The Prepper Journal

How to Overcome the Paralysis of Fear

Editor’s Note: This article has been generously contributed by Egbert who joins the ranks of very experienced professionals who have written guest posts that serve to share their knowledge with the rest of the Prepping community. If you find yourself with something to say and wish to write an article, please get in touch with me on our Contact page. The preparedness community thrives with information and perspective from all walks of life and I am truly grateful to have so many wonder people like Egbert (and many others) who allow us to post their articles.

Fear can be controlled IF, you choose to control it. Your fears are most often, fictional creations based on all of the scary novels you’ve read, the scary films and television programs you’ve seen all based on the fictional creations of script writers, and special effects wizards in the entertainment industry.

Very rarely are our fears based on actual real life experience, but it can and does happen. When the hour of darkness approaches we seem to think that all sorts of evil creatures come out of the woods at night to prey upon us in our homes. Sometimes they do, but those evil creatures are of the two-legged variety and rarely if ever do we see the four-legged variety of creatures at night, we call predators.

We are going to focus on the two-legged variety of predators for the purposes of this article. From previous experiences, and from actual facts, we know that the majority of all residential burglaries do occur during the hours of daylight and not during hours of darkness. OK, we’ve got that “what if” out of the way.

Let’s talk to specific terms that indicate what kind of two-legged predators are lurking about that we might indeed come across in our day-to-day routines.

Cat Burglar

The “Cat-Burglar”, is a suspect/s that hits residences while the occupants are in residence, asleep our otherwise occupied in the residence. These residential targets can be single family dwellings, condos, apartments, manufactured housing, high density, low density, rural, suburban, urban and even in public campgrounds. This type of suspect is rare and romanticized in film and television shows as either a dashing jewel thief ala’ a leading man like Daniel Craig, or, an evil psychotic played by someone with the talent of Mr. Craig. In my past career, I never met a “dashing” jewel thief, most were quite ordinary looking and enjoyed the “thrill” of their caper much the same as any other serial predator enjoys their “thrills”. Cat burglars are few and far between and extremely rare.

Home Invasion

The “Home Invasion”, most often the result of an outstanding drug debt, or a scheme in which the suspect/s plan to “rip” or “do a lick”(robbery) of a known drug dealer or a stash house. The latter being a “clean” house where either drugs OR cash are “stashed” and no trafficking/sales activity takes place. In the espionage game, these are often referred to as “safe houses”.

Now the problem with those involved in the trafficking of controlled substances (drugs for ease of discussion) is that these suspect/s are extremely transient in nature and OFTEN change locations when their paranoia calls for it. As a result, their home or apartment location could be rented out again, to an unsuspecting party with zero ties to the previous tenant or the trafficking activity.

This is far more common than one might think. In particular, it is very common in Federally subsidized housing units. Which do have a significantly high incidence or rate of occurrence for “home invasion” style violent entries into the location.

What do you want to have by your side in the middle of the night?
What do you want to have by your bedside in the middle of the night?

Wrong place at the wrong time

The “Plain Old Mistaken Location”, again far more common than one might think suspect/s do indeed get bad information, wrong addresses or just plain “forget” where their intended target is actually located. I’ve even had a group of fellows’ flag me down at oh-dark-thirty one evening, asking me for “directions” to a specific location that I knew was a known trafficking location. As they pulled away, I called in backup units and these four fellows were taken into custody with their masks, duct tape, stolen firearms (robbery kit), and three of the four immediately ratted out the driver who was the intellectual leading the charge that night.

Who else would you ask for directions in a dodgy neighborhood at 0230 hours in the a.m.? Why the local beat cop of course, he would never suspect that the four salty looking fellows in that car all had the “parolee look” about them…

The above examples are just the kind of cretins that are indeed out and about when it turns dark. The others are your local area, as in really local neighbors, who are seeking targets of opportunity. Remember what we learned about previously? These are the truly lazy criminals that don’t care to work for their loot which they are going to fence off anyway for anywhere from 5-10% of the actual item value. It’s part of their cost-of-doing-business. These are the criminals who are most often highly addicted to strong drugs and are looking for convenient targets that are EASY to take off. Most are harmless and will flee if any light is turned on suddenly like the societal cockroaches they are.

Richard Ramirez, a serial killer based in Los Angeles, whose murder spree in California in the mid-1980s led to him being known as the “Night Stalker”

The last group we should discuss are the serious and dangerous serial offenders. These will be the hardcore predators seeking their targets of opportunity be they children, teens or adults. Most will be sexual serial predators, most will be somewhere in their devolution stage and will be just starting out, advanced or operating on the doctoral level of predation. All are extremely dangerous and most of these kinds of predators will caper at night and conduct their reconnaissance during day light hours to get the lay of the land so to speak prior to conducting their operations in a given location. Few are spontaneous (many times mistakenly called random); if they select a “spontaneous victim” they are almost always just starting out in their development as a predator and are prone to making all kinds of mistakes. The more devolved these offenders become, the less prone they are to making the mistakes. There is great interest and theoretical studies that have been conducted on predators that have been caught shortly after their initial start of predation and some of the studies are excellent at defining the predictors of how they choose their locations, the ages and gender of their victims, and the methods used to incapacitate and eventually murder their victims. Sounds pretty gruesome? It is gruesome. All serial predators devolve over time.

The infamous and notorious Ted Bundy is a prime example of how serial offenders devolve. If you “fit” his victim profile, and you “trusted” his charming and disarming ruse, you would be dead within minutes of getting into his VW Beetle. Who ever heard of a serial offender driving a VW Beetle until Ted Bundy? That was part of his tactical strategy to disarm his victims. If you didn’t match Bundy’s “victim profile” you would consider him the ideal next-door neighbor.

Let me share a personal example. Many years ago, many parts of California were plagued by a series of home-invasion homicides, that the press dubbed the work of the “Night Stalker”. At the time, I was employed by a Federal law enforcement agency and we were tasked with assisting in some of the grunt work by the main agency investigating the cases. I knew that most of the residences the suspect/s hit were yellow, and we at the time lived in a yellow home. Was I concerned? Sort of, but my normalcy bias kicked in, after all, the “Night Stalker” hadn’t capered in the part of the southern California area we lived in. However, one day after the massive goat-rope and evidence release caused by then San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein,(yes, that one) and her unauthorized publication and release of firearms evidence, we were all fairly certain the main suspect/s would be returning to southern California. Things started happening rather quickly as the always do in such cases, as the suspect/s devolve in their predation. One night it all came to a head.

That night, I couldn’t sleep a wink, I was awake all night and finally confided in my wife that we lived in a yellow house and those were the only houses the “Night Stalker” hit. I jumped at every raccoon, tomcat and possum climbing the fences that night. As dawn broke, I was finally able to sleep and no sooner than I fell asleep I was awakened by a call from my boss telling me the “Night Stalker” had just hit in Mission Viejo less than 1.2 miles from our home. Yeah, another yellow house, only this time, both people survived the attack and an alert neighbor got a good plate number on the car. (Yes, I was prepared for all-out war with multiple suspects should it come to that, that night).

Later the suspect was captured in East Los Angeles, when an entire neighborhood turned out and chased him down. Good for them for protecting their homes.

I was acutely aware that my “Paralysis of Fear” came from knowing how at risk my family really was, due to my “normalcy bias”. Never again did I discount early warnings. Never again did I not push out my personal perimeter of personal space to give us time and distance to respond to danger.

Two-legged predators are the most predictable of all predators there are. To understand HOW they operate and what makes them “that way” while fascinating and morbid and yes, depressing, is critical to overwhelming the rush of paralysis that comes with bare fear.

We as human beings, are indeed creatures of habit. Our subconscious does not easily allow us to adapt to new behaviors without significant conscious effort. Criminal suspects are very much creatures of habit, and often return to their original scene of their first successful caper/crime or interaction with their first “victim”.

This is the most typical way these suspect/s are captured. Yes, they do return to the scene of the crime often. Burglars, serial offenders often return to a specific area where they first had “success” in their original caper.

Remember, there are only three ways a crime or an act of violence can occur. One, there has to be a suspect/s, willing to engage in that act. Two, there has to be a “victim”, this can be a person, place and/or business. Three, finally, there has to be an opportunity, for the suspect/s and the victim to interact. Eliminate one or more of those three legs, and there will be no crime, no act of violence or, no interaction opportunity.

The last area is one we can control or mitigate the most. We can and should reduce all the “opportunity” to be a victim. Hardly any burglaries or vehicle “burgs” in your area? Good, keep on locking your vehicle up all the time. Make it hard for that opportunity to happen.

Keep your home locked up tight. Don’t leave it unlocked for “convenience”, just because, we live in a nice area, or out in the country. You’ve just significantly increased the ease of the opportunity, to be a victim.

Pepper Spray is an effective defense for people who can’t or do not wish to own firearms.

Have the means on your person to legally defend yourself, your loved ones, family and friends from violent predatory attacks. Get that training so you can respond to danger before others even recognize it. Let the “victims” react to the danger, by then it is too late. Response trumps reaction every single time.

Buy yourself the time and space, by having a hardened physical perimeter around your home, apartment or country Shangri-La. Make it obvious that there is no such thing as “casual intrusion” onto your property, OR, into your residence. This makes it far easier for you to articulate your defensive response measures to the jury pool.(civil or criminal and to investigating law enforcement)

Expand your personal “perimeter” or “bubble” of comfort. Don’t let anyone whom you did not invite into that space. It may sound impolite, but it will buy you the time and defensible space, when predation is looking for the opportunity to strike.

Finally, never assume anything. If the hair on the back of your neck is sticking up, it’s doing that for a reason. Your subconscious is trying to get your conscious mind to Pay Attention to the Warning Signs. Remember, it is good to respond, bad to react. You’ve lost the element of surprise when you have to react to any attack.

Use common sense. Don’t worry about being “polite”, save that for the place of employment. Your home is your “comfort zone”, best to keep it safe and have that perimeter WAY out there, to give you the time and distance you need.

If you are opposed to firearms, get professional grade OC/Pepper/tear gas spray combinations and have immediate access to several different methods of application. Have more than one method of high-intensity lighting you can carry on your person. Power outages happen all the time, best to reduce or eliminate that opportunity.

Just because you can, never means you should. You “forgot” you have no milk for morning cereal, so you decide to go out at oh-dark-thirty in the a.m. because you are a trained legal concealed carry firearm licensee? It is always better to reduce the opportunity for interaction, than it is to go just because you can. Who is out at that time? Cops, thugs, lowlifes, everyone else “out” at that time is usually secured inside a locked structure working; dealing with the opportunities that predators have availed themselves of.

Just makes better sense. No need to place yourself in harm’s way, just because you can. Use fear to your advantage, not the predators. No need to “fear” the predators you already know what they look for, don’t you?

Be safe, be vigilant, and be proactive. You control your opportunities.

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