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It is hard to get robbed, raped, shot,
assaulted or murdered if you are not there.
                  Marc MacYoung

Tips on how to avoid being robbed

On this page:
Tip #1 | Tip #2 | Tip #3 | Tip #4 | Tip #5 | Tip #6 | Tip #7 | Tip #8 | Tip #9 | Tip #10 | Tip #11 | Tip #12 | Tip #13 | Conclusion | Further Resources

Robbery, by definition, is to take something from an individual by direct use of, or threat of, violence. It is "give it up or else." This is different from theft, which is committed through stealth (i.e. a pickpocket) or when you are not present (i.e. burglary).

It cannot be stressed enough that with robbery the criminal has come prepared to commit violence. There is no "warm up time" for the criminal. When he walks up to you he has already escalated it to the point where using physical violence makes sense to him.

This makes such encounters extremely dangerous from the get go. The victim seldom has a chance to "shift gears" fast enough to effectively defend herself. This is why it is critical for a would-be victim to recognize the developing danger signs of such an attack. And, having done so, take evasive maneuvers BEFORE the attack occurs. A common tactic is for the robber to just walk up and shoot a victim without warning. As the person is laying on the ground screaming in pain, the criminal takes what he wants.

This is why knowledge, awareness and avoidance are your best bets for staying safe from robberies. With these you can prevent yourself from being put into a position where you can be robbed. There is good news, however, the deterrents that successfully prevent a mugging also work against rapes by a stranger.


Tip #1 For a week, pretend to be a mugger.
Pretend that you are the bad guy and are going to ambush someone. Where would you stand in order to observe people entering and leaving in areas you regularly go? Where could you stand so they approach you or you could approach them without you being seen?

: Criminals seldom actually hide. It takes too long to emerge from a real hiding space. They most often position themselves in locations where they are not immediately seen. For example, many parking structures have areas where people exiting the elevators don’t look. People stepping off the elevator usually look towards their cars, not into a cubbyhole near the elevator. By standing there, criminals can watch a parade of potential victims. These areas are located where they can easily intercept a person or approach from behind. By playing this game, you acquaint yourself with such spots in areas where you regularly go. By being aware of these spots, you also tend to unconsciously check them. If you see someone loitering in such a location, it is a serious danger sign.

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Tip #2 When entering a "fringe area" glance around to see if anyone is about
This especially means looking behind you. By simply glancing around in certain areas you can reduce your chances of being raped or robbed by 90 percent! It takes no more than two seconds when stepping out of an elevator into a parking structure, walking into a parking lot, when approaching an ATM or stepping onto a train platform to assess if there is potential trouble present.

It lets you see trouble BEFORE it can position itself. If you don’t see anyone, return to your thoughts or the task at hand. You have guaranteed your safety -- with no more than a three-second investment. If someone is present, see if they are engaged in normal activities for that area. In a parking lot, a family walking to their car is engaged in normal activity for that area. In that case, return to what you were doing. However, a shady looking individual loitering against the wall is not acting normally for someone in a parking lot. This is a potentially dangerous situation, but unless he begins to move towards you, you are probably safe. If it is a group of loiterers, steer well clear of them or return to where you came from and request an escort.

If an individual or group of such characters begins to move towards you, leave the area. One of the most common forms of robbery, carjacking and kidnap for rape involves the criminal(s) loitering near the mall entrance and following the victim to her car. By just looking behind you as you enter a parking area, you can prevent this by knowing to circle back to the entrance.

Simply stated, this glance allows you to see what is occurring. Very seldom will the criminal be in perfect position to attack you when you enter an area. He must move into better position to attack you. By glancing around you will see him while he is still in this pre-position and take evasive measures before he gets into attack position. If the criminal can successfully position himself he will attack.

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Tip #3 Do NOT walk through (or pass close to) a pack of loitering 'toughs'
Nearly half of all personal robberies are 'strongarm' robberies. That means a group of teenagers surrounds you and demands money or they will physically assault you.

      Reason: You are literally walking into the lion's jaws. The pack mentality is a baby version of the mob mentality, and that is not good. Numbers give the pack members both safety and anonymity. This makes them far more aggressive than normal. They can attack you with little risk to themselves. While this does not sound as bad as being threatened with a weapon, ten people "stomping" you can and will put you into the hospital for months.

Many strongarm robberies are NOT planned. Unfortunately, they are a result of a golden opportunity falling into the pack's collective lap. This is because someone entering an area where the group is decides not to be intimidated (or decides that they will leave him/her alone) and walks right into the pack's midst.

Unless you are able to casually gouge out another person's eye or pull the trigger with calm disregard to the pain and suffering you are causing, you will NOT be able to bluff a pack. So don't even try to intimidate them or convince them that they would be making a big mistake by "messing" with you. They have the numbers on their side and that means they have more force than you do alone. And if they call your bluff, you will be in some deep trouble.

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Tip # 4 Trust your inner alarms, even if there is no apparent reason. If you don’t like the ‘vibes’ someone is giving off, don’t let that person approach you. Withdraw from the area and return to "the lights and the noise."

Trust your instincts, your unconscious mind has recognized something amiss. If your alarms go off, something set them off, even if you don’t consciously recognize what it is! If something isn’t right, don’t wait to find out exactly what is wrong -- by then it will be to late. Your subconscious is picking up "nonverbal leakage". That is when someone's bodylanguage tells you what is really going on in spite of his words. This part of you recognizes intent.

If you want more proof, watch for him trying to develop the rest of AOI.

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Tip #5 Insist on a buffer of at least five feet against people who set off your internal alarms. In wide open areas fringe areas, make it fifteen. You have the right to tell someone "that's close enough" and it is NOT rude.

     Reason: No stranger has a legitimate reason to approach you closer than five feet. Part of the interview process is to see if you will allow him to develop positioning. Often the criminal’s approach is hidden behind the guise of asking for something (regular interview). Even if you have the item, LIE! You’re out of cigarettes, you don’t have jumper cables, you don’t know where Park street is, etc. This removes his ‘excuse’ to approach. Insist that the person stay away. If he continues to approach, he has announced his intention, and it is not good.

A common ploy at this stage is to challenge you with the question "why you being so rude?" Do NOT fall for this tactic! It is the criminal testing to see if he can intimidate and confuse you! Usually this is said while the criminal is still advancing. As such he is still closing the distance so he can successfully attack you!

The response of "I'm not being rude, but you have no business coming closer" informs him that you are aware what he is trying to accomplish.

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Tip #6 Never be too proud to retreat or to walk wide of someone. If you don’t like a situation, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Most people are victimized not because the criminal is competent, but because they stay in an area where violence could be used against them. Literally, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Don’t think you will intimidate a lion by sticking your head in its jaws. Nor should you worry about showing the criminal that you are afraid. If the criminal can get close to you in a fringe area, he will be able to successfully use violence.

Another reason people fail to remove themselves from danger is almost exclusive to women, and that is they don't want to hurt the criminal's feelings. They don't wish to insult him by indicating that they don't trust him. This is just one of the many downsides of Politically Correct thinking. People who subscribe to this kind of thinking do not wish to offer insult or imply to the criminal that they do not trust him because of racial issues.

There is a difference between being racist and being foolish. That's because there is an even bigger difference between being a violent and dangerous person and being of a certain ethnic origin. Violent and dangerous people come in all colors, races and creeds. Being born into an ethnic group doesn't automatically mean a person is violent. Nor however does it automatically mean that the person isn't violent.

Learn the difference. Once you know the signs of violent, angry people they are easy to spot no matter what race they are.

It makes perfect sense to walk wide of a potentially violent person...and to hell with his feelings. He doesn't care about your feelings as he is robbing you, raping you or assaulting you. And yes, this does require work on your part. It means you must learn the bodylanguage, clothing and behaviors common to violent people. If you don't then you are going to either be paranoid about everybody who is different than you or suicidally foolish about walking into the lions jaws.

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Tip #7 Watch to see who is watching you.
An integral part of a robbery is the "interview" it is during this time that the criminal selects someone and then decides if he can successfully rob that person.

     Reason: Even if you are the most drop-dead gorgeous person on the planet, there are cultural rules as to how long one can acceptably look at you. Too much attention is a danger sign. While many women regularly deal with unwanted attention by looking away and pretending not to notice, this behavior can also set you up for a crime. By turning away from someone, you can also fail to see if he starts approaching you. If someone is paying too much attention, walk wide, but check out of the side of your eye to be sure that he has not decided to follow you.

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Tip #8 Go out of your way to avoid people getting out of cars in parking lots and on the street.
Be careful of cars pulling up next to you and people getting out.

     Reason: Many criminals drive to crime scenes, especially carjackings. One drives, the passenger pops out and robs you. Where is it normal to let someone out in a parking lot? Near the door. Seldom do people get out in the middle of a parking lot. While it is possible that the person being let out is going to his car, what are the chances that it is exactly where you are at the moment? When you see a car door open, cut across a lane. If he follows, he is obviously up to no good.

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Tip # 9 Don't run from danger, run to safety
Firmly entrench the difference in your mind.

     Reason: Many people faunch and worry that showing fear will provoke an attack. On the other hand, many make a far worse mistake by insisting on a "no fear" approach. And in doing so, such people refuse to retreat from a dangerous situation. This is a pendulum swing to the other extreme based on piss poor communication by many so-called "experts" on the subject of self-defense who insist on telling people to walk with confidence as though you are heading somewhere.

Having spent a lifetime dealing with violent criminals I can, as a trained professional, firmly state: Violent criminals are dangerous.

Even with years of training and experience these people pose a threat to me. A threat that if I am not always on the ball when confronting them will result in me being injured or killed. And even if I am on top of it, I run the risk of getting hurt. With that in mind, what kind of threat do they pose to you? The answer is: A far greater one.

This is why you need to understand the difference between running and a strategic withdrawal

If you are blindly running from danger, you WILL provoke chase. And unfortunately, the odds are that your pursuers will catch you. That is because you are just running with no specific goal in mind. The path you take will reflect that. When you run like this, there is no reason for your pursuers NOT to chase you. In fact, there is a good chance in your blind panic that you will run into a better, more isolated area - which will increase your chances of being assaulted and/or raped.

If on the other hand, you look at it as a strategic withdrawal to a better position you are less likely to make such a mistake. The best example of 'running towards safety' is to head to the police station. Run fiercely to the security guard station. With every step you take, the risk to your pursuers increases. Now, chasing you endangers them. Which brings us to the next point.

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Tip #10 Head for the lights and the noise. If someone tries to follow you, get close or is loitering in an ambush area get to an area where there are people.

     Reason: Where you have lights and noise, you have people. Where you have people, you have witnesses and often people who’s job it is to arrest criminals. In a similar vein, if you have a job where you drive home at night, know where the police stations and all-night convenience stores are located. If followed, drive straight to them. Do NOT go home. On foot, go back to an area with people, report the incident and ask for an escort.

Do NOT head for areas of perceived safety that are in facts, traps. These are things that will in fact slow you down, like elevators, stairwells, your car or the door of your home. In parking structures, head for the ramp. In parking lots head back to where you came. In an apartment building the stairs are better than the elevator and anything is better than your door. People are your best source of safety, not things.

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Tip #11 Do NOT allow yourself to be surrounded
There is no danger signal more obvious than being surrounded or criminals "splitting up" as they approach you. If you see this developing LEAVE!

     Reason: Once you are surrounded you are trapped. There is very little you can do to prevent from being assaulted and even if you are a martial arts grandmaster, the odds are that you will be overwhelmed and beaten.

Fortunately, once you know the significance of this behavior it is both easy to spot and easy to avoid. It also sends a serious message to the would be robbers that you are aware of what they need in order to successfully rob you and you are not letting them have it. In that message is also the news that there are easier people to rob. People who will not pose as much of a threat as you do if they insist on cornering you.

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Tip #12 If despite all of this, a criminal still gets the drop on you don’t stand there and argue.
Although this sounds asinine, you would be amazed at how common it is. Simply stated, since most people don't recognize the developing danger, it does literally "jump out of the bushes" to them. Sometimes they stand there in total shock and disbelief (which works well for the mugger, and in fact, usually saves their lives). However, other times the victim's don't accurately assess the threat, nor do they have time to shift out of their normal mindset. And that means they try to stand there and argue as though this were just a rude busboy in a restaurant. There is no better way to get shot.

      Reason: If you go berserk and physically attack, you might survive, but at a cost. If you run you might survive. If your reaction is to verbally assault him though, he will shoot you. You may have an attitude, but he has one too...and a gun. And when looking down the barrel of one, it is no time to argue.

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Tip #13 NEVER allow yourself to be taken to a secondary location
Most muggers only want your money or valuables, if you give them to him without resistance you will often be fine. However, if a mugger tries to force you into a car or take you to another location, all bets are off.

     Reason: Secondary locations are death traps. If you are a woman and you allow yourself to be taken elsewhere the *absolute best* you can hope for is that you will only be raped. Which should tell you how bad it is if being raped is the best that will happen. While there is something like a 3% chance that you won't be raped, assaulted and/or murdered, this is kidnap. And in the eyes of the law, the only crime worse than kidnap is premeditated murder. The law savagely prosecutes kidnappers anyway so there is no reason for the criminal NOT to rape and kill you.

Until you are looking down the barrel of a gun, many other things seem far more important. But when you find yourself staring into the gaping chasm that is a gun's muzzle, you suddenly realize exactly what is, and what is not, important. All of those thoughts, feelings, emotions and confidence that lead you into the trap, suddenly seem very small in comparison to just staying alive.

This is why you must reprioritize many of the issues that will lead you into dangerous situations.

It is a sad truth that most people who are robbed, didn't have to be. A significant majority of personal robberies could have been easily avoided -- had the person taken these simple, non-violent steps. But if the person - for whatever reasons- decides to ignore these basic crime avoidance tips, then he or she is going to walk right into the lion's jaws.

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