Are you a mugger’s dream target?

A fear of being mugged is common when travelling. So, it’s good to know how to avoid such an experience – and who better to teach that lesson than an ex-mugger?

Investigative reporter Jeff Rossen recently conducted an interview with David Solano – a career criminal who’s mugged more than 100 people. Mr Solano is serving 25 years in prison and, to help change his ways, has decided to try a help people avoid being mugged.

Here are his tips, in a nutshell:

  1. Don’t wear a watch that’s visible.
  2. If you’re asked for the time or directions, don’t stop – tell them as you’re walking. When you stop and look down at your watch or phone, it (a) shows them you have a watch or phone and (b) makes you more vulnerable and an easier target.
  3. Muggers are more likely to target people who are least likely to resist.
  4. Make loud noises. Muggers will target men over women because women are more likely to scream and bring attention to the act.
  5. Stand in a group of people, especially at train stations or subways. Try to stay near other passengers rather than off to the side alone.
  6. When getting out of a car, look out the windows on all sides so you’re aware of what’s around you. This will make it more difficult for a mugger to sneak up on you.
  7. Take extra care on Fridays as, according to Mr Solano, this is the day that people are the most ‘cashed up’.
  8. Unless you are a really good fighter (i.e: black belt in karate), don’t fight a mugger – it will only put you in more danger. Just give up your goods. You can replace your money, watch or phone but you can’t replace your life.

So, there you have it. Keep these points in mind the next time you find yourself in a strange neighbourhood and, chances are, you’ll be more likely to get through your holiday with your money in your pocket and your rings on your fingers.

Have you ever been mugged? How did you handle it? What advice would you share with our members?

Also read: Seven tips for safer travel


  1. Fortunately never been mugged but, as a retired taxi driver, I’ve had my share of fare evaders and fence jumpers.
    One idiot ordered a cab by phone, I picked him up and took him to his destination. The old excuse, ‘I’ll just go in and get some money’ (red flag everytime). So, I like to trust people, I wait.

    98% of the time the customers comes out and pays but not this idiot. I notified the base, the police were called, the guy was charged and I got paid. All for a $7 fare.

  2. I lived and worked in Eastern Europe for many years and I can add several more traps to David Solano’s list from personal observation, experience and talking to consulate staf
    Pick-pocketing in various forms is a major hazard.
    Australians are at particular risk because we haven’t generally experienced this sort of crime and ‘helicopter parented” young people who have never needed to catch a bus in their own country are I’ll prepared when they venture overseas. Some westerners also stand out because of their style of dress and loud voices (people bought up under Communism speak in hushed tones) If you wear board shorts, a T-shirt and thongs in Warsaw, Sophia or Prague you will stand out.

    If you trust it, leave your passport and valuables in the hotel safe. Take only what cash you need , a debit card with limited credit, a copy of your passport and driving licence for ID.

    Be aware if standing in a group watching a street performer, it’s a prime pick pocketing target.
    Pick-pockets often work in pairs, a trusty old man who does the deed and a fast running youth.
    Be aware of men with a jacket slung over one shoulder. It hides what their hand doing.
    Watch out for cyclist on or near footpaths. Stand aside, protect bags and watch them in the eyes until they pass.
    If walking as a couple, keep bags in front or between you and don’t let anyone come between you.
    If you are befriended sitting at an outside cafe, don’t ask them to mind your bag while you take a photo of the square, you will return to an empty table.
    Read your map or guide in your hotel room so you don’t look like a lost foreigner on the street corner.
    Public transport is a target. Thieves will grab just as the bus, metro or train stops and be off into the crowd as your transport moves on.
    If you need to stand on public transport, try to have a wall or divider to your back and scan people near to you.
    Unless you are in a lockable sleeping compartment, don’t fall asleep on trains.

    The vast majority of people are very kind and honest but when poverty meets opportunity someone looses.

  3. Simple but effective in countries where large numbers of people travel on motorbikes (eg, Africa, Asia, etc) is to wear single-strap shoulder bags on the side facing away from traffic when you’re walking along a pavement or side of the road, with your hand on the bag – then motorbike thieves can’t just lean over and grab the bag as they’re passing. Better still, if the weather’s cool enough to wear a jacket, put the bag strap over your shoulder first and then wear the jacket over it. Even better is to avoid single-strap shoulder bags and wear double strap backpacks – always slung over the chest rather than the back whenever possible. And try not to carry valuables in bags anyway – they attract thieves like fly paper!

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