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.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Security tip of the day--ATMs

Buz was going to the bank to get some money at an ATM in order to finance his ravenous appetite for pizza. As he was pulling up, your consultant noticed a man get out of his car at the ATM, leaving the engine running with keys in the ignition and the door to his car open as he did a "quick" visit for some money to the machine.

Now, have realize that this was Roland Park, but come on. I've noticed that many people often have a false sense of confidence: It can't happen here; I don't need to worry; it won't happen to me.

This was the same ATM where a young mom was car-jacked at night and driven around the city for several hours several years ago. Fortunately, though terrified, she still had her cellphone while locked in the trunk of her car. Police were able to home in on her cell and found her car in Clifton Park-abandoned by the robber/abductors. And in front of this same bank, a woman's purse was snatched in Broad Daylight (I love that term!) several months ago.

It only takes a few seconds for a dirt-ball to rob you, then jump into your car and you've-provided him with the means to escape or a second car for his group.

Buz's advice:
  • Avoid using ATMs at night. Most are well lit, but you'll stand out like a sore thumb. If you must, use one inside somewhere that doesn't have a window. For example, the one in the 3100 block of St. Paul is inside, but anyone can stand outside and watch you get money and see where you put it. Try to use one in Whole Foods at Mt. Washington.
  • Avoid ATMs in high-crime on the street locations, where the machine is right there outside on the street--unless the guard is present. I don't, for example, recommend using the one at 26th and Charles anytime, unless both your car and the guard is there. 
  • If you're going to use one, survey the area as you approach, either on foot or in your car. Look for people "hanging around"--both in cars or on foot. If you see anyone staring at you, however briefly, consider not engaging in the transaction. Seriously. 
  • Watch out for corners and right angles of buildings, where someone could just be out of your sight. 
  • Don't leave your car running, even for  a moment, if you're not in it; and don't leave the door open. It draws attention and puts ideas in people's heads. You'd be surprised how many women leave the rest of their purse on the front seat.
  • If you do get confronted by a robber, try to make the transaction as quick as an ATM withdrawal--and as pleasant as possible. Do not resist unless you are specially trained or skilled to do so (I don't mean a self-defense class several years ago). Many of these stickup artists are drunk or high, have poor decision-making skills, and are impulsive. They are disinclined to put up with any "disrespect". You can say something like: here, you can have it, that's all I've got.
  • I would recommend at all costs not getting into their car or your car with  them. You may not have an option depending on your situation, but it should certainly be only if you have no other choice.
  • And of course a lot of people have almost stopped carrying cash altogether so they don't have to visit ATM machines hardly at all.