Byron Walls, ‘California Crimefighter,’ visits Murrieta Library to give safety tips

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Byron Walls, founder of California Crimefight and traveling public speaker, was at the Murrieta Public Library Tuesday, Sept. 17, to offer crime tips to local Murrieta residents.

According to the Friends of the Murrieta Library, Walls has been speaking on the subject of public safety since starting work for Citizens Against Crime in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1980. He started California Crimefight upon moving to Southern California in 1996.

Walls, who has a background as a comedian and actor, gave the audience tips on things like home protection, car safety, fighting tactics and weapons.

Homes, he said, should always be locked with deadbolts whenever possible.

“A regular lock, you can open with a credit card,” he said. “It takes three, four, five minutes to break through a deatbolt – there’s a good chance he (a would-be burglar) will get discouraged, go next door to the neighbors.”

Alarm systems are effective but can cost a lot of money. It’s much more cost-effective, he said, just to use security alarm stickers without actually going to the expense of buying a system.

“I had a man in the program last year – he said every house in his cul-de-sac had been broken into over the last two years except his,” Walls said. “His was the only house on that cul-de-sac with window stickers.”

Another option is a battery-powered doorstop wedge alarm, he said, which can set off a noisy klaxon and physically block a door in the case of a break-in.

“I don’t care if it’s a 300-pound linebacker pushing on that door, it’s not coming open unless it’s coming off the hinges,” Walls said.

For people walking to their cars late at night – especially women – he recommended having keys in hand before even walking out the door. One reason is to avoid distraction, but the other is that they can be used as weapons themselves.

But for the most part, Walls said it’s safest to comply with a robber’s demands in most cases.

“Somebody grabs you by surprise, says freeze or I’ll kill you – what are you gonna do?” he asked the audience. “He says ‘give me your money,’ what are you gonna do? He says ‘give me your car keys,’ what are you gonna do? You give them up. You can replace them – your family can’t replace you.”

It’s a much different circumstance, though, if the demands move beyond just property.

“He says get in the car, that’s when you run, you do not let him transport you somewhere,” Walls said. “Once you get in the car, the odds go way up that you will not be seen alive again. On the other hand, according to the FBI, if you run there’s a 95 percent chance you’ll get away.”

What it mostly boils down to, Walls said, is that robbers and burglars want victims who require the least amount of effort for the most amount of gain.

“He wants somebody who’s quick, easy and low risk,” Walls said. “He’s not gonna shoot you or chase you. He doesn’t care that much about you. He just wants a victim who’s quick and easy.”