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Save Yourself: Protecting against violent crimes

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - You never think you'll be the victim of an assault, random attack or home invasion, but every day these violent crimes are happening on the streets of the Suncoast.

Police are urging that you learn how to protect yourself, so if you ever have to fight for your life, you're prepared.

Protecting yourself against violent crimes goes deeper than locking your doors and installing a home security system. If you really want to lower your chance of being the next victim, police suggest simply: be aware of your surroundings.

"If a bad person wants to make you a victim, they're going to do that if you're not paying attention," Lt. Randy Boyd of Sarasota Police Department says. "We have really good instincts. We were given those. We need to use them. If you see something that is suspicious, if you see something that makes you pause to think 'that doesn't look good,' go a different direction, wait, call for help."

Lt. Boyd says sometimes we forget to use the common sense techniques that we already know and attacks still happen.

"You have to remove those valuable items from the vehicle," Lt. Boyd says. "Take them in the house with you at night. Don't leave your $3,500 camera or your laptop lying out or your iPhone. We preach constantly: trim your bushes away from your windows so that when a police officer or a neighbor is looking over at your house, they can see your windows. Be a great neighbor. If we could get everyone to look out for their neighbors, it would really help us."

But still, attacks happen.

"Anything can be a weapon," Lt. Boyd says. "If your life is in danger and someone is attacking you, we expect you to use every amount of anything that you can find to protect yourself."

Self-defense instructor Mark Nomady warns that sometimes you won't have a weapon.

"I think a lot of people think that a firearm is going to give them a level of safety, and they want to carry a firearm," Nomady says. "But the reality is, at least in my experience, 80 percent of the time when you have an encounter, you're not going to be able to use deadly force."

Kempo Karate Master Derrick Clark taught ABC 7's Jess Doudrick three simple moves that you can use if you're attacked no matter your age, size or strength.

"We are taking you out of your comfort zone because out there on the street, that's what's going to happen," Clark says. "If you're familiar with it, you have a better chance."

Some tools involve having a tool called a Kubaton. You can buy one online or at most Martial Arts stores. Then attach it to your keys, and those keys themselves can also be used as weapons.

Clark's Self-Defense tailors the classes to the individual. You can take a one on one class or a group class. You can take classes as frequently as you'd like, but Clark warns that it takes about six months to a year until you'll be completely comfortable and prepared to use the moves on the streets.

"A guy is not going to attack another guy the way they would a woman," Clark says. "Women have different needs and different strengths that we try to capitalize on. It's their fingernails, their knees and elbows."

Most moves are easy so that anyone can use them.

"It's almost like anyone can use an elbow," Clark says. "Anyone can do a knee, just as long as you have some balance and a little bit of patience."

67-year-old Leslie Turbeville started taking classes two months ago. He says he wanted to feel more secure, be confident about defending himself and wanted some extra physical fitness.

"The goal is that I don't have to think about the moves," Turbeville says. "They are very complicated, and there's real technique to do it properly. The goal is to do it unconsciously without having to think about it. That takes a lot of practice."

"Everyone needs it at every stage of life," Clark says. "You never know. It could be that one time you're walking to your car, someone comes up behind you and then you wish you took self defense."