Crime Trends

International Active Killer Attacks

International Active Killer Attacks 631 311 Greg Ellifritz

Stratfor is one of the large outfits providing intelligence and analysis of international terrorist attacks.  When digging through some old articles, I found their advice about dealing with an active killer attack while on foreign soil.


It’s exceptional advice.  Read it at the link below.



How to Counter Armed Assaults

Subway Platform Safety

Subway Platform Safety 1200 600 Greg Ellifritz

Living in a city without a subway, I had no idea about the crime trend where people push victims onto the tracks.


Read about this kind of crime and how to prevent it in the article below.  And be careful on subway platforms.


My Somewhat Freakish Travel Habit Might Just Save Your Life


Fighting Against the Odds

Fighting Against the Odds 620 465 Greg Ellifritz

Read the story below:

In Kenya, Al-Shabab gunmen slay 28 bus passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed


A band of 20 Islamist terrorists armed with automatic weapons tried to stop a bus filled with local citizens in Kenya. The driver heroically kept driving. The terrorists raked the bus with gunfire before bringing it to a stop by using an RPG round.


Terrorists quickly take control and separate Muslims from non-Muslim passengers. The non-Muslims were ordered to lie face down on the road as they are systematically shot in the back of the head.


This story hit me pretty hard. I’ve spent a lot of time on buses just like this one riding through rural Kenya.   It could have very easily been me on that bus.  This is one of the few “unwinnable” scenarios that everyone will occasionally face. You are unarmed and have no friends on the bus with you.  Have you considered what you might do?


I find it curious here that no one tried to fight or escape. Odds of winning are non-existent when facing 20-1 superior numbers, but why not try? You know you will be killed if you comply. There is a small chance you will get away if you fight or flee. The choice is pretty clear to me.


I’m going to use my folding knife to get one of terrorists’ guns and I’m going to take as many out as possible. I’ll probably be killed, but I’ll most certainly be killed otherwise. Who knows, with dumb luck it’s possible that I survive.


In any event, every terrorist I kill will reduce the chance that innocent people will be targeted in the future. My attack may also provide the distraction needed for a couple other  people on the bus to escape.  If more people fought back, these terrorists might start thinking twice about targeting civilian passenger vehicles.  If I’m going to die anyway, I may as well make my death as meaningful as possible.  Laying in the dirt as I get shot in the back doesn’t accomplish that goal.


I can’t tell you what to do if you are thrust into a situation like this.  I can tell you that there are a few times when compliance has a very poor record for ensuring your safety.  In my study of events like this terrorist attack, I’ve noticed some very clear trends.  If the terrorists/criminals start doing any of the following, your chances of survival are extremely low:

1) They start killing hostages

2) They order people to the ground

3) They start searching hostages for weapons

4) They start restraining people

5) They move people to another location


Those are my “go” signals.  I may fight.  I may flee.  I may make up some other strategy on the fly.  But when those things start happening, I know I won’t meekly comply.


Unfortunately, no one on the bus thought like I do. Have you considered what you might do in a similar “against all odds” situation?  You should.  Because if you don’t develop your “go triggers” in advance, you’ll end up just like all the poor folks on that bus in Kenya.



Kenyan security forces and others gather around the scene on an attack on a bus about 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside the town of Mandera, near the Somali border in northeastern Kenya, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, attacked the bus in northern Kenya at dawn on Saturday, singling out and killing 28 passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed and were assumed to be non-Muslims, Kenyan police said. (AP Photo)

Surviving in Captivity

Surviving in Captivity 300 199 Greg Ellifritz

Some thoughts on surviving captivity. This article is primarily written in the context of becoming an enemy prisoner or POW. The tactics described, however, are also useful in shorter term criminal abductions or hostage situations in foreign countries.


OK, You Survived…but What If You Have Been Captured?


On a similar topic, This is a good primer (with some quick videos) about escaping from various types of restraints.  Check them both out.


How to Get Out of Handcuffs and Other Restraints




Dealing with Disruptive Airline Passengers

Dealing with Disruptive Airline Passengers 664 381 Greg Ellifritz

Air travel is starting to increase from the nadir of the Covid-19 pandemic.  As more and more people feel comfortably flying, I’ve seen a huge number of incidents where violent or erratic passengers have disrupted airline flights in the past few weeks.  Before reading further, check out the articles below to get an understanding of what you might face on your next flight.


JetBlue Bans Passenger Who Repeatedly Hurled N-Words

Brawl Breaks Out In The Aisle Of Puerto Rico Flight As Police Board To Tase The Aggressor


American Airlines Passenger Sneaks Into First Class To Promote Her YouTube Channel, Kicked Off Flight


Woman Strips on Plane, Forces Flight to Divert


Two British Rappers Brawl On Emirates Flight While Passengers Dodge Their Blows


Woman Pulled Off A Flight For Drunkenly Arguing… Moroccan Politics?


If you were on one of the flights described above, would you intervene?  What would you do?  The correct answer in almost all these situations is “Sit quietly in your seat.  Protect yourself, but don’t aggressively engage the offender unless he/she is likely to cause the plane to crash.”


Since 9/11, folks have been pretty alert and quick to respond to violence on a plane.  That’s a good thing.  The problem we have is now the exact opposite of the one that we had before 9/11.  Hijackers aren’t likely to use physical methods to take over planes anymore.  Passengers are prepared to act and would slaughter them if they did so.  I doubt there will be another 9/11 style hijacking in the United States in our lifetime.


Even though it’s doubtful to be a hijacking, when passengers start getting violent on a plane, it becomes extremely problematic.  It could be a hijacker. It could be a drunk or mental.  Or it could be some combination of all these conditions.  No matter what the cause, violence on a plane puts all the passengers in danger.  Here’s what you should be thinking about if you encounter a violent airline passenger:


The person is probably drunk, someone on drugs, or a mentally ill passenger.   In fact, it is MOST LIKELY to be one of these categories.  Lots of people are just plain crazy.  Others get nervous before flying and drink too much or take sedatives and sleep aids which cause irrational behavior.  If you encounter one of these folks, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t respond, it just means that your response need not automatically default to breaking necks, crushing throats, and killing people until you are certain the plane is actually being hijacked.


Having visited more than 50 countries, I fly a lot.  There has only been one occasion where I have almost had to take out a crazy passenger.


I was on an international flight and was flying up front in business class.  A passenger (thin American guy who was about 25 years old) in coach was incensed that the seats didn’t have electric charging ports or outlets (neither did the business class seats).  It was an older plane that hadn’t been updated.  This passenger started screaming at the flight attendant when he learned there was no way for him to charge his phone.


He burst past me into the galley and tried to plug his phone in one of the electrical outlets there.  The flight attendants told him that he couldn’t use the galley electrical outlets.  He started screaming, threatening to kill the flight attendants.  They ushered him back to his seat.  As they walked away, he screamed “I’ll just break down the cockpit door and I’ll charge my phone up there!”


The flight attendants were scared to death.  As I was a big dude who was seated close to the cockpit door, they asked for my help to protect the cockpit if the crazy guy tried to break in.  My plan was not to get involved with the irate dude.  “Not my people.  Not my problem.


But it suddenly became my problem when home boy decided to break into the cockpit.  I didn’t fancy dying in a plane crash.  Even worse was the idea that an armed pilot would shoot this dude with my row one seat as his backstop.  I agreed to help protect the cockpit.


I asked the flight attendant for a seat belt extension.  She gave me one and asked why I wanted it.  I replied “That’s what I’m going to use to smash the guy’s fucking skull when he’s busy trying to get in the cockpit.”  Both flight attendants smiled widely upon hearing my plan.


Expedient TSA approved impact weapon


I had my own defensive tools, but why bloody my flashlight on his face when I could use a weapon provided by the airline?


I fastened the buckle together and adjusted the length on the seat belt extension.  That gave me a nice foot-long flexible impact weapon with the buckle serving as a swinging weight on the end of a short length of seat belt.  I stood up in the aisle and asked the flight attendant to point out exactly where the man was sitting.


I caught his gaze and gave him what my girlfriend at the time called my “crazy cop eyes.”  It was the intimidating look I saved as the last step before throwing down with the violent criminals I arrested at work.  It usually works to convince people that it wouldn’t be a good idea to continue their current course of action.


It worked again in this case.  When we made eye contact, the crazy man man quickly looked away and never got out of his seat again until the plane landed.  I didn’t have to bash his brains out with the seat belt extension.


In my mental after action analysis, I realized that I could have de-escalated the whole situation if I had only been carrying a cheap power bank portable charger.  I could have loaned it to the crazy man so that he could obsessively charge his phone and that would have avoided all sorts of potential hassles if the guy became more violent.  Now I never fly without one.


Never leave home without it


There are a lot of really mentally ill individuals on this planet.  Some of them will be on your flight.  It’s best to have a plan to manage them.


All air flight crew carry flex cuffs. They don’t use them often and may forget they have them. If you have wrestled someone down, ask one of the flight crew to bring you the cuffs. That’s much easier than sitting on the dude for 40 minutes until the plane can land. You should probably know how to work flex cuffs in advance before relying on this tactic (hint, they are just like thick zip ties).


You should also know how to choke a person unconscious to get them under control if other means don’t work.  Hire a good judo or jujitsu instructor for a couple of hours to teach you some chokes.


This might be a dry run. There may be other unidentified accomplices aboard just watching to evaluate the response of the passengers and crew so that they can counter the responses in a future attack. After the immediate crisis is over, pay attention to who may be paying too much attention to what is going on. Try to watch to see who the “attacker” speaks to or makes eye contact with before and during the event.  Make sure you relay this information to the responding police officers when the plane lands.


It may also be a diversion. Always look for additional threats. This guy’s role may be to cause a problem to bring all of the resistance-minded passengers to one area of the plane so that an accomplice has additional time to break into the cockpit. The accomplice(s) may also be watching the resisters so that they can take them out before the hijacking occurs.


One other possibility is that they use a ploy like this to see if there are any air marshals or armed cops on board. The air marshals and/or cops are likely to intervene, making them vulnerable to a surprise attack as they take action against the unruly passenger. If you notice an air marshal or cop getting involved (and you are not already engaged in the act of ass whipping), watch the cop’s back as he takes care of the bad guy.


Keep these thoughts in mind the next time you fly.   Train hard and travel safely.


Evaluating Physical Threat Cues

Evaluating Physical Threat Cues 960 696 Greg Ellifritz

The author of this article provides 20 tips to better physically size up an opponent when threatened.

I’m not sure all of them are 100% valid, but many of his points match my experiences.  The “high walker” that he talks about may or may not be a good striker.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that A LOT of really good wrestlers walk like that.  I wouldn’t automatically discount the “high walker” as being ineffective in a fight.

If you like the author’s writing style, you can check out his unique books on


‘Sizing Up a Stranger’ 20 Physicality Cues as to the Abilities of the Unknown Aggressor



Taxi Safety

Taxi Safety 225 300 Greg Ellifritz

I spend a lot of time traveling in taxi cabs through the various third world countries I visit.  So much time, in fact, that I’ve had a chance to really analyze some “best practices” for utilizing public transportation.  Fortunately, my analysis and practices have paid off.  I’ve had a couple of close calls over the years, but most of my cab rides have been rather uneventful.


Have you ever thought about what you could do to make your cab ride safer?


Overall, it is relatively rare to encounter cases where passengers have been victimized by their cab drivers.  It does, however,  occasionally happen. What can you do to prevent it?


– The key thing any passenger can do to best insure her safety is to trust her instincts.  If something doesn’t seem right, if the cabbie isn’t taking the correct route, or if you get a bad feeling about the situation, get out!  Get out at a stoplight if you have to.  Tell the driver that you forgot something at the location where he picked you up and you would like to return.  Do whatever you can do to get out of that cab.


– Never put all of your luggage in the trunk of the taxi.  Take your carry-on bag, purse or backpack into the passenger compartment with you.  If you have to flee the cab in a hurry, you will at least be able to keep control of some of your possessions and valuables.


– Pay attention to the route.  If you have a smartphone with GPS, use it to find the best way to get to your location.  If the driver isn’t taking that route, ask him for an explanation.


– You can also use your phone or camera to take a photo of the cab driver’s license plates or credentials.  Send the picture to a friend or call a friend as you are getting into the cab, giving her the name of your driver and the cab number.  If your driver is a criminal, he’s less likely to victimize you if he thinks he’s likely to get caught.


– If you are alone, sit in the rear seat on the opposite side from the driver.  If you have to escape from the driver, you will have a slight head start (or a little cover) as the driver has to run around the car to reach you.


– And most importantly, don’t travel by yourself if you are impaired from using drugs or alcohol!  The victim in the story above appeared to be intoxicated.  I’m sure her perceived intoxication factored into the risk vs. reward calculation in the rapist’s head.  Drunk people don’t remember things as well.  They also react slower.  People using drugs don’t like to call the police out of fear of getting arrested.  Any of these factors decrease the chance that the criminal will be hurt or prosecuted.


If you are inebriated, ride with a sober friend.


Once you get outside of the United States, cab rides expose you to much more danger.  Tourists use taxis and tourists have money.  That’s all the information some criminals need in order to make some cash.  You really have to be on your toes when you are taking a taxi in a third world country.  Here are a few of the tips I have learned in my travels over the years:


-Most taxi drivers will not speak English.  When you arrive at your hotel or hostel, pick up a couple of the hotel’s business cards from the front desk.  The cards will have the hotel’s address and phone number on them.  If you get a taxi driver who can’t understand you, hand him the business card and he’ll be able to get you home.  Taking a photo of the front of your hotel or the street signs at the nearest intersection and showing it to your driver may also communicate where you need to go if you can’t speak the language.


Not all taxis are yellow…these red cars are all taxis in Lima Peru


– Taxi drivers don’t make much money and will often try to scam travelers.  Ask your hotel desk clerk or concierge what a local taxi fare to your destination should be.  Most third world taxis don’t have meters.  Negotiate the fare BEFORE getting in the cab.   A big scam in many countries (I experienced it in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Thailand) goes this way: You and your friends agree on a price (let’s say $5.00) and get everyone into the cab.  When you reach your destination, you hand the driver the $5.00 bill and he says “No!  $5.00 PER PERSON!”  Make sure you clarify in advance if the price agreed upon is per person or per trip.


– If you speak any of the local language at all, speak it as soon as you get in the cab.  Cabbies are less likely to overcharge or scam you if they think you may be a resident or familiar with the city.  Speaking even just a little of the local language will make the taxi driver think you may know what’s going on and keep him honest.  You may also consider taking a photo of the cab driver’s licensing paperwork in an obvious manner as soon as you get into the car.


In a horse-drawn taxi in Luxor, Egypt


– Never let anyone else get in the taxi with you.  Sometimes drivers will stop and allow other passengers to ride in the cab to make some more money.  Usually it’s legit, but occasionally those “other passengers” are robbers who are in collusion with the driver.  If someone else gets in the taxi, get out and don’t pay the driver.  Tell him that you are going to call the police.


After being in this Thai taxi for a couple of hours, I needed a massage!

– Make sure your doors are locked and your windows are up.  Thieves on foot, bicycle, or motorbike drive between lanes of traffic stopped at intersections and will reach in through open windows to steal purses, wallets, shopping bags or cameras.  They get away easily when the taxi cab is caught up in gridlocked traffic.  Make sure you don’t have any valuables visible in your hand or lap.  Some criminals on foot will break your window, reach in, and steal your stuff while the taxi is stuck in traffic.


– Make sure you have small bills available to pay the driver.  Many taxi drivers will refuse to provide change for large bills claiming that they don’t have any smaller bills.  That forces you to stop someplace else to make change or just give him a very large tip.  The driver is betting that your   frustration and impatience will alter your judgement.  He thinks you’ll just give him the large bill without expecting any change back.  Don’t play that game.


Tuk-Tuk Taxi in Bangkok, Thailand


Many foreign tourists rely on taxi drivers to provide them with connections to drugs or prostitutes.  Even if such activity is legal in the country you are visiting, avoid using your taxi driver as a connection.  Drivers are often in collusion with either the police or the criminals.  They will offer to sell you drugs and then tell the cops as soon as the transaction is completed.  The cops give the drugs back to the driver and you have to pay a bribe to stay out of jail.


The drivers may also use your desire for  drugs and prostitutes as an excuse to take you to a more seedy part of town where they can set you up for an ambush.  The call their robber friends and arrange a location, pull up on the street and get out of the car without saying a word.  The next thing you know there is a gun stuck in your face and a demand for money.  The driver just set you up.


It’s always safer to stay away from whores and dope in foreign countries.  It’s especially important to stay away from taxi drivers who offer to procure whores and dope.



Latin American Drug Cartels

Latin American Drug Cartels 360 121 Greg Ellifritz

An in-depth analysis of the history and structure of Latin American drug cartels.  This is important for American cops and anyone interested in drug use in the USA.  The Mexican Cartels supply the vast majority of heroin and a significant amount of marijuana used in the states.


The Story of Drug Trafficking in Latin America

Kidnapping Risks by Country

Kidnapping Risks by Country 620 350 Greg Ellifritz

A listing of the places where travelers are most likely to be kidnapped and the techniques used in each of those countries.  I don’t know what it says about my travel habits, but I’ve visited five of the eight countries he profiled (some multiple times) and never had any issues.



The Places You’re Most Likely to Get Kidnapped

Door Wedges

Door Wedges 300 296 Greg Ellifritz

Grant’s advice about travel safety is spot on.  I carry a rubber door stop like this often when I travel.  It’s cheap insurance for about $5.00.  If you want an even better one, check out the “Wedge-It.”  It works for extra security (like your bedroom door) at home as well.


Staying safe while traveling, Part 5: some more tools to help you stay safe on the road!