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A self-defense expert who spent 30 years working in law enforcement has revealed how criminals can take just seven seconds to choose their next victim.
Seven seconds could be the length of a TikTok, the time it takes for you to retrieve some dropped food and stuff it in your mouth, or the time it takes to chug a drink while your friends count down the numbers. They're all pretty mundane activities achieved in a short amount of time, but that's not to say those same few seconds couldn't change your life or put you in danger.
Steve Kardian, who has experience working as a police officer, detective, chief investigator and FBI defensive tactics instructor, has revealed that criminals select their victims by assessing whether choosing them would lead to an increased risk of getting hurt or getting caught.
According to Kardian, it can take just seven seconds for the criminal to analyse the potential victim and decide whether they would move forward to attack or whether they will move their attention to someone else.
The seven-second rule is based on a study conducted by sociologists Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein in 1981, which involved prison inmates watching footage of members of the public walking in New York and rating the pedestrians on a scale of one to ten, from 'a very easy rip-off' to 'would avoid it, too big a situation. Too heavy.'
Victims were chosen on a variety of criteria, including the pedestrians’ nonverbal signals such as the length of their stride and whether their arms swung while walking.
In order to avoid being an easy target, Kardian advises taking 'forceful, dynamic steps that convey assertiveness and confidence', swinging your feet 'gracefully forward', walking smoothly with a swing to the arms, and keeping your chin up, spine straight and shoulders back, while staying aware of your surroundings and looking around.
The former police officer also recommended giving other members of the public 'a split-second glance' to indicate you know they are there.
"When a predator knows that you have seen him, he may look for another target because the element of surprise is lost," Kardian writes for NBC.
Though that might sound easy enough for a short period of time, Kardian said the challenge is to keep it up for 'extended periods of time', noting that when you get distracted, for example by a text on your phone, you 'turn into an easy target'.