Updated 25 February 2014

How to handle getting mugged

Pickpockets and muggers could be anywhere, so you really need to be alert. Here's what to do if you get mugged - and want to live to tell the tale.

There you are, innocently walking down the road with your shopping and suddenly someone bumps into you and two minutes later you realise your wallet’s gone.

Or you’re suddenly surrounded by three people who want your cash, your cellphone, your glasses – and they’re not open for negotiation.Violent muggings seem to be on the increase as robbers get more brazen and sometimes more desperate.

No one knows when they will be mugged. The surprise element plays quite a big role in these situations - especially if it happens in broad daylight in an area you thought was safe. It's one thing finding yourself, for whatever reason, in a dark and dodgy area, and quite another being mugged as you emerge from the supermarket at midday.

Read more: Paranoia common after mugging

So what on earth can you do if you are mugged? And more importantly, how can you escape unharmed?

  • Keep your wits about you and don’t just do the things which come instinctively, such as screaming and fighting back. It might make the situation worse, especially if the robbers are armed. Think twice about shouting for help, especially if there are no people nearby. Your shouting may just encourage the muggers to silence you – forever.
  • Co-operate with the robbers’ instructions. Resistance might just get you a knife between the ribs.
  • If you know martial arts, assess the situation carefully before you go on the attack yourself. If your attackers have guns, it is wise not to take them on in combat. Most importantly, don’t try something you’ve seen in the wrestling programmes – they’re all choreographed. And your mugging is not. Stay calm and do what you’re asked.
  • Don’t look the assailants in the face – it might make them think you are trying to remember what they look like for later identification. This might make them want to silence you.
  • Call the police as soon as the muggers have left the scene. Check whether you have any injuries – your safety is always more important than any possessions you may be carrying. Remember that when you are attacked, you are pumping adrenalin, which could mean that you don’t feel injuries. So get to a doctor as soon as you can. Your safety and well-being are more important than the immediate apprehension of the attackers.
  • Remember to cancel cards and cheques that might have been stolen. If you had house keys on you, as well as something that indicated your home address, such as a telephone account, you might have to change all your locks. Electronic car keys, especially the older sort, can lead your muggers to your car – all they have to do is stand in the parking lot, press the opener and see which car beeps and flashes. Take steps to immobilise your car if at all possible.
(Health24, updated February 2014)

Read more: Men respond more aggressively to stress than women



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