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Monday, April 25, 2011

Mugging examples and what to do to avoid them

Original Article

My wife went to the gym yesterday and some acquaintances told her of muggings they have recently suffered.
These occurred during daytime, the first during the morning and the second one about 4 PM. Keep in mind that this is my neighborhood, what is considered “very good” in local terms since we have private security in most of the street corners. These incidents occur usually in the blocks that still don’t have security, when the guard left momentarily for whatever reason (bathroom for example) or it just occurs in spite of the guards, the mugging being pretty fast.
In the first case this woman was walking calmly in the sidewalk. As she passed by a young kid walking the opposite direction, this kid about 14 or so simply turned around hit her in the back of the head, sending her to the floor. She was dizzy and had a hard time getting up. she said she started chasing this kid that took her purse before she realized she had a hard time keeping her balance. “ I can barely stand, what the heck am I doing chasing this mugger?” She said to my wife.
In the second case, a couple, man and woman, walking on the same sidewalk but opposite direction, both young, well dressed, fake surprise as they get near the victim “Oh! How are you doing!? Its been so long since we last saw you!”. Before the women even has a chance to figure out if she knows them, they both close in and hug her. As the couple hugs the surprised woman, she feels an object pressed against her side as someone whispers in her ear “If you move I shoot you”. She stays put, her purse is taken away from her, and the couple walks away. To the eyes of people just a few yards away, the scene is just a woman that happened to come across a couple old friends.

What to do?

These are probably the hardest type of crime to avoid. If the criminal acts normal, dresses well, you simply don’t have any warning signs because its just a person like everybody else. He’s not a dirty junky or gang member, but Average Joe and Soccer mom walking around.
When streets are fairly deserted and someone approaches, what I do is no matter what, if it’s people coming close I accept the possibility of them being up to no good. I just don’t like having people walk on my back, the sounds of footsteps coming from the blind spot feels uncomfortable. What I do is slow around, move towards the street (don’t do it in the other direction or you corner yourself) so as to leave enough space for the person to pass while I turn towards him. Usually it makes people feel uncomfortable when you do so but I try pretending I’m looking at something else or crossing the street. I’m not talking of hostile body language or anything, just moving to a side to leave space, stopping and turning toward them. Most people will think its strange but just hurry pass you. If it’s a criminal he may just be surprised and look for someone less aware, or if he goes for it at least you have more space to either run or fight. In any case you’re not caught by surprise and that’s good.
If its someone walking towards me I move so as to leave as much space as the sidewalk allows, and keep an eye on the person as he walks by, just turning your head and torso a bit allows you to keep an eye on the person as he or she walks five or six yards pass you. Also keep in mind the sound of the footsteps. Those usually give you some information. If as you keep walking and turn your head back to the direction you’re going you hear a fast pace of footsteps then turn back in case their moving against you. These are all very natural, basic instinctive things but as rational creatures we’ve been trying for generations to shut down this basic instinct because its considered impolite. Survival instincts may not be very polite at times but they have their reasons.
A woman who’s husband works for the local municipal government told my wife that they are going to implement “safe corridors” from schools to train stations and other points of public transportation. Seems that kids and parents are being attacked when picking the kids from school so they will post military personal (gendarmeria) to create safe corridors.
The rest of the neighborhood? Better stick to the blocks that are guarded.
Take care folks,

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