In a famous and oft-cited criminology study (Grayson & Stein) published in 1981, a group of criminals convicted of assault reviewed a videotape of 60 randomly selected people walking down the street in New York City and were asked to evaluate how likely they would be to target these individuals. Amazingly, without any consultation whatsoever, they all picked the same people. Unfortunately, the world isn’t any safer from such criminals in our day and age, but the silver lining here is that with these learnings on criminal thinking, we can know how to avoid getting mugged.
While most cities around the country are safe, we may occasionally find ourselves vacationing in an area with higher crime rates or visiting more dangerous parts of town. This makes it vital to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Keep reading to learn more about how to avoid being a target and stay safe just in case you run into danger.
Avoid Being Targeted by Muggers
One puzzling thing about muggings is that they are called muggings, a word that may come across as euphemistic and doesn’t paint a full picture. Getting mugged isn’t merely unpleasant; it can be and frequently is a violent attack perpetrated by one or more vicious people upon innocent victims. So, what can we learn about the Grayson and Stein study that can help us not be mugged?
First, if you look like food you will be eaten. In this concept, dangerous criminals are not much different than a pride of lions checking out a herd of zebras and looking for the weakest link. What do they look for?
A shuffling gait
Arms swinging oddly
Not looking around
Walking rapidly or too slow
Bottom line: Easy prey do not look like other zebras. You need to fit in more because there is strength in numbers. Walking upright, naturally, and at a normal pace will help you avoid standing out and being targeted.
How to Avoid Getting Mugged: 8 Safety Tips
Here are some other tips to avoid being mugged:
Avoid staying out late: Being a violent bad guy is mostly second or third shift work. Like skunks, bad guys love the dark.
Avoid commonly targeted areas: You’re most likely to get mugged in areas where people tend to carry cash, including shopping malls, train stations, and ATMs, so take proper precautions and avoid being alone in these places. If possible, avoid sketchy parts of town. Places serving adult beverages do not consider your safety outside their establishment. Keep in mind that if you depart intoxicated even to a small degree, you risk being the weak zebra.
Avoid being alone: Travel and arrive with friends, stay with them, and leave with them at the end of the night.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes: To a lion, even an attractive zebra is still just a zebra. When dressing up, make sure to wear a comfortable outfit you could fight in if it comes to that, and wear shoes that you can run in.
Stay in shape: Most attackers are young and have been in many more fights than your average martial arts instructor. You do not have to beat them in a fight, just survive long enough to run away or get help. By getting regular exercise you can ensure you have the stamina and strength to get the upper hand and flee to safety.
Get self-defense training: Consider taking a class in self-defense, especially one that emphasizes actual fighting — for example, boxing, Combat Hapkido, Krav Maga. Keep in mind that in the event of a real-life attack, you’re more likely to use simple, practical moves, so emphasize these in your training.
Be situationally aware: Like a tourist, keep your attention focused outward, make eye contact with others, look at your reflection in store windows to see if you’re being followed, and sit with your back to the wall in restaurants. Also, watch people’s hands; it’s the hands that kill, as not many can shoot a pistol accurately with their feet.
Carry protection: Weapons have their advantages and disadvantages, but equipping yourself with the right one can save your life. Knives and handguns can be fatal but require much training and practice. Consider arming yourself instead with the MUNIO Self Defense Keychain, which is easy to carry and unlike most safety keychains is legal and can be taken on an airplane. The MUNIO can stab like a knife, strike like an impact tool, and even slash if it is used in a flailing motion across the assailant’s eyes. The MUNIO can strike an attacker and inflict enough pain and damage to disable them so you can get away safely.
What Scares Muggers?
In the event that you find yourself confronted by a mugger, the following steps will help you scare away or disarm your attacker so you can get away:
Screaming and yelling: If you’re in a public place, yelling for help will throw off a mugger.
Using a self-defense weapon: Suddenly whipping your attacker with your keychain or slashing or stabbing them with your MUNIO will take your attacker by surprise so you can run away.
This being said, protecting your personal property isn’t worth your life. If you’re being threatened with a lethal weapon, hand over your purse or wallet, or whatever it is the mugger wants, and keep yourself safe.
Prevent Getting Mugged with Self-Defense
The number-one rule of self-defense is prevention. The best way you stay safe is to avoid danger in the first place. Failing that, being prepared is key. You don’t have to be a helpless zebra. We know the mind is the most powerful weapon; use it to think about the unthinkable. Follow the tips above to make sure you have a plan in place that will keep you safe.
Looking for more self-defense tips?
Watch our free 10-video series, “Simple Self-Defense Moves Everyone Should Know.”
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About the Author
Dr. Art Amann is an instructor in both Karate and Kung Fu, with over forty years of experience in the martial arts. He has a doctorate in education and has spent close to 20 years as an instructor and director of the Police Academy and the Public Safety Institute at Mercyhurst University. He is also the former Erie County Prison warden and chief adult probation/parole officer with a lot of experience to share from it. He is a Certified instructor for the MUNIO Self Defense Workshops, a PA Act 120 Academic Instructor, PA Act 235 Classroom and Defensive Tactics Instructor, PA Municipal Police Defensive Tactics Instructor, NRA Basic Pistol Instructor, and Pressure Point Control Tactics Instructor.