The five stages of violent crime

This post is slightly off topic, but none of what we talk about on this blog matters if you can’t keep yourself and your family safe.  When it comes to crime, everyone tells you to “be aware”, “trust your instincts”, etc.  What I almost never see are specifics about how a crime is likely to happen.

Yesterday evening I had to run an errand downtown.  I pulled in to the site parking lot just before dusk and parked my truck.  Almost immediately after I shut off the truck a black man about 6 foot tall in his mid to late 20s started walking over to where I was parked.  This by itself set off alarm bells for me because I really don’t like strangers walking up to me in this kind of setting.  He came up to my window and didn’t walk away when I shot him a look.  I rolled my window down just a little bit and leaned away while I asked him what he wanted.  He asked for a quarter, and I told him I didn’t have one and rolled the window back up.  He started to walk away so I started to put on my camo rain jacket.  It was raining off and on and I learned later we were under a tornado warning at the time.

I kept my eye on him while I put my jacket on and saw him circle around in my mirror and stand by the left rear corner of my truck.  When he did this I pulled out my pocket knife and was in the process of deciding whether to grab my cell phone or my headache bag next.  This guy was definitely starting to give me a headache (and scaring the crap out of me).  After just a few moments he started to walk back to my window again, so I moved over in the seat of my truck to better face him and put some distance between me and the window.  As I did this he circled back again and eventually walked away to another section of the parking lot.  Once he was safely away I got out of my truck and headed straight to the open area of the site and went in.

Once inside I suggested to the receptionist that they might want to have security check out the parking lot since there was a guy out there who didn’t look like he had any legitimate business there.  She didn’t hesitate or ask any further questions, and actually cut me off while she turned and asked someone out of view to call security.

Essential Contents of Dalrock's Headache Bag

Essential Contents of Dalrock’s Headache Bag

The guy himself didn’t look out of the ordinary.  He was fairly well dressed, didn’t need a haircut or a shave, and didn’t look talk or move like your typical thug.  But everything he did was textbook for an attack.  Once I had parked, I had inadvertently created a sheltered place where he could have attacked and presumably robbed me without anyone seeing.  There was a tree and a line of shrubs in front of my truck, and the truck itself would have prevented us from being seen from the building entrance.  It would be easy to pass off my instinct that something was wrong and attribute it to being overly cautious, racism, whatever.  Unless you know the five stages of violent crime that is. The guy in question had just completed stages one through three.  Stage 4 is the attack itself.  Check out the link if you don’t believe me.  Actually, I highly suggest you check it out either way.  It could help you or your family a great deal one day.

Note: The pocket knife and the contents of the headache bag are all legal for me to have in my truck in Texas.  Your local laws will likely be different.

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38 Responses to The five stages of violent crime

  1. J says:

    After just a few moments he started to walk back to my window again, so I moved over in the seat of my truck to better face him and put some distance between me and the window. As I did this he circled back again and eventually walked away to another section of the parking lot.

    That he coolly backed off when you squared off for a confrontation leads me to believe that he was a potential attacker. Otherwise, he would have appeared confused or threatened himself. He was in fighting mode.

  2. dalrock says:

    Good point. My sense was that he really wanted me to get out of the truck first and come at me then. My not getting out of the truck and keeping my doors locked was probably enough.

    The thing is, the whole time this was happening I was having a hard time believing it. I really wanted to tell myself it was nothing to worry about. I’m not sure how to explain it. Even when your gut is telling you something is very wrong and you know it on a logical level as well, part of you wants to deny it. I had the foresight to bring a loaded gun and knew the information in that site, but still I had that doubt; this can’t really be happening. It all happened pretty quickly as well. The whole thing took maybe 30 seconds. This is why I think the site I linked to is so extremely valuable. He talks about exactly that feeling and how it gets people into very bad spots.

  3. Hope says:

    Good link and advice, and yes, good people want to believe that other people are also good. Unfortunately this is not always the case, or even most of the time the case. But I’ve met enough negative people to know they exist and that they do pose danger.

    Common courtesy often gets people in trouble, like a stranger stopping you to ask for something, and so my method of dealing with it is to be “rude” but under the guise of being shy. It has worked for me, closed body language, never engaging in prolonged eye contact, and not stopping when people try to talk to me. I suppose this is like “avoiding the interview” part, so there is no initial contact for the stages to continue.

  4. Tom says:

    Good instinct. But lose the Para [nickle-plated sissy pistol] and get a Glock. OK, seriously, love your writing, and especially the ELP pieces.

  5. dalrock says:

    LOL I’ve thought about a Glock 36. If I get my CCW I might look into one. The stainless Para is a very nice gun, but probably more than I’d want to try to conceal.

    Glad you like the blog.

  6. Barry says:

    How did the man’s race add to this post? Do you think black people don’t surf the web. You’ve lost a reader. Shame on you.

  7. Barry says:

    BTW, I carry and support gun rights but your post was beyond the pale.

    Bookmark removed.

  8. dalrock says:

    It would be easy to pass off my instinct that something was wrong and attribute it to being overly cautious, racism, whatever.

  9. John says:

    Excellent post, and thank you for the link to the “five stages of violent crime” site. Now in my mid-fifties and having been around the block multiple times, having been involved in violent encounters including “shots fired” (I’m not L.E.), the site argued the stages and the need for recognition of each perfectly. “Situational awareness” is everything and a “forward posture” is critical.

    I’m not going to bother with the “sissy gun” comment because I’ve carried everything from a nickeled 4″ Model 29 S&W .44 Mag. purchased back in ’73 (still have it) and carried in a Bianchi shoulder rig to an absolutely impressive Springfield Armory XD .45 in recent times. Shoot what you like and keep it with you.

    Regarding the comments by “Barry.” Methinks he complains way too much and is way overly sensitive.

    When I was a lad, when a crime report came over the airwaves, whether on radio or T.V., the race of the alleged perpetrators was always given, particularly if the suspects were still on the loose. By about 1970, that facet of the reporting was muzzled. Rather than “Four (insert race here) males believed to be in their mid-twenties fled the robbery scene in a 1966 Red Mercury…” Now we have all of the above with critical identifying characteristics totally absent. Today such a report would read “Four males fled the scene in a early 90’s silver Honda Accord…” That helps a bunch, eh? Four guys in a Honda is like trying to pick out blades of grass on a football field. At least narrow it down to “On the white hashmark on the short side of the field at the thirty yard line.” Yes, I wrote the word “white.”

    Let’s face it. All races have their share of psycho/sociopaths, but for the sake of accuracy, let’s cite some data that may provide some reasoning behind the authors mentioning that the individual perceived as a threat happened to be black. Aside from the fact that he was Black, factually speaking, according to the latest F.B.I. data Blacks commit 52% of all murders in the U.S. From a demographic standpoint, Blacks comprise 13% of the population. That’s a whole lot of murdering being done by a relatively small sliver of the population. And these sort of numbers have been fairly consistent for decades. One might actually argue that the rate is just a tad disproportionate. Maybe if it was 17% or so one could pretty well dismiss the slightly higher statistical rate, but 52% versus 13% is a bit of an eye-opener. In fact it’s a big enough gap to cause a phenomenon somewhat incorrectly referred to as, egads, “prejudice.”

    Let’s take myself as a case in point. During broad daylight in office, field, or market settings, I have no problem interacting with people from any race, period. Un- prejudice. People who are comporting themselves in a civilized manner are thus treated accordingly.

    Change the situation to dusk and later and depending on what part of town I happen to be in, I, knowing the data listed above shift into a heightened state of “situational awareness” and indeed, race does play a factor regarding my psychology. I refuse to ignore decades of statistically cited behavior regarding violent crime and race, as well as the racial make-up of gangs, these being overwhelmingly Black and Hispanic. Thus, when I see members of these races out at night, I tend to observe their behavior with heightened scrutiny because statistics says to not do so would be stupid. I’m not ignorant of the facts, therefore having the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” attitude after sundown or in “less desirable” parts of town is just plain stupid.

    What “Barry” should be truly offended about is the fact that decades of statistically high levels of violent and murderous behavior by Blacks (as well as by Hispanics, but primarily Blacks) is causal of what is erroneously referred to as “prejudice” in these sorts of circumstance. Worse yet, assuming “Barry” is a Black male, what should truly send him through the roof is not the author accurately describing the event, but the staggering amount of “Black on Black” violence and the failure of the Black Community as a whole to address this situation. Witness Chicago, where guns are already outlawed and the political hacks there call for more anti-gun legislation because of Blacks killing other Blacks. Legislation isn’t going to stop that insanity. Nothing short of the resurrection of the Black family headed by the male is going to end that problem. Do you hear the local Ward politicians and the Reverend Wrights of the world demanding that? Not surprisingly, no.

    That subject opens another Pandora’s Box, that being Black illegitimacy (71%) and the resulting matriarchial so-called “families” headed by single black females that are responsible for producing these violent predators. Back in 1964, Black illegitimacy was 24%, so what we have in front of us, regardless of the hundreds of billions thrown into the “War on Poverty” over the last several decades, is a structural social collapse on the part of Blacks in this country. Again, where are the Black leaders decrying this? Al Sharpton? Jesse Jackson? Any of the other “Reverend’s? Anyone?

    Name the race of the alleged perpetrator no matter what.

  10. dalrock says:

    You are welcome to visit this blog or not. But the kind of hysteria and bullying you are attempting is responsible for getting a lot of innocent people hurt. How many whites ignore their instincts because people like you have shamed them into fearing every thought they have is racist? I described the man accurately. I didn’t make a bigger deal out of his race than his height, gender, age, or dress.

    Trying to shame whites into thinking they are racist for everything has gotten very old.

  11. Random says:

    Let me ask you a question:
    Suppose a white guy was approaching you with the possible intent to attack you. Are you going to say “nah, he’s white, he’s OK, it would be racist to think otherwise”? Or are you going to act on your suspicions as Dalrock did?

    What if Dalrock had actually been attacked? What would you have said?

    Criminal conduct and avoiding it is a problem that crosses *all* racial boundaries… maybe you forgot that. I don’t care if the guy is white, black, red, blue, green, whatever, if he’s approaching in a menacing manner, I’m outta there. Gotta live to fight another day and all that.

  12. Pol Mordreth says:

    Sissy gun, Tom? Really? Fanboys suck.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, Glock makes nice weapons. They’re functional, accurate, and fit most peoples’ mitts. But so does para, kimber, and most other manufacturers of the 1911 style. Myself, I carry a Ruger p-series.

    @Dalrock, if you do decide to offload that beautiful para, email me. 😉 And get your carry permit. Headache bags are okay, but in the distance between your truck and the building a lot can happen. I’m lucky that here in TN open carry is included in the permit so I don’t have to worry about a cover garment in the summer.

    Also, before you buy a carry piece of any manufacture, make sure you try a few out at the range. Most compact carry guns are hard to control and fire accurately. Find one that fits your hands, especially on the draw.


  13. Van says:

    Here’s a relevant story:

    “The woman had just left the Babies R Us store on when she noticed a man in a tattered military coat lurking in the parking lot, she told police. The woman told detectives she was worried because the man looked like a thug, but she didn’t want to seem racist.”

    This woman succumbed to the shaming to the extent that she put herself into a situation where she was raped. A situation she could have avoided. But you’re right Barry, its better if white people get assaulted and raped than if a black person has his feelings hurt because a white person avoided him. Lesser of two evils.

  14. J says:

    The thing is, the whole time this was happening I was having a hard time believing it. I really wanted to tell myself it was nothing to worry about. I’m not sure how to explain it. Even when your gut is telling you something is very wrong and you know it on a logical level as well, part of you wants to deny it.

    That’s how people get hurt, by ignoring their guts. I’ve both over- and under-reacted to possible threats. In fact, I’ve even seen police under-react; a girl was nearly raped outside my house because both the cops and I both mistook a stranger attack for a drunken fight between a couple because it was bar time. It’s better to over-react.

  15. Van says:

    I foolishly stopped for gas near dusk in a bad part of town. While filling the tank, a man approached and asked for change. I initially said no and pointed out that I had come from the gym, didn’t have my wallet, and had paid with my check card – no cash, but he hung around trying to make small talk while I finished. Throughout all of this, I found his body language threatening, and he seemed tense. I adopted an assertive posture and kept my eyes on him.

    As I moved to the driver’s side, he moved with me. I sat down and he sat on the guard rail blocking me from closing my door. My car keys were in a velcro sealed pocket near the knee of my shorts. No fast getaway. I “remembered” that I had a little bit of change in the car and gave it to him (probably stupid, in hindsight). He still didn’t move, and then asked me to give him a ride to a grocery store – the grocery store whose parking lot was adjacent to the gast station. I said no.

    At this point, he said, “don’t take this as a threat, but there was a time when I just took whatever I wanted from people.” Well, anytime someone says, “don’t take this as a threat,” whatever he says next is absolutely a threat. I sat up very straight, said there was absolutely no way he was getting in my car, and he needed to move his so I could close the door and leave.

    Very little doubt in my mind that things would’ve ended very badly had I given him a ride. Everyting this guy did fits the first three stages (intent, interview, and positioning), which I never read until today.

  16. J says:

    Now in my mid-fifties and having been around the block multiple times

    Middle age can put you at increased risk for attack. My father, a former boxer, was attacker by a street thug when he was in his mid-60s. He looked like an old man out walking a dog. Unfortunately for the attacker, he picked the wrong guy. My dad knocked him down with one punch, injuring his own hand. With the hand swelling, my father decided to use his feet and kicked the attacker so hard that blood splurted up on to my father’s shirt. Passers-by intervened to stop what looked my dad attacking the thug. The thug ran off; the crowd realized who had started the attack and let my dad go When my mom saw all the blood she nearly had a heart attack; she thought my dad had been stabbed in the gut.

  17. dalrock says:

    I didn’t take Tom’s sissy gun comment seriously. I think he was just playing around. The whole 1911 vs Glock is such well tread ground on any gun forum, and I think he was making a joke about that. I really love my Para and don’t plan on parting with it. 🙂

    As for CCW, you are right. This reminded me that I wanted to do that. We think we can arrange a sitter so both my wife and I can take the class together. In this specific case it wouldn’t have helped because (probably not a coincidence) the site itself prohibited carry. So the guy had to know anyone leaving their vehicles would be doing so unarmed. It did make me realize I need to keep that bag more handy. I had stuffed it behind the seat of the truck, which I’ve never done before. Usually I have it down on the passenger side floor. Now I’ll keep it at my fingertips.

    In Tx we don’t have open carry, so in the hot months I’m not sure how to conceal since I typically wear shorts and a T shirt. I’m not in a rush to buy something new, unless Mrs Dalrock picks out a revolver she likes. As for your Ruger P Series, that is a full frame autoloader, right? I have a P89 and that thing is really big. I think my full size 1911 would actually be easier to conceal. I’m sure you have it all figured out though.

  18. dalrock says:

    Great story J. Good to hear when the good guys win.

  19. dalrock says:

    What struck me was I had read about exactly this psychological tendency. I would say I’m better prepared mentally than the average person to both recognize the threat and be willing to fight if needed. I was never in a position where the doubt might override my gut and logic, but the fact that it was even there really strikes me. I guess I understand better some of the stories I have read where people went ahead and walked right into a bad situation.

    I’ll just put another plug in for that website, because it is very specific about the kinds of scenarios you need to watch out for. Like I said most times you just get “be aware” “trust your instinct”, but he lays it all out in a very practical way that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Knowing the specifics should help people overcome the doubt better.

  20. Pol Mordreth says:

    Yeah, I openly carry most of the time in a paddle retention holster. Mine is a P94, same as your 89 but in .40. I do have a Crossbreed Supertuck holster that conceals it well under a polo or tee shirt if i have it at about the 4:30 position. Problem with it is it’s pretty heavy for shorts, but in jeans / cargo pants its fine. I’ve been thinking about an LCP or similar for ankle or pocket carry, but I cant seem to find one that will accomodate my paws. (heh)

    As far as the site banning carry, I was under the impression that the 30.06 signs didn’t apply to permit holders? I may be wrong on this though.

    @Tom: If you were teasing I apologise. I was only through one cup o coffee when I replied. 😉


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  23. mike says:

    How did the man’s age add to this post? Do you think people in their 20s don’t surf the web. You’ve lost another reader. Shame on you.

    PS: Black men in their 20s commit about half of all violent crime in this country, despite being less than 5% of the population. It would be suicidal to not be suspicious of them.

  24. clarence says:


    It’s true that young black men commit such crimes disproportionately. It’s even true that when crime is interracial it’s about 95 percent black on white.

    Still, somewhere around 90 percent of all the victims of young black mens violence are other young black men.

    In short, they mostly keep it to themselves and quite a bit of it is about money or women, not senseless per-se.

  25. Jean says:

    Might make myself VERY unpopular, but…
    Exit vehicle armed, if he has bad intents, his problem.
    (Assuming you won’t be on video. If you will, move to where you won’t, and pull the trigger.)

    Cold-blooded? Hey, so was the perp. Tough shit.
    Even better – use a knife, easier to conceal, easier to lose, much more cost-efficient, might need to make multiple trips – blood stains with a knife, as opposed to GSR with a gun.

  26. Rum says:

    I live in Texas and carry. DO get your CCL. If you have one, the cops treat you like one of the good guys. If you do not have one and have a handgun (even in your car)they think, “Why doesn’t he have a CCL? Does he have something on his record?”
    Having a valid, current carry license puts LE at ease about you even in dicey situations. That can be golden.

  27. dalrock says:

    Exit vehicle armed, if he has bad intents, his problem.

    Setting the moral issue aside, this is also the wrong course of action from both a tactical and legal perspective. In order to (further) determine his intent, you are suggesting placing yourself in greater danger to see what he would do. Legally it would become very difficult to explain how you feared for your life but chose to exit the vehicle and place yourself at greater risk.

    I do wish guys like him weren’t allowed to continue to prey on the rest of us, but I’m not anxious to be the one to pull the trigger. All in all aside from some dented pride the outcome was ideal.

  28. dalrock says:

    Good point Rum. This has certainly moved it up on my priority list.

  29. Gorbachev says:

    This was absolutely a setup. I’ve experienced this kind of thing several times, always at night, and always in less fancy parts of town. At one point, two men approached my car and one asked directions, and asked if I could get out and show him on his map. the other was standing about three paces behind. Both looked more thuggish than usual for the area, and alas, both were black. Neither looked as if they needed to go anywhere or seemed anxious to find anything on the map.

    I waved them off and slowly drove off.

    My situation wasn’t as obvious because I had lots of ways out; you sound like you made the right move.

  30. Gorbachev says:

    As far as racism is concerned, given that random violent crime is proportionally almost a black problem in America, and the stats speak to this more clearly than anything else, complaining about white people being anxious around black men is like complaining about mice being anxious when owls are out.

    There are lots of good, honest black men. There are way, way too many black criminals, usually young black males, to be able to complain that racism isn’t entirely justified as a self-defence mechanism in some situations.

    If people don’t like it – perhaps their anger is directed at the wrong targets.

  31. Richard Cook says:

    For God’s sake join the International Pistol Shooter’s Conference or the International Defensive Pistol Shooters Association. You will fight like you train and practice. Don’t think a couple of times to the range does it.

  32. Tom says:

    @ Pol — Yeah, it was a joke. But no offense taken because I can completely understand the insufficienit java syndrome (IJS).

    In reality, I am comfortable with my P-14, or my G23, or my P228, or my PM9, or hell even my old S&W 19.

  33. Bike Bubba says:

    Dalrock, I have personally carried my .38 S&W lightweight revolver inside my shirt with no one noticing–inside the belt holster with shirt gracefully over the handle. You might try a smaller pistol in the summer and do just that–most small frame 5 shot revolvers, and many small frame semi-autos, will be just fine this way.

  34. by_the_sword says:

    Sissy gun? I wouldn’t want to get shot by it.

  35. dalrock says:

    Great idea Bike Bubba. I think that is what I’ll probably end up doing. I haven’t fired a 38 snubby before, so I’ll rent one at a range that I go to. I like the idea of the little sig 232s, but from what I’ve read the snubby is probably a better bet since there is less to go wrong.

    I found a local place that offers the concealed carry course in one day. They even include the photos, fingerprints, and the notary at the same time. I’ll give them a call this week and schedule one of their classes.

  36. jkdway says:

    Very nice post! So glad you mentioned the MacYoung site – it’s such an incredibly valuable resource.

  37. Hearthrose says:

    Thanks for the link, made for some interesting reading and I’ve bookmarked it for further study.

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