Monday, August 7, 2006

Getting robbed: a primer

Hi Crimesters, I'm back from France for at least a little while to take care of some business at home.

First of all, dear 'Non, here's some tips about what to do if when you get robbed, and I hope readers will chime in with other helpful suggestions.

  • Right this minute, write down all of your credit card numbers (and customer-service phone numbers) somewhere and keep the list in your house, this will make your life much easier after, especially if you get robbed on the weekend. It's also sensible to get a passport and keep that at home so if you lose your license it'll be easier to replace (and in the meantime you'll be able to get into bars and flee the country if necessary). And don't carry checks. If your checkbook gets stolen you have to close out your account and open a new one and that is a huge, huge asspain.

  • Get yourself one of those magnet keyboxes that go under the car or wheel well, and keep one housekey and one car key in it so you won't get stranded. (Sounds risky but isn't-- crackheads are smash-and-grabbers and do not have the patience to grope around your wheel wells.)

  • Don't stop for anyone on the sidewalk. It's common practice for someone to distract you by asking for the time or a cigarette, then rob you. For walking around downtown, wearing headphones (with the sound turned down low) makes it easier to ignore people trying to distract you. Stay alert and confident-looking and be wary of people walkng in your blind spots. If you think someone in your proximity is acting sketchy, don't hesitate to turn around fully and look them squarely up and down and in the face.

  • When you get accosted, first of all, relax, imagine you're dough. Obviously, don't resist-- people get shot that way. You want to project calm, because any panic will increase the robber's stress, and stressed-out robbers are the ones who shoot people. Don't look at the weapon. Take your wallet or purse and gently toss it away from you in the robber's general direction, turn your pockets inside out of you have any. For extra fun, carry a wad of singles in your pocket and fling them into the air like confetti so the robber will be scrambling around on the ground a la "Diving for Dollars."

  • A possible execption to the "no resistance" rule: if someone holds a gun to you and tells you to get in a car (especially if you're female and get the perv vibe) it may a better bet to say, "no, shoot me here," and take the chance that they'll get flustered and look for an easier target.

  • Don't fall for the bump-and-jump. If a car bumps your bumper, just keep driving and write down their license number if you can. Remember Carl Schoettler?

  • At home, get some of them motion-activated lights for your front and back walks. And don't open the door to strangers. There are probably more scam artists in operation around town than robbers anyway-- people coming door-to-door to sell you nonexistent candy, solicit donations for pretend political groups, spin you some yarn about a grandma who needs money for dialysis or yap about their bozo religion. So just leave that door shut!

Any other tips, readers?


johnny dollar said...

i hear you about the bump and jump, but isn't it illegal to leave the scene of an accident without taking care of business? if so, you're sugegsting it's worth being safe? in that case, what areas or circumstances would you suggest warrant leaving without getting out? just curious. thanks!

Maurice Bradbury said...

It may be a misdimeanor to leave the scene but if someone rear-ends your car then it's their fault, so I doubt they'd complain, you know?

When would I personally leave without getting out?
I would probably check them out in the rearview and if I was alone downtown or in a desolate area I would not get out of that car for a million bucks.

Si Fitz said...

I feel you on the self-protection and security tip. Nevertheless, I am often disturbed by "Shut your mouth and don't trust anybody" vibe that living in a violent city can cause.

I was walking on Fayette St. at Park Ave. after work one day and came upon a man wearing fairly nice clothes passed out on the sidewalk with foamy spit in his mouth.

There were people standing around and walking by, all ignoring him. I gently kicked his foot (good way to check responsiveness of passed out people you don't know/trust) and spoke loudly at him, asking his name or something like that.

I asked some folks standing around how long he had been passed out, nobody knew or wanted to tell me. No one had even called an ambulance yet, who knows how long he was out, if he had gotten jumped, if he had had a seizure or fainted.

As long as we remained so paranoid, nothing is going to improve, but we are going to stay paranoid as long as our lives depend on it. O well, at least we don't live in Tyre, Baghdad or Beirut.

Maurice Bradbury said...

... it depends on who you are. If you're Mark Beckwith it's one thing, if you're a small young lady or fossilzed Sun reporter that's a different situation.

Maurice Bradbury said...

People get paranoid by not being able to discern the difference between what (or who) is a real threat and what isn't. Every Baltimorean should read Gavin DeBecker's most excellent The Gift of Fear. It's right on, and it'll make you feel a lot better.

Anonymous said...

Tyre, Baghdad, Beirut???

Oh, you mean our sister cities, kinda like Detroit.

Si, I feel you about becoming jaded. I guess I subscribe to the view that God (or Darwin, if you prefer) gave us eyes to observe with. I trust very much in common sense, recognizing that such is dependent upon one's experience.

As bump and jump, one good solution if you really want to do the right thing, is to use the omnipresent cellphone to call an officer to the scene before you open that door. Kinda gotta hope the other party doesn't hold a gun up to your window, though.

Anonymous said...

I've felt less safe in Richmond VA in the supposedly habitable parts when it was in it's heyday (murder capital) than in Baltimore. But I've only been here for 6 yrs.

Unknown said...

If you haven't written down your credit card account and cust svc numbers, the easiest way to make all your phone calls once you're robbed is to go thru your last month's bills.
The acct # and 800 # will be on each of them.
Bitter experience.

Anonymous said...

Baloney. I will whip out my stainless 2-shot .410 derringer from my sleeve and discharge two slugs directly into the perps face.

I refuse to be a victim! And so should you.

Get trained, and get armed, and crime drops.