In a Post-SHTF World you can expect criminal activity from people who ordinarily are law abiding citizens. Disasters bring out the worst in everybody!

How safe are you? If government statistics are any indication, there’s reason to feel somewhat secure.

The latest U.S. Department of Justice crime figures show personal crimes — which include rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault — are at their lowest levels on record.

Property crimes — which include burglary, car theft, and theft — have stabilized after years of decline.

Yet this is no time to be complacent. Many criminals prey on people who are off guard, say crime and self-defense specialists who talked with WebMD. Criminals look for people who are not paying attention to their surroundings, and then use the element of surprise to their advantage.

If you ask a random person what is the most dangerous predator in the world, most people will mention animals wolves, bears, lions, sharks, and so forth. But we often forget that the most dangerous predator Earth is the human. They should not be underestimated, especially if they’re desperate.

When a long-term disaster such as an economic collapse occurs, the vast majority of people will not be prepared. A typical city only has about 3 days of food in the stores. After that, people with supplies will be targeted. I’m not saying every single person you encounter is going to rob you, but crime will definitely go up, especially if police are stretched to the limit (and they will be). This post is about how to avoid making yourself a target when out among civilians.

If you have any fantasies of yourself as a Chuck Norris type hero who can kick three or four guys’ asses at once, stop dreaming. Even if you’re in great shape, you’ll be hard pressed to win a fight with one thug, and thugs often travel in packs. And even if you do win the fight, what if you’re seriously wounded? Hospitals might be overcrowded or closed. So do your best to avoid combat. Here’s what to do:

1. Blend In. When out looking for supplies, materials or water, don’t look well-to-do. If you’re wearing your nice new jeans, hundred-dollar sneakers and Oakley sunglasses, people are going to assume you have a lot of stuff wherever you live and you will be followed home. Instead, wear torn jeans, old boots and a dirty T-shirt. Most criminals won’t waste their time with someone who looks as poor as they do.

2. Carry a Weapon. It’s a good idea to carry a gun with you, but it needs to be concealed. If it’s not, there’s the possibility that criminals might sneak up and jump you so they can steal it. Try carrying something like an axe or a shovel openly. Few people will care about stealing your shovel, and they’ll be less likely to rob you for fear of getting smacked in the face with it.

3. Look Confident. By this I mean stand tall, hold your head up, walk purposefully and confidently. Criminals prey on the weak, and if you look nervous or scared, they’re more likely single you out.

4. Stay Out in the Open. This might seem like the last thing you’d want to do, but it’s actually safer. If instead you sneak up and down alleys, you’ll be more likely to wander into a trap where you can’t call for help.

5. Avoid Large Crowds. Yes, you want to be out in the open where you can call for help, but being in the middle of a large crowd does not count as out in the open. It is too easy for someone to pick your pocket unnoticed.

6. Travel in Groups. The more people in your group, the less likely you’ll be robbed. Never travel alone if you can help it.

7. Know Where You’re Going. The less time you spend outside, the better, so don’t risk getting lost. Bring a map with you and study it carefully ahead of time. Make sure you know the quickest, safest way home, no matter where you might be.

8. Don’t Go Out at Night. This should be self explanatory. If you absolutely have to go out at night, bring a flashlight, but don’t use it. That would just make you a target. However, if some suspicious people approach you, shine the light on them. You’ll be able to see them and they won’t be able to see you. This way they’ll be more likely to back off. One more tip: Hold the flashlight as far to the side of your body as you can reach, that way if they shoot at it, they’ll likely miss you.

Remember, humans are the most dangerous predator of all.