court, a lot of variables come into play: many judges, in all honesty, would feel compelled to find you guilty, though some might give you PBJ. Of course, you could always ask for a jury trial. (And we're assuming a nice UMBC grad like you has no criminal record).

The real risk to you comes if you feel you may have to use the gun, and there are many; you are subject not only to criminal prosecution, but to being sued if you shoot someone mistakenly or use excessive force if someone is not armed. And there is always the risk that the house will get broken into while you're at work, and the bums will have another gun on the street.

So, on balance, I think that the risks of carrying you gun illegally outweigh the risks you might face in carrying it. So, a couple of recommendations:
~~Avoid the sister's house at night, if you can.
~~If you see suspicious characters nearby, go around the block till they leave, if possible.
~~If you feel unsafe taking your trash out, try to do it when it is still light out, and you can check to see if the coast is clear.
~~If it's that bad in your area, consider finding a way to move--if it's financially possible.
~~Put some outside light on your house's back area.
~~Email the city to check out the lighting in the area of your house.

Hope this helps!
All the best,
Buz, UMBC '71.

Bmore said...

THANK YOU! I was dying of laughter when i saw "Buz, UMBC '71"..thanks for the advice Buz!

buzoncrime said...

I guess that makes me a "couple" of years older than you, Bmore?

Anonymous said...

I got stopped at a checkpoint on Belair Rd when Bealefield took over in July 2007. They stopped me because of some repair violations. But I had the good fortune to share the name and dob of a dirtbag with an outstanding warrant and I had to assume the position on the curb for 30" or so while they checked things out. Fortunately this guy apparently had a neck tattoo (how gauche!), while my pristine hide is unmarked, except by the ravages of time and alcohol. Even more fortunate, all I had was a pocketknife, if I had been carrying an illegal weapon I would have take the ride downtown.

Most of the cops were pretty decent, even the one steroid- abusing mouthbreather was just this side of courteous (I'm white fwiw).

So you never know. Zach Sowers might have been better off if he'd been packing, he certainly couldn't be any worse off.

buzoncrime said...

THANKS, Anonymous---That's another situation where Bmore could get into a jam. Glad the cops were reasonably courteous. Bmore, though, lives near high-crime neighborhoods, so his chances of getting jacked up are higher: if he's found to be packing, they'll be packing him off to the hotel on Fallsway.

As far as Zach goes, only the perps now in prison know what and how it really went down. My guess, from what I read about Zach, is that he probably, even if armed, would not have pulled his gun out at their approach. He had a gentle personality, and was comfortable where he lived. If you're not ready, by the time they jump you it's too late. My guess is that they just pretended to walk down the street toward him, till they got close, then swooped (Buz doesn't really believe that only the one big guy did all the damage.)
Many years ago, Mary Ann Willin, who was then the Deputy State's Attorney, left a meeting at the State Office Building with an elderly judge. She saw, I believe, 4 suspicious looking guys coming towards them acting kinda funny. She felt unsafe, so, since she had a handgun permit, she surreptitiously put her hand on her gun and moved it to her coat pocket. Sure enough the guys tried to rob the judge; she pulled out her gun and popped a couple of them; the others ran away. So, she saw them comin' and got ready in advance. Most victims don't get that sixth sense warning. Plus she had a certain toughness, with no hesitation in willingness to shoot. I'm not sure most people would be willing to shoot; hesitate and a street thug will take it away from you.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Willin probably also felt secure that Pat Jessamy wouldn't charge her with attempted murder.

I agree about Zach. The closest I ever got to being mugged, the person was walking past me and then veered so she was right up against me with her finger in her pocket pretending it was a gun. That was in Penn North in 1993.

I called the cops but the one who responded knew exactly who I was referring to, he said she got like that when she was off her meds. Social workers in blue...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant Penn Station, not Penn and North -- I wouldn't even want to drive around there, much less walk amongst the friendly locals.