Most of us like to think that we’re pretty savvy when it comes to avoiding the less desirable elements out there.
I’m talking about the people out to pick our pockets or worse – but the truth is, most of us are probably at least a little bit unprepared for what it would be like to have something happen.
Preparation is key, and so are these tips – they’re a great place to start, or good reminders even if you’re feeling confident, so give them a whirl!
1. Face forward.
Never turn your back to someone who you don’t trust or is aggressive. YouTube is full of videos of people getting sucker punched from behind.
2. Trust your gut.
trust your gut instinct, if your gut is telling you somethings off then treat it as such – a really good book about this is “the gift of fear” by Gavin de Becker
3. Slippery when wet.
The most dangerous time to drive is right when it starts raining, cause any oil on the street has mixed with the water, making it slippery, but hasn’t had enough time to wash away yet.
4. No such thing as a coincidence.
Coincidences are rarely that. Pay attention to people’s hands. They will give you a split second heads up to ill intent. Watch your f-ing back.
Also watch their left foot. Most people are right handed. If they inch their left foot closer to you they are setting up to take a swing.
5. Or just don’t?
This is a niche tip, but if you ever suspect something to have an electric current, do not touch it with the palm side of your hand. It can cause your muscles to contract and not let go. Always use the backside of your hand or even better, use a blade of grass or something not too conductive.
If there is downed powerlines or some other high voltage source on the ground: don’t walk away, don’t run but edit: look above. There can be a potential gradient on the ground, you are just fine where standing feet close to each other but taking a step may cause the feet to be at different potential. This may cause current to travel thru our legs. The worst solution is to go on all fours as that will cause the current to go thru our body which is much, much worse. If you are in a car with powerlines on top; don’t step out unless there is a risk of fire. Jump out, don’t step out.
Also, be aware of chainlink fencing etc long metal objects. You can in theory get shocked miles away. Electricity does not follow paths that are intuitive to us.
6. If you have to fight…
And most untrained right handed fighters will instinctively try to hit you with a right cross or hook, very rarely a left jab.
Conversely, you can rock people’s sh%t with an unexpected left jab.
PLEASE DO NOT FIGHT ON CONCRETE IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TO. A little fight can turn into manslaughter charges real quick when a head meets concrete.
7. An excellent life rule.
Don’t f*ck with people.
Even the skinniest, nerdiest Steve Urkle lookin motherf*cker might be crazy with a knife under his sleeve, might stab you soon as you turn around.
But don’t be scared of people either. Mutual respect.
8. Never go to the secondary location.
If you’re being attacked and someone is trying to get you into a vehicle to take you to a secondary location, fight as much as you possibly can to not get in the vehicle.
If they kill you while fighting it will be quick and your murder will be easier to solve, but if they take you to a second location they can keep you alive as long as they want doing whatever they want to you and your disappearance will be much much harder to solve.
Better to go down swinging and make it easy to catch your attackers than end up tortured for God knows how long.
9. A small test.
My friend came round after I had dropped a fiver on the floor on the way in.
I went to change came back and she said ‘you dropped a fiver on the way in. I’ve put it in your wallet and put it on the table for you.’
Lo and behold wallet on table with all my cash in it. Nothing even looked like it’d been moved.
Needless to say on nights out where I feel too drunk to realize if I may lose my wallet. It goes in her bag. If I wander off and make it home she’s not gonna touch it until she’s giving it back to me.
10. A few words to the wise.
As someone who grew up in some tough parts of the Bronx and Yonkers in New York City, and has been around Queens as well, my biggest tip would be….. Nvm, this needs a list.
• Walk like you know where you going. If you look like an easy target, chances are folks around you are thinking the same thing. Most bad areas are infested with poverty stricken people looking for an easy come up.
• If you ever hear a door slam shut, followed by “AYO HE RIGHT THERE, THAT’S HIM” Run for your life. Even if you did nothing. People die from strays and misidentified targets regularly.
• If a stranger compliments you on your new kicks, or says something along the lines of “What size you wear? insert size. Word? those is my size too.” do not entertain this conversation. Keep it short & sweet, and the first chance you get, check your surroundings. This usually is him essentially implying he is about to book your sneakers. If he is smart, he will usually have people waiting for you on your other side, or if you are on the train, he will have goons posted up at the nearest stop knowing you will probably try to dip.
• KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL, NEVER GET CAUGHT SLEEPING So many lives could have been saved had the victims had a little more environmental awareness or street smarts, most notably 15-Year Old “Junior”. , who grew up around where I spent most of my time as a kid and as a teenager. Not to be a dickhead but had he had a little more street smarts and recognized the setup beforehand, he would have known to not come out.
• Please don’t buy anything from anyone who is trying to bargain with you on the block or corner. Whatever the shit is expect it to have poor quality and it was probably illegally obtained
• If you feel unsafe with a chain on, tuck your chain and any other jewelry
• Lock your car doors, Mfs WILL key your shit if they notice you leave it unlocked every day.
• Do not engage with anyone who isn’t there alone. Mfs will Jump in and stomp ya ass with big ass timberland boots.
• Lastly, walk with confidence. Look confident, not cocky. Cockiness can and will get you killed depending on where you at.
11. Because, zombies.
Not me but one of my employees. We dress casually on Fridays and call it “flip flop Friday.” He never participates.
I asked him why and he said “I can’t run in flip flops. You ALWAYS have to be ready to run.”
12. Some people are so literal.
There are 146 street suffixes acknowledged by the U.S. Postal Service. Alphabetically, the first is “alley” and the last is “yard”.
These are also bad places to duck into if you’re being followed, because there’s only one exit.
13. That kid had seen some things.
I had a friend years ago who, when a car approached to ask for directions, she slowly removed her sandals as she answered. When the car drive away I asked why she did that.
She said that you can’t run in flip flops, and that although it would hurt, it’s easier to run barefoot. She warned me to always be prepared to run whenever necessary. We were maybe 12 when she said that
14. No one wants that.
Ear buds or head phones signal that you’re not aware of your surroundings. Staring at your phone indicates the same. Make you an easy target.
15. Don’t look lost.
Always tell my kids to walk with a purpose.
16. Silence is underrated.
Don’t talk if you don’t need to.
It’s so hard sometimes but the right thing to say in so many situations is nothing.
17. Assume the worst.
Don’t hug the walls, walk a bit towards the center especially near corners.
Keep your ears open, notice things. Footsteps, shuffling, metal clanging, anything.
Basically be aware of your surroundings and anticipate critical situations.
18. Get that hard expression down.
Look like you’ll fight back.
Not so much that it looks like you’re issuing a challenge, but just so that anyone looking to get the twenty bucks in your wallet will wonder whether it’s worth the effort.
The not issuing a challenge thing is important. Because people looking for a fight will go for you, and you end up looking like your in fight or flight mode in a fish out of water way.
You don’t want to look naive, but you don’t want to look concerned either. Just another day for you
19. Don’t ignore your instincts.
Situational awareness. Look up the OODA loop and learn it.
Notice who stands out, who looks out of place. If you get a bad feeling about a situation or person DO NOT ignore it.
Know your exits. Even if you have a weapon yourself, getting out without having to fight is best.
20. Protect your skin!
Buy a daily moisturizer with sunscreen in it.
21. Know your exits.
Especially the exits and gut feeling thing. Our brains subconsciously pick up on things that we don’t really acknowledge or know in the moment, so that gut feeling that you should leave is most likely correct because of the little details that are causing you to feel that way.
Also, know not just the main exit, but other exits that are less obvious. You won’t have to fight through a crowd and will get out faster and easier.
22. That’s knowledge everyone needs.
Security guards, doormen, food cart owners, and blue collars in general, know where the closest bathrooms are.
23. Keep a cool head.
Here’s some more details I’ve learned from my tactical self defense program. OODA loop: observe, orient, decide act. Notice something?
Look at it, decide if you should get involved, then act on that decision. Cooper color code: white is not paying any attention, yellow, aware but relaxed, the ideal situation. Orange is the beginning of the ooda loop. You noticed something and it has your attention. Red you have decided to get involved, black and you’re too in shock to react to anything.
Then the reflex four: visual pat down checks if someone looks anxious or threatening, is wearing the wrong clothes like a long coat in July, weird bulges in clothing, actually showing a weapon on them, etc. exits means knowing where you can get out, whether is be a main exit, emergency or window. Also scanning your area for force multipliers, which are any item you can pick up and throw or hit with, or can shove an aggressor into.
At a restaurant these might be plates, glasses, utensils, a menu, the leg of a chair, a corner or table. Finally, if you see something concerning, look for accomplices/sympathizers. These would be people who came in together or make frequent eye contact, are dressed similarly, or standing together.
It seems like a lot but basically it’s making an effort to be like Shawn Spencer from Psych, and pay attention to the details around you.
24. It’s a little thing.
If you are a woman and have a handbag with a zipper, make sure the opening end is towards the front (where you can keep an eye on it).
This prevents someone walking behind you from opening your handbag and taking your wallet/anything valuable.
25. Not down at your phone.
When walking always look up.
They never do this in the movies, and that’s where the zombie spider which from Mukilteo is hiding, right above you.
26. They’re your things, after all.
Other bag/pickpocket related tips:
If you’re waiting for a train or bus, try to stand with your back against a wall so no one can sneak up behind you. Especially a good idea if you’re wearing a backpack.
If you have a cross-body or shoulder bag, keep it in front of you. I know it’s more comfortable to push it behind your arm or let it rest on the back of your hip, but it’s super easy for someone to take something from it without you noticing if it’s not in your field of vision.
27. Not good for my audiobook habit.
DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES!!!
You make yourself an easy target by making it so even the most clod footed mugger can sneak up on you.
28. Don’t just hand over your phone.
If you are a tourist and want a local to take a pic of you with your phone either have it be an employee or someone you can outrun.
Wear one headphone so you can still hear whats around you
29. Protect your valuables.
People make pickpockets’ livelihood so easy. Just check out how many phones are in people’s back pockets, how many handbags dangle by the side, easily accessible.
Always put valuables in an inside, preferably zipped pocket. If you in a notorious pickpocket area like Paris or Naples, you can even carry a fake wallet with monopoly money in an outside pocket.
30. Many things can double as mirrors.
I use windows/reflections to check who is behind me.
Looking at a shop window while I walk is innocuous enough, but it allows me to check if someone is still behind me without me turning around.
31. Public toilets can be hard to find.
Hotel lobbies are great places to use the restroom. They are usually clean, safe, and hardly ever occupied as most guests will go up to their own room instead of using the public location.
On a side note, I’ve found it’s best not to go to reception and ask if you can use the toilet because they sometimes say no. Just walk in like you’re staying there and know where you’re going and follow the signs for the toilet
32. Follow the mothers.
If I’m in an unfamiliar city, I’ll explore freely every neighborhood as long as there are women and kids around. Most mums don’t hang outside with their kids if the street/area is unsafe.
This worked very well for most throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia.
33. Always pay attention.
Basically, just be aware of your surroundings. A lack of situational awareness can lead to some bad things.
Use windows as mirrors to see your blind spots or check behind you. Know where the public places you pass by are, like grocery stores or convenience stores.
Listen close to your own footsteps, and know that sound. This way, you’ll be able to hear other footsteps behind or around you and pick up sounds easier.
Never wear headphones or earbuds and never look distracted by your phone or something else. This is all to help you with situational awareness.
34. Keep your friends close…
If you want to know if you can trust somebody you let in your home, leave a $5 bill in a place that looks like it was forgotten about and that they would see it.
If they’ll take you for $5 now, they’ll take you for more later.
35. Don’t worry about people’s feelings.
I am a 60 something female who travels extensively alone for work. I have had a few close calls but my rule is I don’t worry about offending someone that approaches me if there aren’t others around.
I will cross the street, head for an open establishment, get away. Panhandlers, do you have a cigarette guys, don’t let them get close to you if there’s no one around. I keep my keys in my hand and say if you come any closer I’m going to push this alarm.
I was heading for the airport early in the morning with luggage and a creepy guy drives by asks if I need a ride, I say no, he goes down to turn around and is coming back. I saw a restaurant worker down the next block having a smoke so I yelled to him. Hey I might need some help here and he ran down to stare the guy down.
I don’t hesitate to ask a security guard to walk me to my car. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be aware of your surroundings!
Definitely going to keep these in mind the next time I’m wandering about alone.
What’s your favorite “street smarts” tip? Drop it in the comments!