I was mugged twice, and almost mugged two more times. The latter two incidents were avoided by using some of the tips below, the others are things I failed to do that caused me to get mugged. Just remember (and I’ll reinforce this a lot) your life is not worth the contents of your wallet.
Walk on the edge of the sidewalk closest to the street. Keep as far away from dark nooks and doorways as you can (without looking like a lunatic!). Look at every area and think where you would hide if you were an attacker, and then put some distance between it and yourself.
I’m not saying you have to cross the street at every alleyway; you don’t. But simply staying an extra foot or two away gives you a few seconds to think. Remember, your attacker already has a plan. You have to form one on the fly. A few feet gives you a second to decide how to behave.
Be Alert and Follow Your Instincts
Use your senses when walking alone. You can feel footsteps through the ground if they’re close. You can hear a leaf crack or gravel move. You can smell aftershave, cologne, or the smell of an unwashed body. You can see if a something moves against the wind.
Your body processes these things, even subconsciously. When I was mugged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, I felt like something was amiss before it happened. Listen to your instincts. Get on the phone with a friend, stop, or go back inside. Worry about feeling silly after you’re safe.
Adjust Your Eyes
In a non-scientific experiment I locked myself in a bathroom with no light but whatever came in under the door. It took me five minutes to be able to navigate, ten to see. Avoid walking from a fully lighted area directly into the night.
Your eyes need time to adjust; otherwise you’re giving a mugger who’s been waiting in the bushes for an hour a huge advantage. The first time I was mugged I didn’t see the two until they were right on top of me because I had no night vision. If I had, I could have reached the door and saved a wallet I was pretty fond of.
Don’t Look Like a Victim (but Don’t Be a Hero)
Mugging is a job. Just like you and me, muggers prefer to keep their job easy. So walk with confidence and make eye contact with people. Don’t stare but if it turns into a stare, smile politely, look away, and move on. Don’t walk so slowly that you look like you’re afraid of every shadow, or so quickly that you look afraid of the area you’re in. Imagine you’re walking casually through a mall or some other safe place. If you do carry a weapon, leave it in your pocket even if you feel the need to hold on to it. Even a hint of confident swagger can be useful.
Speaking on that, confidence is intimidating, bravado is a challenge. Avoid being aggressive. Think of a criminal like a wolf. They respond to both fear and challenges with aggression. And no matter how many articles you read, he’s a lot better at this game then you are. If you can’t find a way to talk your way out of it, don’t make it worse.
One of the tricks used in the second and third mugging I was first asking for a small amount of money or a cigarette. While they did this, they closed the distance between themselves, their weapons, and me. Before I go any further there are a lot of homeless and downtrodden people out there who are not muggers, so nine times out of ten this is legitimate. Use a tactic I call “Lie and Buy” to stop this.
When asked, “Can you give me (a cigarette/five dollars/a ride),” laugh with them and say something along the lines of, “Sorry, I’m actually looking for my wallet. It fell out of my pocket/purse. It’s brown leather and has red stitching. Have you seen it?” Then look hopefully at them. Not only have you just told them you have no money, but you’ve also given them another task; find the missing wallet before you do!
Just remember, if all of the above fails:
Your life is not worth your money.