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Potential for violent crime exists even in safe communities

By: Mike Nottoli, Rocklin Police Department
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At 1:30 p.m. on Jan.10, an armed robbery occurred in the Safeway parking lot on Sunset Boulevard and Park Drive. In that incident, a female victim was robbed at gunpoint by a female suspect. The suspect fled in a vehicle driven by another suspect. Both suspects are still at large at this time. Since Jan. 1, 2009, there have been three robberies reported in the city of Rocklin. Two of the robberies involved the use of a weapon and the other involved physical force. The suspects in the other two robberies have been identified. These robberies are a reminder that although we live in a very safe community, the potential for violent criminal activity exists at any place and time. Therefore, it pays to understand robbery and how typical robbers operate, be aware of your environment and take preventative measures whenever possible and have a “response plan” in place in the event that you or others around you are robbed. Avoiding robbery involves learning to control your environment and actions and making them as safe as possible. By learning to recognize, anticipate and avoid potential hazards, people and places, you can usually keep yourself out of trouble. Remember that robbers and other criminals look for easy targets. Therefore, if you continually place yourself in vulnerable situations, you are more likely to become a victim.When you are being approached by someone or when you are entering an area where people are present, be aware of the following elements: Hands - Watch other people’s hands and be aware of those who purposely conceal their hands. Weapons - Be aware of potential weapons concealed, carried by or available to others around you. Friends/accomplices/associates - Robbers sometimes work in pairs or teams, so be aware of multiple suspects. Avoid “tunnel vision,” which is concentrating on one person and being surprised by or unaware of others. Escape routes - Be thinking of how, when and where you can escape if you need to. Footing/terrain/environment - Consider where the confrontation is taking place and act accordingly. Is there space to move? Are you in an elevator, parking lot, crowded store, etc.? In certain cases, your environment may influence how you might respond. Cover and concealment - In an extreme case when someone has a gun and is shooting or about to shoot in your direction, try to get behind something substantial that will stop a bullet. For example, if you are in a grocery store when shots are fired, ducking behind a refrigerator will offer you better protection than a rack of potato chips. You can also use concealment to your advantage if you can successfully hide from an attacker. Finally, the best response is usually that of cooperation. Give the robber what he/she wants. The longer the robbery takes, the more nervous the robber may become and the more likely he/she is to become violent. Do not resist a robber. No amount of money or property is worth risking a life. In most situations, robbers don’t hurt people who cooperate. Here are some other considerations: Although pepper spray, sound alarms, stun guns and other self-defense type devices may be useful in responding to physical assault situations, they are generally not recommended for use during robbery situations. Try to inform the robber of any surprises. If you work in a small store and someone is expected back soon, or if you must reach or move in any way to retrieve the money, tell the robber what to expect so they will not be startled. A suspicious move on your part may trigger a violent reaction. If the robber displays a weapon or claims to have one, consider it loaded/functional and recognize the fact that the robber may not hesitate to use it if necessary. Take all demand notes seriously. If you are working in a business with a robbery alarm, activate the robbery alarm only if it can be done without being obvious to the robber. In most cases, it may be safer to wait until the robber leaves to activate any alarm. Do not chase or follow the robber. Police officers arriving on the scene may think you are the robber if you are running out of a business, around the corner, etc. Call the police immediately. The speed of reporting is critical to the apprehension of the offender. Don’t assume that the alarm company is calling the police. Give the dispatcher the time of the robber(s)’s departure, the description and direction and method of travel and whether there are any weapons involved. Be specific about the weapon to prepare officers who are responding.