How to avoid being mugged

Posted May 23rd, 2021 by SimpliSafe

How to avoid being mugged

When we’re out and about, often we let our guards slip. We’re told to look after our homes, make them secure, and we may invest in better home security systems, but what about on the streets, when you’re out in the open? How do you go about increasing your levels of security and safety? And how do you avoid being mugged?

Firstly, know your areas

Whether you’re just settling into a new area, visiting someplace new, or have lived in the same spot for decades, take the time to get to know your area more, or see if there are any distinct changes or incidents that have been reported.

Look out for any prime, target areas that muggers or burglars may look for, like a new jeweller’s shop or luxurious retail complex. Simply being aware is a good thing, so you can watch out for any potential targets where muggers may spy or commit their crimes. If there’s been some cases in a particular spot or area, you can then plan and map out any routes you take. 

Speak to neighbours

It’s always good to keep in touch with neighbours and the community. Being on a neighbourhood watch scheme is also beneficial. By speaking to your neighbours, you may get a more thorough understanding of your area and insight into any suspicious activities that have happened over the years, or even recently. Whether you’re new to the area or have been there for years, it’s never too late to get to know your neighbours and share important information. A stronger community can make for a stronger neighbourhood watch. 

Check your socials

Believe it or not, muggers, burglars and thieves can also pry on social media profiles, as well as around neighbourhoods. Muggers aren’t always spontaneous, many do their research. This can be checking people’s social media accounts to spot any clues or to track their whereabouts. All it takes is a simple post about going on holiday for a fortnight to leave yourself vulnerable. 

With real-time sharing and location tagging (geotagging), criminals can gauge a good sense of your lifestyle from your public social profiles and even spot opportunities. You may also post about your beautiful dog, including a hashtag of the breed, and on the same profile, you may have numerous pictures with locations showing your area and walking routes. It’s just something you should be very mindful about (especially with the recent surge in ‘dognapping’ cases), as social media may be a great tool for us in general, but it can also be a fantastic tool for muggers.

Avoid desolate areas

Whether it’s night or day, avoiding quiet, abandoned and desolate areas is always a good idea. Some routes may be shorter or quicker, but you just need to weigh up the hazards and be aware - think “is it worth it?” Darker or more out-of-the-way routes are perfect environments for muggers. Try to stick to busy streets and neighbourhoods - and well-lit ones if walking at night - so you’re closer to people or businesses. 

Safety in numbers

A saying so true. Wherever you can, walk in groups or pairs. The more people, the more likely you’re going to scare off potential muggers. Having more people around you is also better for defence and getting help, as if something were to happen, you have a better fighting chance. There will be more chances of being able to get help, either by someone calling the police or getting the attention of others. 

Daylight walking where possible

Whilst we should have the liberty to walk wherever we want and whenever, it’s sound advice to be aware of the dangers of the night and to plan around that awareness. If you can, do try to keep your walks saved for when it’s lighter. That way, you’re minimising risk. Muggings, of course, aren’t just limited to the evenings or nights, but they’re more likely to happen when it’s harder to see or when the streets are quieter. Especially if you like to walk through woodland areas, parks and off-the-beaten tracks, daytime is the preference here.

Keep your dogs close

If you’re a dog walker or own one or many and go for regular walks, you should be vigilant. Over the years, there’s been a tragic rise in dognapping cases. Especially if you have expensive breeds, do keep a watchful eye over anyone looking or acting suspicious around you. Always look behind you and around frequently to spot for any lurkers or followers. Some have been known to act in pairs or groups, where one person distracts you and may attack, whilst the other(s) snatches the dog(s). 

Avoid leaving dogs unattended and when you want to let them off lead for a play and a run around, make sure you’ve scanned the area or park. If you have a gut instinct or doubt about someone or a group nearby, and your dog is known for not obeying, try somewhere else. 

Conceal, don’t reveal

This one may be difficult for those who love to show off and take pride in their shopping. When we go shopping and love certain brands, it can be hard for us to hide branded bags and items, but it may be the smart idea to, especially if you live in an area known for muggers. A good idea is to take your own shopping bags (plain and unbranded) to carry any luxurious items on your walks. Rucksacks are also ideal, as these are harder to pinch and they give your arms and hands more freedom. Remember, all it takes is for one eye to spy a branded bag from afar, and you become a prime target, where you may gain an unwanted follower, who will wait for the perfect time and spot. 

Be mindful when listening to music

When out for a stroll, listening to music can be heaven. Getting out the house for some fresh air whilst listening to your favourite tunes can be lovely, but it can also be great for muggers. Straight away, a mugger can see you have either a mobile phone or music player on your person. Not only that, you’re distracted with music blasting in your ears. We can get carried away and forget about who may be watching us. You may be getting out your phone numerous times to skip a song or turn the volume up, each time giving someone a peek at what you have on you. 

Stick to busy areas as best you can, avoiding nighttime strolls. Because you’re shutting off one sense, so to speak, you need to be even more aware of your surroundings, for both potential muggers and pedestrian safety. Get into the habit of checking behind you, as you can’t hear what’s going on, and every so often take your earbuds out or hit the pause button. Heighten your sense of seeing and be vigilant on your walks when listening to music. Don’t appear completely distracted, and keep checking around you. 

Avoid wearing anything flashy

Whether it’s shiny jewellery, chains, watches, diamond-studded belts or handbags, it goes without saying that you should have your wits about you when walking, especially if you’re alone. Muggers can be compared to magpies; once they’ve seen something shiny, they set their sights on it and want to steal. Again, be super mindful and avoid taking out-of-the-way shortcuts, as it just isn’t worth it when you don’t know who could have an eye on you and your fancy attire. It’s all about making it as hard as possible for anyone to try and mug you, minimise the risk and stick to brighter areas that are more active and populated, especially if you like the finer things in life. 

What to do if you’re mugged

In the case of a mugging, you could be faced with a weapon and threat. It’s therefore advised to hand over what the mugger wants, which is typically money. If they want your purse or wallet with all your cards in, it’s advised to hand it over as you can contact your banks and companies to report stolen cards. 

If you’re lucky enough to have your eye on the ball and see it coming, you may be able to run to safety, or to where there are people. Muggers do not want attention from other groups, as then they become the prime target. If you know there are many people around that look like they’d help, don’t be afraid to call or scream out, as long as you think it’s safe. If you’ve got some distance from the mugger and are able to run to the group.

Even security and self-defence experts advise you to avoid and obey, as it’s about weighing out what is worth it and doing everything you possibly can to avoid anything escalating unless absolutely necessary.  Most muggings result in no injury, as most of them just want your money, watch or bag and to be on their way. And when handing over anything, try to maintain your distance, so throw your wallet or purse on the floor as far as possible.

If you’re at a cash machine and have been approached, again just follow the mugger’s demand - and depending on how much this person is asking for - you may be able to distract them by looking behind them with a gasp or by ‘acknowledging someone’ or ‘spotting the police’. As soon as the mugger is distracted, make a run for it and go into a nearby shop or to a group. Again, this all depends on the situation of how much they are demanding you take out or if you feel you’ve got a chance to escape safely. 

Whilst it may be hard, do your best to maintain situational awareness, and to remember your mugger’s identity. Look out for distinct markers like tattoos, hair, height, clothes etc. 

Consider a fake, dummy wallet or small purse to carry around with a few notes in with unused promotional cards or fake credit cards, so you can hand over this. 

It can’t be stressed enough to weigh out the situation during a mugging. But you need to be vigilant every time you step out of the house, as you never know who is on the hunt that day or night. And if you are mugged, head to the nearest business, shop, house or group for safety, so you’re not alone. Call the police to report it as soon as you are safe. If you can, try to jot down or note in your phone the identity of the mugger and other key notes so you don’t forget. This will help you give the most accurate description to the police, as the mugger may even get caught that day.