Safety tips

POSTED: 02/23/16 7:41 PM

What is the best way to act in case you become the victim of a robbery? As with everything, it depends, but the best solution we once read about was from a Chinese supermarket owner in, if we remember correctly, Bonaire. “They come in here with a gun and demand money. We give them the money and then they go away.”

It is as pragmatic as it will ever be, but we hear that this attitude is also the reason why so many Chinese establishments become the targets of armed robberies.

It is then better to put up a fight? Again, that depends. Is the robber armed? How many robbers are there? How fit are you for putting up a fight and, more importantly, what is it worth to you? If the choice is between say, losing a hundred bucks and a bullet in your head, what would you chose? That’s a very personal choice that makes us think of this Jewish joke.

A Jew is confronted by an armed robber who says: “Your money or your life!”

The Jew remains silent for so long that the robber gets impatient.

“What’s it gonna be?”

“I’m thinking! I’m thinking!” the Jew says.

Well, that is not exactly the advice local law enforcement would give you.

In a full page ad that appears today, the police first of all focus on precautions. Basically: always be aware of your environment, have as little cash as possible in your store and install security cameras. As we all know, this will not necessarily prevent a robbery, because when a criminal is bent on doing something, it will happen.

Then what?

The first tip from the police is: stay calm, because you are a better observer when you are calm. Yeah, that’s easier said than done. Who manages to stay calm when a brutal robber points a gun at his head? Or at the head of an employee? Maybe somebody ought to start giving stay calm training.

The second tip is: watch out for your own safety. We don’t know what to make of this. When you’re in the middle of a robbery you probably are basically thinking that your goose is cooked. Don’t move! Sounds like a good piece of advice here.

While these first pointers seem rather useless – or better, quite complicated to put into practice during a high pressure situation – the next ones make more sense.

Let the robber know that you will cooperate, the police suggest, adding that this will keep the robber (hopefully, we’d like to add) calm as well. Don’t forget that most armed robbers are hyped up teenagers who are probably as nervous as their victims. In such a situation, anything can happen.

After some more pointers about being careful a rather surprising idea follows: hit the alarm when it is safe to do so. We’d call that quite a gamble. When is this safe? Probably when the robbers are out of your store and not a second earlier. And then, what’s the point of making a lot of noise? It seems more logical to call the police and take it from there.

The tips contain a number of don’t as well. The first one: try not to resist. We’d like to correct that one: drop the word try and simply do not resist. Think about the Chinese guy in Bonaire instead.

The second one is for most store owners probably a bit tougher to follow: never outwardly panic. Hmm. How do you control fear? There is no wisdom on offer in that field.

The last one we’d like to highlight is a real beauty: when you scream or gesture to call attention to the situation, first think of the right time to do so.

This seems to contradict all these pointers about cooperating, staying calm and not panicking. If a scream is not hitting the nerves of a young armed robber, we don’t know what will. Our suggestion: don’t even think about it, because the right moment will only arrive once the robber has left – and then you have better things to do like calling the police.

The number seven of things you should not do makes more sense: make no sudden movements that may anger the robbers or cause them to panic.

All in all, we’d say that the way people will react to a robbery is very personal. One potential victim may cooperate while the next one may take a baseball bat and go for the punks who try to rob him of his earnings. Remember though, playing hero seldom ends well.

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