How to prevent and deal with being mugged. At best you lose your wallet and cell phone; at worst you end up losing your life. This can and does happen. Never think this is something that happens to other people in other areas. The reality is an attack can happen to anyone and anywhere.
So let`s talk about how hopefully we can keep ourselves safe, and not have to experience being mugged.
Being mugged is no joke
Often the assailant chooses you as their victim on a purely random basis – you were basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other cases, the assailant is someone with a grudge. Either way, it helps to have some knowledge of self-defense so you can fight back. So, what are your options if a mugger jumps you as you stroll down a dark alleyway?
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
It is customary to walk around these days with a phone clamped to one’s ear or plugged into a pair of headphones. Unfortunately, whilst this offers a great opportunity to listen to your favorite music, you tend to be less aware of what is happening around you.
The best way to avoid being mugged, apart from wandering through a rough neighborhood wearing expensive jewelry, is to pay attention to the people and events unfolding nearby. If you spot someone acting suspiciously, or you suspect you are being followed, you can react faster to what happens, or even get away quickly enough to avoid conflict.
Make a Lot of Noise
Our instinct is often to freeze up and we lose our ability to scream. This is the worst thing you can do. Muggers love it when you just stand there and let them take your valuables. Instead, scream or shout as loudly and as aggressively as you can. Let loose a stream of profanities and tell the mugger exactly what you think of them. Be angry! It might just be enough to startle them into backing off and leaving you in peace.
Muggers don’t usually expect their victims to fight back. Most people are too shocked when jumped from behind or attacked head on. They don’t have the presence of mind to switch from victim to attacker, but if you can cause a mugger serious pain, he is likely to back off. Your best tactic is to run away if possible, but if the mugger has grabbed you or thrown you to the ground, try and target his vulnerable areas, namely his eyes, nose, throat, and genitals.
Any sharp instrument, even a finger or thumb, can be used to stab a mugger in the eye. Do this hard enough and your mugger will be temporarily disabled. The same applies if you kick or punch him in the throat or genitals. Use your fists or a tactical pen if you have one handy. Hopefully the pain you inflict will be enough to give you the opportunity for escape.
Don’t be a Hero
No amount of self-defense strategies will protect you if an assailant is carrying a knife or firearm. If this is the case, give the mugger what he wants and hope he leaves you alone. Once he’s gone, you can call the police and thank your lucky stars you have avoided any serious injuries.
Stay with the Crowd
Pickpockets and scam artists love selecting their victims out of a crowd; it makes it easy for them to swipe your valuables and then disappear into a sea of faces without anyone noticing. Robbers, on the other hand, don’t want witnesses, so they gravitate toward shadowy corners and unlit alleys.
Always walk with a group and stay in a crowded, well-lit area. Park your car under a streetlamp and avoid dark streets and alleys.
Don’t Carry Valuables
Imagine you’re a thief casing out potential victim. Who would you rather rob: a woman dripping in diamonds and wearing a $2,000 Louis Vuitton purse or the nondescript man carrying a worn backpack?
Thieves will notice if you’re wearing expensive jewelry, sporting a luxury watch, or carrying a high-end purse or briefcase. Your clothing and car also say a lot about how much cash and valuables you might be carrying. Yes, it’s nice to have and use your expensive items, but do so knowing that they might make you a target.
Maintain Situational Awareness
Situational awareness means being aware of what’s going on around you and asking yourself if anything or anyone could be a threat to your health and safety.
Situational awareness is key in military and law enforcement because staying aware of your surroundings is essential for making sound decisions during life-threatening situations. In civilian life, however, most people don’t maintain any level of situational awareness. They’re listening to music or looking at their phones with no clue of what’s going on around them. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of people falling down a sewer opening or tripping headfirst into wet concrete because they’re staring at their phones.
When you’re out and about, put away your phone and pay attention to what’s happening around you. Look at each and every person and determine if they’re a potential threat. Look at their faces, their body language, and their dress. Follow your gut. Paying attention to your surroundings can alert you to potential threats before a conflict occurs and give you a few precious seconds to respond or get away.
Don’t Let Strangers Approach You
In 2017, the Today Show interviewed David Solano, who is currently serving time for robbery and estimates he’s mugged more than 100 people. He said that when he was casing out a potential victim, he looked to see if they were wearing a watch, and if they were, he asked them for the time. Or, he’d stop someone and ask for directions. The moment they looked down at their watch or started to think about directions, Solano would grab their wrist and twist their arm behind their back. Once he was in control, he’d grab their purse or wallet.
Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by other people. If someone asks you for the time, ignore them or keep walking. Don’t break your stride. It might not be the most courteous thing to do, but it could help you avoid being robbed. If someone asks you for directions and you want to help, maintain your distance while speaking with them.
Don’t Look Like a Victim
Solano also admitted that he would target anyone who he felt was “weak,” which included elderly people. That’s why it’s so important to project an image of strength using your body language. To do this:
- Keep your head up, not bowed.
- Look people in the eyes.
- Stand up straight.
- Keep your shoulders back.
- Walk with purpose, even if you’re lost. Don’t take small steps as this will make you look timid.
- Always look like you know where you’re going. Never walk around with an open map.
- Keep your hands visible; don’t put them in your pockets.
- When you’re standing still, take up space. Keep your feet wide apart instead of close together.
These subtle gestures and movements tell a potential attacker that you’re strong and not afraid, and they’ll likely move on to someone who looks more like an easy target.
When possible, always wear clothing that will allow you freedom of movement if you need to run or kick. High heels, for example, can be a liability if you’re attacked.
Know Where to Walk
Stay vigilant when turning corners as these are danger zones, particularly at night. When you turn a corner, you’re entering the street blind, especially when you cut close to a building. Attackers often hide around corners to catch people off guard.
When walking, always maintain at least a five-foot distance between a corner or the edge of a car. Walk on the sidewalk staying closer to the street, putting some distance between yourself and dark alleys and doorways.
Last, always walk facing traffic. When you walk with traffic, someone can pull up behind you and jump out of the car to attack, and you’ll never see them coming. When you’re facing traffic, however, you can always see what’s ahead of you.
Take a Self-Defense Class
Sign up for a self-defense class to reduce your fear and increase your confidence. When you have the strength and knowledge to protect yourself and your family, you won’t have to worry as much about becoming a victim. Martial arts that work well for self-defense include:
- Mixed martial arts
- Krav Maga
The strength and confidence you gain from learning martial arts for self-defense can have a positive influence in other areas of your life too. You’ll have more energy to play with your kids, you’ll be more confident at work, and you might even be less afraid to pursue opportunities you wouldn’t have considered before.
Thieves often hide near ATM`s because they’re an easy and quick source of cash. They hold someone up at gunpoint, force them to withdraw large amounts of money, and disappear in a flash. It’s an easy holdup because people are often distracted at the ATM, fumbling with their wallet or purse or looking for their debit card.
Avoid ATM`s whenever possible, especially at night. Make an effort to get the cash you need during the day, ideally by going into the bank itself. Never use ATM`s that are off the beaten path or when you have to go alone. If you use a drive-up ATM, pause before you pull up, look for any suspicious activity, and keep your doors locked.
Do Your Homework Before You Travel
It should come as no surprise that robbers, scam artists, and pickpockets like tourists. They’re usually easy to pick out in a crowd, they don’t know their way around, they don’t know how or where to contact police, and they typically don’t speak the native language.
If you’re planning an international trip, make sure you research the common types of theft abroad and look up the most common scams and thefts for the area you’re visiting. Also, keep your money safe when traveling by putting your wallet in your front pocket or wearing your purse around your torso, instead of hanging off your shoulder where it’s easier to grab.
What to Do if You’re Robbed
If the worst happens and you do end up a victim of a robbery, here’s what to do.
Escape the Situation & Call the Police
If you think someone is following you and your gut tells you something’s not right, cross the street as soon as you can. If the person crosses after you, call the police.
If you can’t cross the street, then kneel suddenly with your back to a wall and pretend to tie your shoe. If the person stops as well, call the police. You can also duck into an open business and call the police from inside.
Give Them What They Want
Typically, robbers only want your cash and valuables. If you’re robbed, keep your head down and just hand it over. Your life isn’t worth whatever’s in your wallet. Never escalate the situation with physical violence unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The only time violence is necessary is if your attacker is trying to force you to go somewhere else. In that case, fight back with everything you’ve got. Your chances of survival drop drastically if you go to a different location, since this usually means the robber has more sinister plans.
While you’re being robbed, you’ll probably be terrified and pumped full of adrenaline. However, it’s important that you maintain your situational awareness and pay close attention to the thief. How tall are they? What are they wearing? Do they have any visible tattoos or scars? What color is their hair? Their eyes?
Police will ask for this information, and the more you can tell them, the greater the likelihood they have of catching the robber.
Mace or pepper spray is a very effective deterrent against thieves, and you can pick up a canister for around $10 on Amazon. Most canisters have a range of 4 to 10 feet, and some even include a dye that, when sprayed on an attacker’s face, will make them instantly recognizable to police.
However, Mace won’t do you any good if it’s buried in your purse or the glove box of your car. Keep the canister in your hand every time you’re walking and be ready to use it at a moment’s notice.
Call Attention to Yourself
If you’re being robbed, you should scream, yell, or make as much noise as possible. Robbers don’t want witnesses, and this often makes them flee faster.
That said, it’s important to realize that people might not come to your aid if you yell for help. This is because of the bystander effect, which occurs when multiple people hear or witness an event but no one takes action because they assume someone else will do so, or simply don’t want to get involved.
Don’t just yell, “Help!” yell, “I’m being robbed! I need help!” Being specific helps bystanders overcome the assumption that, despite what they’re hearing, the emergency isn’t real.
If the people around you are simply watching the event take place, address them personally. Look someone in the eye, if you can, and yell, “You! Please help me!” This direct appeal can shake people out of the belief that they shouldn’t help or that it’s not their responsibility. The bystander effect influences all of us, and it might take effort on your part to get others to act.
No one wants to think about being robbed. However, using a few simple strategies and changing your habits can help you avoid becoming a victim.
Also, keep in mind that during special events (such as summer concerts) or specific times of the year (such as the winter holidays), criminal activity often increases because there are more targets to choose from. Be extra vigilant during these times, and always walk with at least one other person.
How to prevent and deal with being mugged. Bottom line is, always stay focused and aware of what’s happening, it might just save your life.