Just as criminals can be broken into two categories, criminals and terrorists alike tend to divide their victims into two groups: hard targets and soft targets. This concept applies to both people and places. A place can be considered a hard target when there are obvious countermeasures
in place that would deter a possible attack, such as fences, cameras, and barriers that discourage unwanted entry. People can be considered hard targets when they appear aware of their surroundings, carry themselves with confidence, and look like they could handle themselves in a fight. Much like a bank, they are displaying visible defenses against an attack. On the other hand, places that are considered soft targets have no visible signs of security. There are no locks, cameras, or fences, and admittance is open and accessible to everyone. Similarly, people are soft targets when they display none of the outward signs of awareness or preparation. They look easy to approach and ill-prepared to defend themselves. Predators prefer soft targets because they pose the least amount of danger. They carefully measure risk versus reward and will almost always take the easier path. This process of elimination and
target selection can be completed in as little as seven seconds. In that short period, a predator can accurately determine the following:
1. Their initial perception of who you are
2. The amount of risk you pose
3. Your observable value
4. Your visible defenses
These four factors, Perception, Risk, Observable Value, and Defenses, are what I refer to as the PROD. It’s essential that you become familiar with them because when it comes to a violent encounter, they answer the question, “Why me?” Ted Bundy was a serial killer in the 1970s who killed more than thirty women. Once he was finally caught, he sat for years on death row where he conducted nearly thirty hours of taped confessions. In these confessions, he laid out the types of women he targeted and the techniques he used to lure them in. At one point Bundy stated, “I can spot my victim by the tilt of her head as she walks.” Since predators target those they perceive as weak, you must become the most unappealing target you can be. This all begins with proper situational awareness. Someone who carries themselves with confidence and purpose, who appears to be alert and aware of what’s going on around them, will not be as appealing a target as someone who seems weak and oblivious. ALWAYS BE THE HARD TARGET!