My sister was mugged on Tuesday. Surprisingly, it happened in the middle of the day on a busy street in NYC. The man got off with her iPhone, scratched her face, and left her stunned that no one tried to help her. First, I wished I had been there to help (all big and scary 5 ft. nothing of me). Second, I wished that she (and others) could avoid a situation like this, which brings me to the topic of today’s blog post: How to Avoid Being Mugged. Many of our industry friends and insurance clients live or work in New York City, so this could just be a reminder of how to stay safe. Although you can’t predict when or where something like this would happen, there are ways you can lessen your chance from being the next victim.
5 Ways to Avoid Being Mugged
- Stay Alert and Avoid Distractions-
Pay attention to your surroundings. My sister’s biggest mistake was talking on her cell phone while walking. People do it everyday as it allows you to take that ten minute phone call off of your list of errands. On the other hand, you’re distracting yourself from what is going on around you (especially behind you). Sketchy characters could approach you quickly while you aren’t paying attention. Other distractions to avoid while walking include listening to headphones and looking at a map. Staying alert and being prepared gives you a chance that the mugger will not approach you.
*Note: A common trick for muggers is to ask victims for the time. If this happens, try not to take your eyes off the person while you get the information.
- Avoid Dangerous Areas (Especially at Night)-
If you aren’t familiar with the city, ask locals where to avoid. If you can’t find an alternate route, learn how to be safe in a bad neighborhood, like trying to blend in and travel in groups.
*Note: If traveling through dangerous areas if a frequent thing for you, consider making a “muggers wallet.” As long as it looks credible enough, this is a good way to throw off muggers and get away safely. Go to this website to learn how to make a decoy wallet.
- Know Where You Are Going and Plan Your Route-
Looking lost can make you look like a tourist or easy prey. Get directions prior to leaving your house so you look like you know where you are going with minimal stops to check a map. Like Mapquest and Google Maps, Hopstop.com is a website that can give you directions if you are traveling by walking, using the subway, train, bus, taxi etc. You can also personalize your route based on what modes of transportation you plan to take. Another helpful website is Neighborhood Scout, where you can get the general crime rates as well as other information about an area.
- Someone Following You? Head to a Public Place-
If you feel like you are being followed, head to the nearest cafe, bank, supermarket, or anywhere there may be more people around. Muggers are less likely to strike if you’re in a public place where they may get caught.
- Don’t Act Like A Tourist-
Sure, the buildings look pretty and they sure are high up there in the sky. While gazing up at them may be tempting, realize that this screams “you-look-like-a-tourist.” Generally, if you look straight ahead and look like you have an important place to go you should be alright. Avoid the fanny packs.
What to do if you are being mugged or after it’s already happened-
- Make Noise or Scream-
My sister was able to keep her bag by screaming. The guy gave up and ran off with her phone. Don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself.
- Call the Cops-
Using 911, give the police the sex, approximate age, clothing color and type, and direction of flight of your perpetrator. This will increase the chances that the mugger will be found. There is also an iPhone app called “iDistress” that tracks your location by GPS. Once you trigger the emergency signal, it sends an email or text to three contacts of your choice and dials 911. The messages sent to your contacts includes a map of your location and makes it easy for you to be located. This app can also help if you are in a car accident, are injured, or are in an emergency situation and are unable to speak.
See the video below for how to use it:
We hope that this article will help you avoid being the victim of a mugging. New York City is huge, diverse and exciting, offering something to do all of the time. Just use common sense and be street smart while you are exploring or going about your regular day.
Have you ever been mugged? What did you do? Leave a comment below if you have tips we did not mention in this article…