The various distractions of life are what keep us from being as alert as we should be. So, as if work, family, and just getting through a busy day aren’t enough, let’s add a pandemic to the whole thing. Oh, and let’s encourage people to wear masks that, among other things, serve to hide their identity.
Now, I am not for one minute criticizing the advice that our health professionals are offering in an attempt to keep us safe from this virus. I am simply trying to point out the added stress that all of this puts on people who are smart enough to be concerned for their own safety and that of their family. It is a rough time for everyone and it is a time for each of us to heighten our alert status on many levels.
You should be aware that criminals take advantage of distractions and chaos. They often prey on people who are caught up in whatever mess and confusion is going on in their lives at the present. This distraction allows the criminal to put his plan into action without your noticing it until it is often too late. Here are a few precautions that have occurred to me while thinking about this whole historic episode in our lives.
When we have to be out and about, we are being encouraged to keep a safe distance from others. And this is a good thing for many reasons. So we should be alert for people who are violating that protective space. Is this person just not paying attention? Or is this person attempting to get close in order to put a criminal plan into action?
Regardless, you should keep an eye on them and move away if you have to. The main thing is to not just assume that this is just an honest mistake. I’m not suggesting that you go into full alert—Condition Red, damn the torpedoes, etc.—but you keep an eye on them.
Another thing that is to our benefit is the fact that there is a lot less traffic on the streets. You should pay attention to vehicles that are following you. This could be someone who has spotted you in a store parking lot and is following you home to find out where you live. Make a few extra turns to see if they stay with you. Or make a swing by the police station and see what happens. Just blowing the whole thing off and allowing the vehicle to follow you home might be a real mistake.
And, while we may not be making physical contact with our neighbors, we can certainly maintain phone contact. Strange people and vehicles in a neighborhood are definitely something to keep an eye on. If you and your neighbors aren’t already on an email or texting group to share information, now is a really good time to start one. It serves the dual purpose of heightening personal safety and health concerns for you and your friends.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that we all need to fix bayonets and prepare to repel boarders. But we definitely need to increase our awareness and be alert to what is going on around us. Don’t let these trying times be a vacation for criminals.
Editor's Note: I had a friend this week walk into a gas station with a homemade mask on (something that's been encouraged in many states due to mask shortages). The cashier instinctively panicked because she thought she was being robbed, and it created quite the scene. Everyone eventually calmed down as my friend explained the situation, but you can imagine how bad that could have been.