Some years ago two residents in our neighborhood were needlessly killed when they made wrong moves in dealing with their robbers.

One was a father in our baby-sitting pool. A robber came to the door of his apartment, but fled when his young daughter opened the door, saw a gun and screamed. The father chased the robber who shot and killed him.

A Columbia graduate student made a sarcastic remark to a robber after he had been held up — “You missed a dollar.” The robber turned back and shot and killed him.

It may seem odd, but when one is being robbed, one as victim must take charge of the situation and keep things cool. No amount of money is worth one’s life. One noted woman scholar made a sarcastic remark to her robber as he was fleeing. He turned back and raped her. She told us this at an academic meeting as a warning as to how NOT to cope.

I realize that few of us are not startled when someone is holding one up. I have been there and felt the shock. One of the mildest incidents was a pickpocket on a crowded bus who was trying to pry loose my billfold. I thought about it for a moment. Took his measure and said to be heard that a pickpocket was working the bus. He got off at the next stop. I had not tried to identify him personally or stop him. Once gone, he was no risk to any and was probably not armed with more than a knife, but could have used such to escape if trapped.

I pass along this information in hopes that it may save a life or two of some who have read it or to whom they have passed along this bit of street wisdom.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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