FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

At a well lit gas station, Bruce Belfield was approached and nearly robbed, but what the robber didn’t know was that he was an off-duty police officer.

Now, Belfield owns and teaches at Valente Brothers’ Official Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Fort Lauderdale.

As college students get ready to kick off the fall semester, Local 10’s MJ Acosta tapped into his SWAT team experience for tips on how to stay safe on and off campus.

“The buddy system is the biggest piece of advice I can give to people to keep them safe when they're away at school,” Belfield said.

He said self-defense training helps when traveling alone. The goal is to learn how to get yourself away from your attacker as quickly as possible.

Belfield said having a bottle of pepper spray doesn't guarantee safety, and that men are just as susceptible to attacks as women.

“You don't want to try and chase the guy down,” Belfield said. “You don't want to be a hero. You own safe is what's most important.”

Belfield also advised parents with college-aged children to know their schedule, give them a list of emergency numbers, and sign them up for self-defense classes.