Caught off guard

A neighbor of mine decided to drive to one of our local doughnut shops the other day. The older gentleman is just a bit mobility challenged so it takes him a few moments to get out of the car. As he was doing so a man rushed up to him, sprayed him with pepper spray, took his car and drove off.

This is not a scenario I have considered. I may have used the same doughnut shop and sometimes after dark. And normally I look around for potential predators before unlocking the door. If I am getting out of the car the window is never down so rushing the car would be a dead give away.

Still getting pepper sprayed wasn’t high on my list of things to defend against.

What do others recommend?


I am unsure about his use of situational awarness. Could he have seen someone looking suspect? If it is a good OC then you are pretty well out of the fight. You can’t see if the person is armed so just roll away and wave goodbye to your car. You can always get another one.

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I HATE the fact predators target our Senior Citizens. I hate the ‘fact’ some say it is the nature of predators to have to target those weaker and less likely than themselves to be able to muster a defense that could possibly injure them and prevent them from doing their thing: being a predator.

I would be happy to be involved in a law enforcement team setting up sting operations to “snare” these low level beasts from the food chain. Sadly, I recognize imprisoning most of them would simply better prepare them to become more successful creatures and possibly teach them to hunt in packs. Given that, I have no time to become my ‘brothers keeper’ when that “brother” is demonstrating the worst of us and my honest reaction is to remove them from civilization and isolate their existence. Again, too bad that won’t work either.

I guess we have to come back to what we have. Arm your friend, make him proficient in situational awareness and’/or give him someone to work with as a team. And let the hunter become the hunted. For the rest of us. Do the best we can, and in the immediacy of being pepper sprayed; in that moment, what the unsub is capable of is unknown, his intention is unknown up on to possible lethal results. In the totality of the circumstance, a reasonable person would feel they are quite likely at risk of injury unto their life. Hopefully I’d still have the ability to see my opponent at some level and ensure I was looking at the felon and a safe arc behind him/her/it.


There were time when I went to places like the store or a doughnut shop where people are entering and exiting that I am not as leery of others as I might be. Still I am not happy about viewing everyone as a possible attacker. Yes I know that is the world we live in but not the one I remember growing up in.

Still my neighbor is not going to be a candidate for armed defense in my opinion. It just made me aware that as we age we become prey to an element of society that is very dark.

I can teach him places to avoid and when to ask for others to go with him. It just shouldn’t be this way. I am not sure how to defend against this kind of attack. I have experienced pepper spray and I know I have very few seconds to react. I am just glad all he lost was his car.


Thanks, @Robert5, I appreciate it. I know I remember places which were just always there and they were GOOD places to be, go to, and see others doing the same things we did. I know also, in my parent’s last years before they became dependent on us helping them… There were places they went, situations they shouldn’t have. Risks taken because they didn’t know the town, the scenarios playing out around them due to history and location. … All because I couldn’t be there to help them.

They moved out with me to be with me where I had to move to work. And they were already at the point Dad was caring for Mom and her developmentally disabled son who was a senior citizen himself. He’d been living a silent scream back home. I just can’t imagine what I asked of them, now looking back at it all. I guess we got lucky because, in the end, it was just the action of end of life events which caused us pain and anguish.

Anyway. Good luck to you and yours. May we both live to be happy old-timers.


I don’t get it. Was his car running? Left his keys in the car?

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My impression, not having been there to witness the crime, was he had parked, turned off the car, opened the door, and with keys in hand attempted to exit the car. Suspect ran up to him as he tried to stand and close the door. He was then pepper sprayed and pushed to the ground while having his keys snatched. The car was recovered the next day or so with some body damage. I haven’t heard if the suspect was captured yet. But things could have gone south quickly I believe.

Like I said I am not sure how to train for such and attack.

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You can’t beat good situational awareness. Don’t just do your looking around after you are already parked and ready to get out.

Be observant of the whole scene as you approach your destination and make note of possible threats, places where ambushes are likely to occur, ways to avoid them and possible avenues of escape/egress.

If you don’t start evaluating the scene until you’re already stopped you’ll miss important details and may very well find yourself in a situation you cannot easily or safely get out of.

No you don’t need to be paranoid, just keep your brain engaged and be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep your options open to the greatest extent possible.


Maybe not paranoid but a bit more cautious than I have been. An example may be this very doughnut shop. It used to be one of my favorite ones but I realized it had security problems. It sit at the end of a building so that if you come into the parking lot from the west you can’t see around the corner from where you normally park. A criminal hiding around the corner would be withing 15 to 20 feet from you before you saw them. If they come out of the doughnut shop they are within 10 feet of where you might park a car.

My choices are to come from the east to get a view down the side of the building and to park back from the store were I have a better view of all directions.

Today however I decided on another option and went to a different doughnut shop that was fr more open to where I parked. It also had people working at a car wash about fifty feet away. I could see customers watching me from the store front and no one was walking closer than the ones at the car wash. I was able to assess parking before I got to the store. I was able to exit the car and get a good view of my surroundings, and I was able to have a clear view of my car and surroundings as I left to head for home. I don’t often stop on the way home to get doughnuts but it was sort of a dry run to test a theory.


Yep and now your brain is engaged.

We’re all familiar with “defensive driving” which basically just means being aware of what is going on around you and always leaving yourself options/escape routs.

I use the same principles and call it “defensive living”.

There’s not a thing wrong for example with making a pass through a parking lot just to get the full picture in your head before picking a parking spot.

Yest there might be a quick, easily accessible parking spot in an Isolated place that makes you more of a target which is probably why it’s open.

Seek the high traffic, well lit areas, where there are lots of potential witnesses should something happen. Odds are the bad guys are going to be doing the same thing in reverse. They are not looking for a fight, they are not looking for a chance to get caught, they look for quick strikes and a way to get away clean.

You can extend these principles far beyond to parking lot and apply them everywhere you go.


As everyone has chanted, it starts with situational awareness. And I know some will disagree with me, but as part of law enforcement training, I have been sprayed with pepper and I have been Tased multiple times. These have been required in LE training because you need to know what happens when you deploy these tools and to know what happens if they are used against you. For both pepper spray and a Taser, my response would be to utilize deadly force to prevent being incapacitated. If you get tased, you are at the mercy of the assailant and your weapon(s) are now subject to being taken from you and you have no muscle control to stop it. If peppered, while you have muscle control, you are just as likely to be incapacitated to the point where you can be attacked and disarmed. Pepper and Tasers are not “deadly weapons” but they are very real potential deadly force encounters.


Good point, @MikeBKY. They definitely are potentially deadly, especially to the elderly who may have heart issues already.

Situational awareness may have helped your neighbor, @Robert5, but there are no guarantees. I’m glad he’s OK and was able to come home and tell you about it. So while it’s frustrating (enraging even), he was able to come home. After everything is said and done, isn’t that the goal of self-defense?

He’s going to have to deal with insurance and police for the reports, but he’s alive and able to do that.

So while he may not have had many tools, he did the right thing and is safe. Situational awareness would be the training I would suggest for him.


I will be 73 in a few days and started carrying daily about 10 years ago. I realized that older people and the elderly are easy targets for the bad guys and I did not want to be one of them. I got a firearm that was easy for me to handle, got the training, got the cary permit, and go to the range to practice several times a week.

What I didn’t realize util I joined USCCA and spent some time on this forum is how critically important situational awareness is and how important it is to plan ahead and avoid confrontations.

Thanks to all in the community for your wisdom and advise.


Yes I am glad he wasn’t more hurt physically than he was. Still I hurt for his psychological injuries. I now think he may fall into a fear of going out by himself. It angers me to see someone just trying to live a normal life accosted by predators.


Update on my neighbor. The older man talked with me at length about the car jacking that he went through. The police had arrested the suspect after he wrecked the vehicle. It turns out it was a young kid with an extensive record. Five counts of grand theft auto. I don’t know how many were convictions. This time however it is a more serious count called car jacking. The old guy seems to have put up a fight and had the kid down when he was pepper sprayed. The cops and the D A considers it a more serious case of car jacking The kid is being held in Jail awaiting trial. The old guy looks pretty good considering he was rolling around on the pavement with a young man.

This is now a question of what would I have done? Situational awareness may have kept me out of trouble but if I were attacked would I have responded with force right up front?


@Robert5 it’s an interesting question… it’s my nature to fight for what’s mine. It is my judgement that things can be replaced and are not worth an injury or dying over. It is both my nature and my training to choose flee or fight if my safety and wellbeing is threatened. Since my run fu is degrading as I get older, flee is becoming less effective.

I think that my choice really would depend on what I thought was being threatened in the moment… my property? My life?


When I was in Phillie a few years back, I was taking a walk and being from Brooklyn originally, my eyes were looking. I noticed two guys sitting, looked at me, then at each other, then back at me, and stood up. Knowing this was the beginning of something not too good, I real quick decided to let them know I caught them. As I got even with the first guy, I did a 90 degree turn, looked him square in the face and asked him “hows it going?” Startled the crap out out of him, as he knew he was caught. At that point, my hand was on my 45, and he said " okay, everythings fine, bro.
I said “great,Let’s keep it that way.” I walked away, glancing back a lot. On my return trip, all I got was a little wave from them. I think at this point they knew better. All my growing up training paid off.


So my wife needs to renew her CPL but because of covid 19 she won’t be able to. She was wondering if anyone in Michigan know if they will extend the renewal date like S.O.S. office ect. For ppl in this situation or…will she have to go through training over again?


Doesn’t the People’s Republic of Michigan have an online renewal option? Or mail-in?


They do have a on line renewal option in my state of Michigan. Just to clarify - Michigan
has changed greatly since I left. Kind of like Virginia. Lived in Va. for 40 years, now I
do not even recognize Va. after all of the sinful laws that have been passed. Glad I
am now in Florida, can only hope things don’t go down the tube here… :sunglasses:

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