Security Against Muggers
by Ron Kurtus (revised 29 January 2012)
A mugger is a person who will try to take your purse of wallet, while you are walking down the street or in a parking lot. They often knock down their victims. The reason for the attack is usually for financial gain.
Security against such an attack primarily consists of discouraging theft and rapid response or counter-attack.
Questions you may have include:
- What are the reasons a person would steal a purse or wallet?
- How can theft be discouraged?
- What type of rapid responses are possible?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Motivations for attack
Knowing the motivations of the criminally-minded person who may attack you personally is important in preparing your defenses for such an attack.
Motivations for muggings include:
- Items in purse
Money and other items
It seems obvious that the reason a mugger would take your purse or wallet is to get the contents. Often they want the money, but they may also want to get the credit cards, identification or keys.
For example, the following clever purse-snatching wasn't exactly a mugging, but the motive and consequences for the victim were clear:
A woman went into the restroom in a department store. She hung her purse on the hook on the stall door, as she relieved herself. Someone then reached over the door and took her purse off the hook. By the time she got the stall door opened, the person was gone.
After got home, she received a call from the department store, saying they had found her purse. They asked if she would come back to the store immediately to claim her belongings. Her husband drove her to the store, but the lost and found know nothing of the purse or the call.
When the couple got back home, they found that thieves had opened the door with a key and stolen money and many items from the house.
Money and thrills
Some muggings aren't for money as much as for thrills by mindless teens. Getting money is secondary to the thrill of being a "gangster."
A person must always be aware and take measures to discourage a theft by mugging.
Ways to discourage a mugging include:
- Being aware or your surroundings and alert to suspicious people or dangerous situations
- Hold onto your valuables and don't carry them, so they are easy to take
- Walk with confidence and look like you can fight back
- If you can't fight back, be around those who can
One of the best ways to avoid mugging is to be aware of your surroundings.
Muggers pick those oblivious
Professional muggers in large cities say they watch potential victims carefully. They look for people who seem oblivious to their surroundings or who look clumsy. It is easy to surprise an unaware person, as well as to knock down a clumsy victim. Older women are also easy targets.
Being aware of what is going on around you can help ward off an attack. Also, avoid dangerous situations. Walking along the sidewalk near doorways and alley entrances is not a good idea. It is better to walk near the middle of the sidewalk.
Muggings from car
Using a car is a new mugging technique in shopping center parking lots. The car will drive near a woman walking to or from her car, and someone will reach out the window and grab her purse. The car will pull away, knocking the woman down and perhaps dragging her until the purse is free.
It is a good idea to keep the purse on the side away from where cars drive by. It is also unfortunate that you must be so careful to avoid such attacks.
Mugging in a car
There have been cases where a woman is at a stop light, and a person will walk up to the car on the passenger side, throw a brick through the window, reach in, and take the purse sitting on the seat.
It is good to beware of people walking around cars when they are stopped at a light, as well as to put the purse in a safe location.
Look like you can defend yourself
You should always try to look sure that you can defend yourself. Old people need to be in groups or be especially careful of situations where they may seem vulnerable.
Women carrying two grocery bags while going to their car in the shopping center parking lot seem defenseless against an attack, because their arms are occupied. You have to look like you can defend yourself.
One old man was often mugged while crossing an overpass alone, while going to the grocery store. Teen punks would wait for him and then knock him down and take his money. He then start to carry a cane that he would lift in a mildly threatening position when he was approached by the punks. They were discouraged, because he looked like he could fight back.
If you are attacked by a mugger, you should be prepared to respond, as well as to make a counter-attack.
Some responses are:
- Yell and scream
- Have pepper spray or other weapon to counter-attack
Yelling or screaming can scare off a mugger, if there are other people around. Using weapons to fight back are often effective.
Mugger wanting a purse of wallet not only want the money but often contents. Being aware and cautious, as well as looking like you can fight back will discourage most muggers. Having some weapons to fight back can also be effective in stopping an attack.
Know where there is danger
Resources and references
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Security Against Muggers