Criminal Mindset – Make Yourself Harder to Kill

It might be cheesy to open an article up with a quote from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, but it applies so well; if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. Today we are going to talk about knowing yourself through the lens of your enemy. The enemy being criminals. Using the criminal mindset to critically analyze your daily life is an excellent way to spot weaknesses and make corrections. 

Adopting the Criminal Mindset 

Seeing things through the eyes of a criminal takes some practice. Most of us don’t sit around considering how exactly we are going to rob a little old lady walking through a parking lot. However, Mr. Mugger, he does. He’s also plotting how he can take advantage of you. Criminals are predators, and unlike that badass alien who hunts commandos, a predator is not a badass. They are, however, perfectly okay using a toolset that you aren’t though, violence.

Predators look for weaker prey; by definition, they are “a person or group that ruthlessly exploits others.” To use the criminal mindset, you have to explore a darker element of the human mind. Feeling disturbed by this is natural. When using the criminal lens, you should think about who you could exploit at that moment. Who is the easiest person for me to get something from? This is the toolset that they are comfortable using while you are not.

Bad guys aren’t typically looking for a fight; they are looking for a quick score. When you take the time to adopt the criminal mindset, you should do it to observe the world around you and to examine yourself, your family, and your home. 

Examine Your Daily Behaviors 

If you look at your habits using the criminal mindset, you need to ask yourself a question. How easy am I to exploit? If you had to target yourself, how would you do it? Start with that question in mind and examine it along the way. 

If you wanted to take advantage of you for gain, could you? How easily?

I played this same theory game myself. I wake up and workout. Am I packing a gun? No, not always. Sometimes I get lazy. I often have my headphones blaring away. I kill my own situational awareness to listen to Joe Rogan’s chat with Post Malone. If I had to come after myself, it would be while I worked out. I’m tired, more likely unarmed, and limiting my senses. The realization of this gave me a problem to fix. 

Take note of your habits, including where you park in public, how you drive, and how often your smartphone captures your attention. 

Examine yourself with a criminal mindset throughout the day and see your vulnerabilities. Examine where you work, shop, and even where you get gas. Actively pay attention to your habits and try to correct them. Corrections are often just simple subtle shifts in behavior, however they must be consciously made to be effective.

How Hard are You To Kill

Give yourself a fair evaluation here. What’s your cardio like? Are you carrying a gun? What about a knife? Oh, and when was the last time you did any serious training? How often do you get wrapped into your phone and forget the outside world exists? 

With a criminal mindset in mind, walk through a public place, and try to take everyone in. Target the person you think would be the easiest to exploit. Examine the reasons why you’d target that person and see which could apply to you. 

The hardest people to target are often those who are paying attention. A lot can be said for proper situational awareness over physical attributes and equipment. Avoiding a fight because you detected a threat early is better than being a triathlete armed with a Microtech and a Glock 19. 

What Information Do You Present to Others? 

A good way to avoid ever interacting with the violent criminal elements of our country is avoiding it in the first place. The second best way is to have it avoid you. Using the criminal mindset to examine your personal behaviors is a must, but you should also examine the information you present to others, even unknowingly. From that Grunt Style Viking shirt to your obviously printing Glock 34. 


The Richland Police Department out of Washington State produced a graphic that says it all. Your vehicle can be an open-source of information for criminals. 

Walkthrough a parking lot and take a peek at various vehicles and see what information you can gather. Which cars are likely to have guns in them?  

Social Media 

How locked down is your social media? While some crimes are random, many are done by people you maybe tangentially associated with. How well do you know that old friend from high school who shares memes with you? 

Maybe not that person, but their shady cousins might be perusing your page and see guns, gear, maybe fun toys like ATVs, or awesome zero-turn lawnmowers. Well, they want it and are planning to take it. 

The best thing to do is not post stuff, but hey, it happens. The second best thing is to do is lock your social media down to where only friends and family can see what you post, or share, or like, etc. Then ensure your friend’s list is vetted. I nuked an old Facebook account just to start over because I barely knew a ton of people on my friend’s list. 

Going Criminal 

The Criminal Mindset is not a natural thing for normal people to adopt. However, on occasion, it should be donned in a critical thinking sense. Use the criminal mindset to examine your habits and the habits of others. Use the experience to make yourself harder to kill. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.