Ex-mugger tells all: who they target and how they do it

Ex-mugger reveals his secrets so you can stay safe in the streets.

Ex-mugger tells all: who they target and how they do it

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 over 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:

  • Don’t wear a watch that’s visible.
  • 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.
  • Muggers are more likely to target people who are least likely to resist.
  • Make loud noises. Muggers will target men over women because women are more likely to scream and bring attention to the act.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Take extra care on Fridays as, according to Mr Solano this is the day that people are the most ‘cashed up’.
  • 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?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    13th May 2017
    I have never been mugged luckily, but my brother has been mugged 3 times, twice in Italy and once in Spain, now my brother is over 6 feet tall and over 110kg so you would think a mugger would avoid him, the first mugger was a little old lady who bumped into him, he was more concerned about her well being than thinking he had just been mugged, the second time he got robbed again it was by an elderly woman who he described as being a gypsy he was in a cafe and she plonked herself down next to him, she had a heap of bags which she also put down next to her and spilling over onto where my brother was sitting, a few minutes later apparently changing her mind about the cafe she collected her stuff and left, she also collected my brothers camera on her way. The 3rd time he got mugged was by a young guy on a motorcycle and an accomplice who bumped into my brother as they were walking along the footpath he was relieved of his wallet which was passed onto the motorcyclist.
    Travelling Man
    13th May 2017
    In Lyon last year I was walking to the train station at the Place Carnot when a young man coming in the opposite direction suddenly snatched the gold chain from around my neck and took off at a rate of knots. I was carrying a backpack so was unable to chase him. However I was passing a small café at the time and the proprietor, who had witnessed the theft, said to me "Asseyey-vous ici, monsieur", indicating for me to sit down at one of the tables outside his bistro. He then ran in the direction that the mugger had taken. Five minutes later he returned with the chain, albeit a broken clasp. I thanked him profusely of course and the next day I returned, bought a petit verre de vino and tucked a 20 euro note under it as a small gesture of thanks. My suggestions are not to dress ostentatiously, duplicate your passport and travelling papers and keep your passport, credit cards and money in a moneybelt except for a day wallet. Caution and commonsense when travelling is the way to go. The majority of people one comes across are, as in Australia, ordinary decent people that are for the most part a pleasure to exchange cultures with.
    13th May 2017
    Ladies, never wear good jewellery and wear a cross body bag. Know where e erything is in it, so you're not fiddling around looking for items. Don't walk alone in uncrowed spaces and look confident.
    13th May 2017
    I don't wear much in the way of jewellery - a plain ring and sleepers.

    When in the UK in 2013, and going on a day trip, I used a small cross-body handbag and a backpack for the things that couldn't go into my handbag. The handbag was put on first, then the backpack so that it was doubly hard for anyone to just go for the handbag. I also use a walking stick - very handy to fend of any potential muggers. I certainly wouldn't want to be travelling by myself.
    13th May 2017
    Dress down, look like a bum who has nothing !! Only take to the streets with what you can afford to lose. Wallet always in front pocket, never in back pockets, no jewellery, cheap, watch. I also ignore anyone who approaches me and if I need help with directions, or whatever, I'll ask staff at a reputable looking shop ...these are the rules I travel by.
    13th May 2017
    You can be mugged or robbed just as easily at home as on holiday. The main difference is that people take greater risks when on holiday than they do at home. The only thing you need to do to.protect yourself is to use a modicum of common sense. As for not travelling alone,why not? I've done far more travelling alone than with others. Put yourself out there and be sensible. Don't put 18 unopened packages in your luggage given to you by that nice young man at the airport and you'll be fine.
    13th May 2017
    These tips should be used in Australia too considering there is an increase in muggings everywhere.
    13th May 2017
    I have travelled in many countries and several pickpocket hotspots and never been mugged or had anything stolen. Use commonsense . I agree with not stopping when approached .....i always smile ; put my palm up and shake my head and keep walking. I leave my usual purse at home and use a small card folder with credit card and travel card only in an inaccessible place on me and just a little purse with a small amount of local cash which doesn't matter if lost. I don't wear flashy jewelry and very casual clothing.
    14th May 2017
    I wear a bum bag/fanny pack. Looks nerdy but I feel a lot safer. Can reach tickets, wallet, phone in front of me.
    14th May 2017
    I would also be worried about going out without valuables on me to avoid losing them if mugged, but only to find the hotel room robbed of passport, credit cards etc when I was out. This hasn't happened to me but it was a concern when I went overseas because of an incident where a friend's family were robbed in their holiday unit on the Gold Coast Queensland. The robbery occurred when they were asleep in the unit during the night. They had their children and extended family with them. The thieves just tip toed around them stealing any valuables and money they could find, and the family discovered in the morning what had happened. Shocking. Another friend was mugged in Surfers Paradise while walking along a main street with his kids on holiday. The muggers wrenched the back pack off his back.
    15th May 2017
    Attempting to leave the train, suitcases in hand,
    The girlfriend and self were crushed by at least 6
    People all extremely helpful. Helping themselves to my wallet. Check your travel insurance i was only covered for $200 and lost €200
    9th Jun 2017
    I am surprised that the best tips come from people on here like jewellery, keep bag hidden or close to body, hotel safe etc. The least useful tips come from the article above.
    23rd Oct 2017
    Have I ever been mugged ? . Well it it felt like a mugging every time I read my pay statement and saw how much tax was ripped out!!!
    11th Jan 2020
    Don't act, look or dress like a tourist. No big cameras, no back packs and no bulky pockets.

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