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STARS Get Tips In Self Defense
Watch out, you thugs and robbers. Some middle aged and older citizens are learning how to break a choke hold, throw up their arms to redirect a blow, use their feet to scrape a shin and stomp on a toe, hit with the open hand or fist and other ways to combat unruly behavior.

Two dozen members of STARS took instruction in self-defense from their coordinator, Stanislaus County Deputy Tim Reed, and local karate teacher Scott Pettit at his Riverbank academy on Thursday.

Starting with the use of just hands, feet and body to resist an aggressor or avoid a mugger or thief, Pettit even went on to demonstrate on Reed how to deal with a gun or knife.

Mature in years but still active and eager to contribute to their community, STARS members volunteer many hours a month to help with tasks that do not require a sworn peace officer's qualifications. They deliver subpoenas, for example, keep an eye on empty properties, help with event parking and traffic control and generally assist deputies with observation and information.

A variety of topics were covered in the class. Organizer Mary Alpers warned them against getting too close to the door when approaching a house. Suddenly swung open, it can be used as a weapon.

"Never go into their house unless accompanied by a deputy," Reed added. "It's the lion's den. They know where everything is. You don't."

Reed noted police officers often sketch the interior layout of a frequent suspect's home only to find on their next visit everything has been moved, even the interior walls.

Pettit advised them to look for available weapons if accosted by an assailant. Even a newspaper picked up from a driveway can be rolled up to become an effective weapon for delivering blows to the face and head.

If STARS members carry a clipboard and are asking somebody to sign a paper, do not hand it over, but keep it in their possession because its edges are sharp and again can be used either in defense or attack by whoever holds it.