Untouchability 101

Why Give a Stalker an Even Break?

When you write to Paxton Quigley at 9903 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300, do you really think she lives there? Each year several characters seem to think so. They show up with proposals, propositions and possibly darker purposes - only to find out it's a mailbox franchise.

Paxton's driver's license lists the same mailbox. She has been protecting herself with this strategy since 1986 although at the time it was not legal. So have thousands of smart women who followed her example. Cases like following one showed how right they were:

In 1989 an obsessed fan of TV-sitcom star Rebecca Schaeffer went to a private investigator asking him to get her address from the California DMV. Minutes later the PI had it on his computer screen. An hour slater the fan broke into Ms Schaeffer's house and killed her.

Paxton's recommended address-concealment strategy became legal in 1990 when the California Vehicle Code was amended to allow car owners a non-residential "buffer" address.

Look, only a dozen people really need to know where you actually live, whether you are in the public eye or not. Why give a stalker an even break?

The Rules of Disengagement

Just as soldiers observe "Rules of Engagement" on how to seek out the enemy and what to do when they find him, women who want to live powerfully, securely and free of fear today and in the 21st century need to follow these "Rules of Disengagement" . To a greater degree than you think, the decision whether or not your life will be serenely untouched by crime is in your own hands.

The First Rule of Disengagement is to deny them this information. Instead of being rich and famous, you want to be rich and unknown.

To cause you harm, criminals have to be able to get close to you, your property or your information. They have to know where you live and if you live alone, when you're home and when not, where you park, where you jog or walk the dog, where you bank, which credit cards you use, and so on.

The Second Rule of Disengagement is to deny them proximity, not to let them get close. The Second Rule is automatically handled if you have followed the First Rule: They can't break into your home while you're in the shower if they don't know where you live.

The Third Rule is to give yourself the defense assets - the hardware and the know-how - to repel those predators who slip through and do come close.

The First Rule - " No Info"

How do you follow the First Rule, the one about making your information inaccessible. It makes my skin crawl when I hear a woman give out the information that she is -

"Cindy Cooper, 361 Linden Avenue, 2nd Floor, Apt. 23"

This information should not be put out into the world, neither on envelopes mailed to you or by you, nor on your business cards, credit applications, nor should it be found in your handbag, on your checks or on your driver's license.

You need to present an untouchable, stainless façade to the world. Your full name and home address is nobody's business except trusted friends who you would permit to visit you.

Rent a box at a mail drop franchise such as Mailboxes Etc. and list the box number as a "suite number." Don't use your full first name. Rarely is there a legitimate reasons for any person or firm to know your gender. Don't use a single initial either, use double initials. Why double initials? It's more guy-like. Single initials are so obviously women...

Now you are "C.K. Cooper." Your address is "310 Center Ave., Ste. 210." It's a mail box! Your actual home address should not be printed anywhere. Use your mail drop address and pick up your mail.

Don't put your name on your actual physical mail box either. The one where your house or apartment is, you know. Matter of fact, now you don't even need a mail box outside your house or apartment...

Never discard any mail with your name on it in any public trash can. Remember that your trash can is a public trash can.

You never know who's seeing your checkbook and your checks. The rich and the famous never give personal information on their checks. Nor do the smart and stainless.

The Second Rule - " No Proximity"

You are now C.K. Cooper, a person of unknown gender. Someone following a trail to your address at "310 Center Ave., Ste. 210" finds only a mailbox door. Now clean up all the other information you have put out in days gone by.

Send everyone you do business with (bank, mail order, magazine subscriptions, credit cards, DMV, etc.) a proper change-of-address notice immediately.

Use your new mailing address on all your correspondence, all credit cards, even your driver's license.

Make sure that nowhere in the world is there a single piece of paper with your full name and real address on it floating around - to invite a fanatical admirer or tempt a criminal of opportunity.

We've heard idiotic answering machine messages, in a female voice, along the lines of "Hello, I'll be in the Hamptons all weekend but I'll be back Sunday night around six. Please leave a message..." This tells any random predators (1) that they are dealing with someone not very smart, (2) how much time they have to clean out the apartment, and (3) that the guest of honor will show up at six for the Sunday night gang bang.

The right answering machine messages are "We're not here right now..." or "We can't come to the phone right now..." This gives the impression that you may or may not be home, and that if you are home you aren't home alone. Female voice is OK.

The Third Rule - " Good Defense"

It's been said about self-defense that more than half of what you learn is preventive. Learn it well and apply it consistently, and chances are you'll never have to use the other half.

When you buy your next car give some preference to a sports-utility vehicle. You sit high in them, making the approach harder for a carjacker. Also, if you have to ram your way out of a carjacking, "sports utes" jump curbs better.

Drive with the doors locked. Park with the doors unlocked. Because your car isn't a safe place to keep anything valuable anyway, you might as well park it unlocked. It keeps your locks from being wrecked or your windows smashed. Open the glove compartment as a message to passers-by "...look, there's nothing stealable here!" Same strategy as stores who keep their cash register drawers open overnight.

In the car, turn the inside dome light switch to a position so theinside light is always off. Make sure it doesn't come on when you open the door. Why? At night, you don't want to be illuminated while getting in and out of your car. On top of it, it would cause you to have zero night vision, while any onlooker from the dark can see you clearly.

Be alert and aware. You have to be fully conscious to survive. If you've ever watched Wild Kingdom, you know that the lion doesn't just make a beeline for the nearest antelope to attack it. Instead the predator first selects a victim that isn't alert, tries to get it alone, and tries to sneak up close enough to pounce.

Remember that 90 percent of our communication with other people is body language. Serial killer Ted Bundy stated that he selected his targets based on whether they were alert and aware of their environment.

If they were, he would look for someone else.

Live long and prosper!