After a Girl’s Night Out of shooting, AG & AG member Kara was excited to join her chapter members for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Although Kara concealed her range bags in her vehicle, parked close to the front in a well-lit high-traffic area of the parking lot, and did everything right to prevent the “random” occurrence of parking lot break ins, it still happened.
Kara got an alert on her phone that her truck door had been opened. She bolted out of the restaurant, but it was already too late as the thieves were gone and with them three range bags. Nothing else in the truck was disturbed, suggesting that they knew exactly what they were looking for and where to find it hidden under the back seat. The responding police officer told Kara that this was the third incident in the last few weeks of a patron who had left the range and had their vehicle broken into and range bag stolen. It was that moment she realized she had been profiled.
Most people are surprised that a parking lot break-in is not a “random” act, but a calculated action. It is unclear when Kara was profiled: when the group arrived at the range, or when they left? Did the thieves follow the main group to the restaurant and wait for all to arrive to decide which was the easiest hit? We probably will never get the answers, and the most frustrating part for Kara and the two other members’ carpooling with her was that she followed all of the best practices to prevent being the target of a crime, and yet it happened anyway.
Note: Another action they could have taken was to take their range bags inside the restaurant with them, which now many members choose to do. If that seems like a reasonable option for you, please review your local and state laws in regards to legal concealed carry of firearms into a place of business or other location.
There are some important lessons and confirmations that Kara and the other AG & AG members gained from this experience:
Lesson 1- Situational awareness never gets a vacation.
No matter if you are at the range, leaving the grocery store, watching who is driving behind you in your neighborhood… you have to constantly and consistently be aware of who is around you. Being able to gauge verbal and nonverbal cues along with the gut instinct you have about an encounter guides your decision-making process about continuing on your path or making a detour to your plan.
Lesson 2- Research your destinations.
Get more information on the community hotspots where smash and grabs are more common and choose alternate places to dine and shop.
Lesson 3- Act quickly for surveillance video.
If there is surveillance video of the smash-and-grab on your vehicle, ask for it to be collected immediately. In this case the owner of the business didn’t know how to retrieve and save the file of the incident, and by the time the detectives were able to schedule a visit two weeks had passed and the file was erased with new footage. This is a common practice in most surveillance systems. Kara learned that a man in a black hoodie driving a dark vehicle committed the crime, but there is no video evidence to identify him.
Lesson 4- Invest in a secure vehicle safe.
Vehicle Gun Vaults are sounding better and better everyday! It is an added layer to have a Console Vault or other safe storage option in your vehicle for your “car gun” or every day carry gun. Having additional options for your recreational firearms is the next step. You can properly secure all your gear and guns with custom sized vaults that are designed for cars and trucks.
Lesson 5- Keep a log of your possessions.
Knowing the contents and value of your range bag should be included in an ownership log, which is vital. To file a claim and have hope to recover your stolen firearms having serial numbers, pictures and value documented will help to ease and expedite the process with law enforcement and insurance companies.
It is important to mention that this could happen to any person who visits a gun range as well publicized events when firearms are a focus like gun shows, conventions or host hotel parking lots for major competitions, training events etc.
It is impossible to always outsmart the criminal mind, but certainly keep trying and staying vigilant!