Tips for Protecting Yourself from the National Crime Prevention Council
Avoidance Is the Best Protection
Experts advise that if you want to avoid being a victim of a mugging you should follow the steps outlined below:
- When walking, be aware of what is around you. Avoid threatening situations. Stay in high-traffic, well-lit areas. Stay close to the street and away from thick bushes, dark doorways, alleys and access doors to vans. Watch for cars driving slowly behind or just in front of you. Other things being equal, walk on the side of the street with on-coming traffic.
- Stay off the cell phone and eliminate the iPod, because it distracts you and leads to shuffling, not paying attention, and walking blindly into bad locations. People who stumble or appear distracted or weak look like easy targets to criminals. Robbers are also likely to target people who are flaunting material possessions or even just displaying a cocky, superior attitude.
- Women should always carry their purse over the shoulder and close to the body. If carrying a large amount of cash or valuables, hide it somewhere under your clothes. Men should carry their cash in a money clip in their front pants pocket.
If you see a person or persons around that look threatening cross to the other side of the street or go into a public place.
- If you still wind up being confronted by a potential mugger (but you aren’t sure yet) act confident and look like you are ready to respond to a problem and/or put up a fight. Look at the person (not down at the ground) and keep moving. Do not stop to engage in conversation! Keep moving toward the nearest open door or well-lighted area and get ready to call 911 on your cell phone.
Deal With The Incident Calmly and Quickly
If you do all of the above and are still accosted by an armed robber, the experts advise:
- do precisely as you are told, and no more;
- avoid eye contact with the robber;
- speak only when spoken to;
- tell the robber exactly what you are doing;
- make no sudden movements;
- try to remain calm and control your emotions;
- fight back physically only as a last resort, when you feel as if your life or person (or someone with you) is, at that moment, truly in danger;
- don’t activate alarms unless it is safe to do so.
To help stay calm, focus on observing details about the mugger.
If the attacker wants more than your possessions, you do need to go into self-defense mode.
- Switch from being passive to aggressive.
- Go for the eyes, groin, knee caps
- Yell, scream (experts say yell: FIRE! CALL 911!)
- Use weapons if you have them
- Run away the best you can
DO NOT GET INTO A CAR OR GO WITH THE ATTACKER TO SOME OTHER PLACE EVEN IF HE PROMISES YOU HE WILL NOT HURT YOU!
After the Incident
Phone the police immediately, giving:
- name and address of premises you are in or near, its area and location;
- number of offenders; their description and direction of travel;
- description of weapon used;
- description and license of vehicle used.
Do not trust your memory. Write down all the details and descriptions as soon as possible.
Fight Back By Being a Good Witness and Insist on Prosecution
There are ways to fight other than the ‘macho’ way of the movies. The real reason you are complying with the robber – other than self-preservation – is that this will allow you to pay attention to every detail of the robber and his methods, enabling you to be a strong witness for the police. Let the police pursue the thief. Most robbers slip apprehension because of bad or faulty information from witnesses or from the crime scene. To ensure that justice is done, you need to insist on prosecution and be willing to testify in court. Do not let the criminal off the hook!
Try to observe characteristics like sex, age, height, weight, race, prominent or unusual features, and color of skin and eyes. In addition, noting identifying characteristics such as scars, tattoos, clothing, limps and traits of speech are all very helpful in finding the culprits.
Note behavioral characteristics: How does this person act? Worried, mad, confused, drunk? What was his speech like? Did he have an accent? Did he or others slip into a second language? If others were helping, did they use nicknames? What were the interactions with the other offenders? Was a particular person in charge?
Law officers suggest two easy ways to estimate height: compare the robber with a fixed structure in the area—like a doorframe or a tree. Or at least compare the person with yourself for height, weight and build. Accurate descriptions of the weapon can also be a big help.
Try to notice too whether the criminal touches anything that might leave fingerprints: counter edges, door handles, cash register keys, etc. Don’t touch those areas until the police arrive, and keep others away as well.
Make sure you call the police (911) before you call anyone else, but later, please report the incident to the Shipoke Crimewatch–http://shipoke.org/–so that the entire neighborhood can be on the look out for the bad guy and others can be alerted to the danger. We will pass along only the details that you want your neighbors to know