I recently read the article linked below and it got me think of “stoppers.”
“According to police, a woman was leaving her home with her 11-year old son just before 6 a.m. on March 30. She was driving east on 420th St E and as she reached the intersection with Harts Lake Valley Rd E she noticed several sand bags and a box blocking the roadway.
When the woman exited her vehicle to move the box and one of the sandbags, police say, an unknown person came up behind her, placed a burlap bag over her head, and bearhugged her. The woman was able to break free after fighting back.”
In an ambush prevention class I once took, the instructor spent a long time discussing what he called “stoppers”. Stoppers can be anything placed along your path that is unusual enough that it draws your attention or causes you to physically stop your movement. Enemy soldiers place items on the battlefield that cause troop movements to stop for investigation. When the troops stop, the enemy triggers the pre-planned ambush.
The class instructor used a very simple example to illustrate the point. He asked the class a question:
“What would you do if you were driving home from work and as you pulled into your driveway, you noticed one or more trash cans moved into a position that blocked your garage door?”
The majority of the class said that they would stop their car in the driveway, get out of the car and move the cans before pulling into the garage. It would be a predictable action that most people would take. The criminal preys on your predictability. If someone was trying to ambush you, they could merely set up in a hidden position and shoot you as you got out of the car. The trash can was the stopper.
In the article above, the sandbags and box placed in the middle of the road were “stoppers” that facilitated the attempted kidnapping.
Want some more examples? Read this article.
In this case, a young girl wearing nothing but shorts and a bikini top stands shivering in the roadway at night. She appeared to be in need of assistance and flagged down a passing car. When the driver stopped to see if the girl was OK, the girl’s male accomplice put a gun to the driver’s head and stole her car.
Instead of the stopper being an object on the road, in this incident, the half-naked woman was the stopper. She appeared to be in trouble and caused the driver to stop the car to help. Then, like a precision military ambush, the male robber attacked.
Let’s talk about one more example. What would you do if you found what looks like a $100 bill on the street or underneath your parked car’s windshield wiper?
Fake bill reports like the story above have been reported for at least a decade. Criminals use the bait as a stopper to facilitate anything from kidnapping, to car theft, to some type of scam. This stopper is used regularly all around the world because it gets almost everyone’s attention and causes them to investigate in a very predictable manner.
Take a few minutes to think about potential stoppers in your own life. Recognize the fact that you are vulnerable to an ambush attack whenever you act on a “stopper” of any type. Don’t stop moving and continually scan for additional threats if you are ever stopped by something unusual.