How To Make Yourself A Crime Free Zone

The way you dress, walk and behave can determine whether or not you become a victim of crime.
     In an experiment conducted in New York, a hidden video camera was used to film a wide variety of men and women walking down the same street.
     The film was then shown to groups of convicted muggers.
     Every one of the muggers agreed on which people they would choose to attack.
     They did not select individuals by age, race, sex or looks.
     It was the way that people walked and moved and behaved that decided their fate.
     So, if you want to reduce your chances of being mugged or attacked here are ten things that you should remember.

1. Muggers are quickly influenced by superficial appearances. First of all they always choose to attack people who look as though they might be worth attacking. If you have to dress up in smart evening clothes and then walk through a rough area put an old coat on top - try to look as much of a mess as you can. If you have to drive and then park your car in streets where muggings regularly take place don't clean it. Muggers are attracted to shiny, brand new cars.

2. If you're walking alone in a new area where you feel vulnerable and frightened try waving occasionally as though you have seen a friend or a relative. Say `hello' to shopkeepers or wave cheerily to people hanging out of apartment buildings. Muggers much prefer victims who are lonely as well as alone.

3. Walk tall. Try to look as big and as broad as you can. Stick out your chest, push back your shoulders and hold your head up high. Muggers are usually cowards - they invariably prefer to attack people who look weak. Don't shuffle along with your head down. And walk at a good pace. Muggers usually go for people who walk slowly. If you travel fast there is a good chance that you will be out of range before the mugger has decided what to do.

4. If you see someone who looks like a potential mugger don't look at him. Muggers often lack self-confidence and have tremendous chips on their shoulders. If you look at a would-be mugger he will consider it a challenge and he will feel that he has to respond. If you have to pass a group of potential muggers try to walk past as though you haven't seen them. Don't respond and don't allow yourself to be tricked into making any comment - whatever you say will probably be used as an excuse for a physical attack.

5. Take special care at vulnerable moments. If you are walking through a dark or dodgy neighbourhood walk in the centre of the road - away from any possible ambush. Take special care when crossing roads, getting out of or into a car or coming out of your home. It is at those times - when you are concentrating hard on what you are doing - that you are particularly vulnerable to muggers and attackers.

6. Always try to look relaxed and at ease. If you are walking tensely or nervously through a dangerous district then you will attract muggers like a jam pot attracts wasps. Try to look cool and confident and unconcerned - however you may feel inside - and the muggers will probably give you a miss.

7. If you are approached by someone who looks like a potential mugger don't stop to fight or to argue. Even trained self-defence experts always say that the best form of self-defence is to run away. So run away as fast you can and make as much noise as you possibly can. Shout and scream as loud as you are able. If you can't run then act crazy. Muggers don't like 'nutters' - they are too unpredictable. Try talking to yourself - very loudly - as you walk. Or chat away to walls and lampposts.

8. However frightened you are try not to show it. If you show that you are afraid then your would-be assailant will feel stronger and more powerful. He will be more - not less - likely to hit you. Remember that muggers and people who commit violent crimes are usually cowardly. But try, too, to show him that you are not a threat to him. Try to keep your voice calm and relaxed. Try to look cool and relaxed. If you threaten him - or push him into a corner - then he may become more aggressive, particularly if he has friends around who he thinks he has to impress.

9. Try to get a would-be assailant to sit down. People are always less aggressive and less likely to become violent when they are sitting than when they are standing. Encourage him to talk to you - it doesn't matter what you talk about. If he obviously feels angry about some injustice then encourage him to tell you about it. Let him get his gripes off his chest. Listen and offer encouragement. Nod your head to show that you are listening attentively. If you show that you are sympathetic he will be less likely to be violent to you. If he will listen to you then offer him advice and suggestions about ways in which he may be able to deal with his problem. He is probably lonely and frightened. Be his friend - for the time being at any rate. If you offer him alternatives - and hope - he will be less likely to harm you. But never threaten or command. He probably hates figures of authority. Talk in a gentle voice. Be friendly rather than bossy or arrogant. And don't make the mistake of trying to win him over by making aggressive statements of your own - you may annoy him.

10. Use body language to make him feel comfortable. When you are talking open your hands towards him - that simple gesture will help to make him feel more comfortable and more relaxed. Don't look him straight in the eye and never try to stare a would-be mugger down. You will make him feel uncomfortable and threatened if you do. Look at his face or chest but keep your eyes away from his eyes. Try not to show any emotion; try to keep your muscles relaxed. If you become tense then he will become tense. If you stay relaxed then he will probably stay relaxed. If you are both standing (and you haven't managed to get him to sit down) try to keep slightly more than an arms length between the two of you. It is vital that you don't threaten him or make him feel uncomfortable or trapped. Wild animals and human assailants behave in much the same way - wild animals are much more aggressive and dangerous when they are trapped. Your aim must always be to relax your would-be assailant.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003