Guam - With a rise in crime in recent months, more and more island residents are seeking their own sort of personal protection.  There has been an increase in crime on the island, but Cop Shop owner Adolpho Palacios says there's also been an increase in pepper spray sales.

In fact over the holiday season, Palacios says they ran out and had to order more as women, joggers, walkers and even fathers bought the spray to arm their kids. "They use it for so many other things. The advantage of pepper spray is first of all it's not fatal and it doesn't have an after effect. But of course what it does is it gives a person personal protection of about 3-5 minutes as the person that's targeted is distracted with the burning eyes which will go away," he explained.

Palacios, a former police officer and senator, says while pepper spray and batons may come in handy - the best protection is being aware of your surroundings and keeping an eye out for suspicious individuals and activity to prevent becoming a victim. "People now are becoming more and more aware that with these crimes that occurred and people have been victimized," he said.

And while residents can rely on local law enforcement to come to their aid, others are being proactive and taking self defense courses such as those at Universal Martial Arts gym in Barrigada. Owner Henry Herr has been teaching self-defense to help people of all ages gain more confidence and prepare for the unexpected, and he told KUAM News, "In the class it pretty much covers everything whether someone is gonna take you to the ground you'll know how to defend yourself from that.  If someone is armed with a knife, machete, baseball bat, you name it we cover it. All the way down to teach you how to use a hat to defend yourself."

In recent months, Herr has been doing personal classes for navy personnel and others but the UMA gym offers the hapkido class for those who want to arm themselves with basic skills to avoid being a victim. "For ladies we teach how if someone's gonna snatch your bag how to work with your bag. The little umbrella that you put inside your purse, we teach you how to use that. It is very effective. Even on the strongest person," he said.

Those wanting to attend the hapkido self-defense classes at UMA gym can contact Herr at 971-1284.  The gym is located down the street from the Subway in Barrigada.

Palacios meanwhile gives sage advice for residents, saying, "The best protection a person can have is being conscious of the danger out there and to be aware of what is going on in the community."