Private Investigations and Personal Security/Set-up Mugging


Hi Mr. Marc, I have a question about an incident that occurred to me recently:

As a background to this question, I'm a twenty-something average sized-guy, with a build on the slim side.

A few days ago- after dark- I was walking down a fairly nice street in my neighborhood, on my way to a friend's house. I was dressed scruffy, (on purpose, for crime-prevention) and was openly carrying an umbrella (on purpose, for crime prevention) I was walking in what I consider to be a confident manner, head up etc.

After a while I noticed two guys in the distance, who were walking down the same sidewalk as I was, towards me. They didn't look that unusual, one taller than me, one shorter. One had a cap, one had his jacket hood up... But it was a wet, cold night so I didn't think that was a signpost or anything. Something about the taller guy- maybe his posture or the way he walked- bothered me briefly, but they weren't taking up the whole sidewalk and didn't seem to be staring at me, so I judged that we'd pass each other without incident. I switched my umbrella to my left hand, away from them, in case I'd have to use it.

We passed each other, and just as they passed me on my right I relaxed slightly... and the taller guy- real fast- grabbed my right sleeve near the elbow and yanked me off-balance. He was covering my back in the next second, and the smaller guy was a foot away from my left/front corner... with a small firearm pointing at me. They demanded money and valuables, so I told them that I had a few bucks in change and that was IT. (I actually had larger bills and a credit card concealed about my person.)

The smaller guy with the gun seemed a little agitated, less experienced. He wandered in and pressed the muzzle to my temple a couple of times... long enough for me to make an educated guess that the piece was a replica, but I wasn't sure. I briefly considered going for it, but I was worried that the taller guy covering my right/back would shank me before I could control the little guy. I didn't know what weapons he had, obviously.

When the larger guy patted my pockets and realised I wasn't carrying any valuables, he demanded my spare change- which I gave him- and then, with several noises of disappointment which even in my slightly stunned state I found amusing, they wandered off. I backed away, tried to see what direction they went off in, and then moved onwards to my friend's house.

I was fairly happy with the outcome at the time, having fooled them and kept everything, including my life. I was happy that I hadn't crapped my pants too. But now I've become pretty depressed that I was in that situation at all. (Some PTSD too.) I was just LUCKY they weren't insane murderers out to cut up a skinny white-boy like myself. I don't like being lucky. Well, I do, but you know what I mean.

My question(s) is this: How can one avoid being grabbed from the side/behind when passing someone on the street without staring at people so long that they think you want to fight them? Should I have crossed the street before reaching them? Did I misread their threat-level? Should I have attacked immediately upon the grab? Should I have attacked at all?

Basically, what mistakes did I make, and what can one do better in a situation like that?

Thanks in advance.

Well first off the fact that you are still alive proves that any "mistakes" you think you made weren't that bad. You basically got nailed by a couple of guys who had done this before. Yeah the younger guy was agitated, but the older dude's experience won out.  Once they've decided to move, it's really hard to effectively counter an experienced robbery like this was.

As you surmized there was a serious chance of you getting hurt if you hadtried to ineffectively resist after the trap had been sprung.

Pretty much, your major mistake was in not crossing the street. I am assuming that it was pretty deserted from your descrpition, so them crossing to continue to meet you would have been a serious tip off. In deserted situations it is always advisable to keep as much distance between you and others as possible.

You came out of it alive and unscathed, that is a success in this biz. Don't start playing head games with yourself about how you shoulda done this, shoulda done'll drive yourself nuts.

You now know beyond a shadow of a doubt why you don't want to let people get close to you in lonely dark places

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