50 'Street Smarts' That Could Save You From Attackers And Pickpockets 

50 ‘Street Smarts’ Tips That Could Save You From Attackers And Pickpockets 

You don’t want to end up in a sketchy situation, which is why you should memorize these tips from Ask Reddit.

1. If you are a woman and have a handbag with a zipper, make sure the opening end is towards the front (where you can keep an eye on it). This prevents someone walking behind you from opening your handbag and taking your wallet/anything valuable.

2. When you’re in a bar/restaurant don’t stick your phone (or wallet) on the table. Don’t leave it in your jacket pocket on the back of your chair either, but seriously not the table top. You think you’ll be able to see someone taking it, but you’re not there to watch your phone – any distraction and it’ll be gone.

Normally what happens is that someone will momentarily cover it with e.g. a map as they ask for directions, card asking for money, whatever and as they remove that you’re phone will vanish. This happens all the time and is very effective.

3. I use windows/reflections to check who is behind me. Looking at a shop window while I walk is innocuous enough, but it allows me to check if someone is still behind me without me turning around.

4. If you are a tourist and want a local to take a pic of you with your phone either have it be an employee or someone you can outrun.

5. If you want to know if you can trust somebody you let in your home, leave a $5 bill in a place that looks like it was forgotten about and that they would see it. If they’ll take you for $5 now, they’ll take you for more later.

6. Ear buds or head phones signal that you’re not aware of your surroundings. Staring at your phone indicates the same. Make you an easy target.

7. Don’t hug the walls, walk a bit towards the center especially near corners.

Keep your ears open, notice things. Footsteps, shuffling, metal clanging, anything.

Basically be aware of your surroundings and anticipate critical situations.

8. Don’t walk around staring at your phone after dark. It’s immensely stupid.

1: It lights up your face from a mile away like a dumb, distracted easy mark.

2: You aren’t at all aware of your surroundings, even if you believe you are. We’re nowhere near as good at multitasking as we assume.

3: If you suddenly DO need to look up at impending danger, your eyes are adjusted for bright light rather than darkness and you won’t be able to clearly see who’s around you.

9. My rule is “Don’t stop in the street for someone you don’t know”. This includes people asking the time or directions. It covers you for ‘charity collectors’ and prevents you being mugged by distraction. It doesn’t matter how friendly they are, keep on moving. No physical contact either (e.g. handshake).

Never use a cash machine (ATM) without being aware of your surroundings. So no headphones. No conversations.

Both are things I’ve learned after being mugged.

10. Never turn your back to someone who you don’t trust or is aggressive. YouTube is full of videos of people getting sucker punched from behind.

11. Don’t ask random people for directions. A random dude on 42nd St probably does not know how to get to The Apollo. You’re better off going to a cop or a corner store to find out. Or just use your phone if it’s on.

Don’t drink from your drink if you’ve left it unattended.

12. Yelling fire will get more attention than yelling help.

13. At restaurants or other establishments sit with your back to a wall, no blind spots, and a view of the entrance.

Beware of unsolicited kindness or help from strangers.

People who carry guns often walk and posture a certain way. Learn to identify this.

Don’t be a hero.

14. For girls, make up a fake boyfriend to get creeps away. If you’re being followed, don’t freeze up and just keep walking. Go into the nearest fast food place or store. Keep your eyes forward and don’t look at people. And please, for the love of god, don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk.

15. Watch their left foot. Most people are right handed. If they inch their left foot closer to you they are setting up to take a swing.

16. If I’m in an unfamiliar city, I’ll explore freely every neighbourhood as long as there are women and kids around. Most mums don’t hang outside with their kids if the street/area is unsafe.

17. Look like you’ll fight back. Not so much that it looks like you’re issuing a challenge, but just so that anyone looking to get the twenty bucks in your wallet will wonder whether it’s worth the effort.

18. Hotel lobbies are great places to use the restroom. They are usually clean, safe, and hardly ever occupied as most guests will go up to their own room instead of using the public location.

19. People make pickpockets’ livelihood so easy. Just check out how many phones are in people’s back pockets, how many handbags dangle by the side, easily accessible.

Always put valuables in an inside, preferably zipped pocket. If you in a notorious pickpocket area like Paris or Naples, you can even carry a fake wallet with monopoly money in an outside pocket.

20. Trust your gut instinct, if your gut is telling you somethings off then treat it as such — a really good book about this is “the gift of fear” by Gavin de Becker.

21. If you’re being attacked and someone is trying to get you into a vehicle to take you to a secondary location, fight as much as you possibly can to not get in the vehicle. If they kill you while fighting it will be quick and your murder will be easier to solve, but if they take you to a second location they can keep you alive as long as they want doing whatever they want to you and your disappearance will be much much harder to solve. Better to go down swinging and make it easy to catch your attackers than end up tortured for God knows how long.

22. Walk like you know where you going. If you look like an easy target, chances are folks around you are thinking the same thing. Most bad areas are infested with poverty stricken people looking for an easy come up.

23. People always tell me this is kind of a morbid thing to do. When we go on vacation or to an event, I take a picture of each of my children individually upon arrival. If they go missing, I can pull up a picture of what they look like and exactly what they were wearing when they went missing.

You’d be surprised at how little you can recall of what your child was wearing when you’re in a panic (and they’re old enough to dress themselves.) Trying to estimate their height and weight is impossible unless they’ve recently had a checkup at the doctor. It also eliminates the need to add a verbal update to an old picture. (ie. here’s a recent photo but she got a hair cut and new glasses after the photo was taken.)

24. Count every possible exit in any room you enter.

25. City Face: Don’t look happy in a dense area on the street. Look slightly pissed. If you have something to be happy about, that’s something someone wants.

26. On public transport or other public areas where you worry someone will bother you, keep your eyes to yourself. Look at your phone or read a book, while still being aware of what is going on around you. I find if your eyes are wandering and you’re looking at people, some people will take it as an invitation to come talk to you or worse: some kind of insult or threat (this is when you get a “what are you looking at bitch” yelled your way).

At night, especially if I have been drinking, I never walk within arms reach of a doorway, a parked car with someone in it, an alleyway, etc. Anywhere where someone could conceivably grab you and pull you inside is somewhere you want to stay a fair distance from when you are walking past.

Never take a drink that you haven’t seen poured. Make sure you are the one to take it from the bartender, don’t let it be passed to you. Sometimes it sucks to turn down free drinks from a guy who is more than likely a totally normal, nice guy who isn’t out to roofie you, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re at a bar/ nightclub and a guy is bothering you, refusing to leave you alone, touching you without your consent or grabbing you (I once got grabbed by the neck by a man in a very busy club)- Tell security. Nightclubs want girls there, this is why you so often see “guys 5$, girls free” type deals for cover. No bar wants to get a reputation for it being a place that is dangerous for women. Security can and will kick a guy out who is being aggressive, or at the very least talk to him and agree to keep an eye on him so that you feel safe.

If you are somewhere where pickpocketing is an issue, wear you purse crossbody, with the bag itself sitting in front of your body. Keep you hand resting on top of the bag.

Take a photo of the license plate and/or taxi license of any taxi/ Uber/ Lyft car you get it. Make it obvious that you are doing this. Send it to a trusted friend or family member. I usually will do this when texting my parents or a roommate that I am on my way home from the night- then they know to expect you, and have information about who is driving you if you don’t come home. I find that doing this also prevents being flirted with, harassed and overcharged by the driver as well- they know that you have their information and could easily use that to report them or make a complaint if they do something wrong.

If someone is bothering you DO NOT BE NICE!!!! This is my biggest tip. This works both for people begging on the street/ trying to get you to buy something off of them (you see this a lot in bigger cities like Paris or Athens). If you tell a man on the street selling bracelets “oh those are beautiful but no thanks” then likely they will not let up with trying to get you to buy one. If you say “no thank you” and keep moving right off the bat they will likely leave you alone. If they keep pushing say that you don’t like whatever they’re selling/ think it’s ugly and they will usually give up because they see it’s not something you want.

Not being nice also works when someone (usually men) are catcalling/ harassing you, whether on the street or at the bar. If they compliment you don’t thank them, don’t acknowledge them, just keep moving (and maybe shoot them a dirty look). If they keep following or yelling at you reply, very loudly to try and alert people around you that something is going on, something along the lines of “please get away from me”. Sometimes being “rude” is necessary to keep you from getting in harms way.

If you are ever threatened, even with a weapon, never ever go to a second location with someone. Make a scene, scream, kick, bite, pee your pants, do ANYTHING to prevent you from being taken somewhere else. Your likelihood of dying goes WAY up if you are taken somewhere else. Think of it this way: if you’re going to be murdered either way don’t you at least want your body to be somewhere more public, instead of buried in the woods somewhere, never to be found, with your friends and family never knowing what happened?

27. If you have a hoodie, don’t ever wear the hood. The reason for this is twofold:

  1. If you are in a sketchy neighborhood it obscures your peripheral vision and can make it harder to see people trying to run up on you.

  2. If you’re in a rich neighborhood, it attracts unwanted police attention.

28. Never break two laws at once. Got something in your car that’s illegal? Better not be speeding, stop completely at red lights…ext.

29. Put your wallet sideways in your pocket so it gets stuck.

30. I tell friends who visit us in the city, make sure you’re wearing shoes that you can either fight or run in. I’m consistently amazed at my friends from the hinterlands who show up in flip flops or sandals for a day in the city. Sensible footwear, people.

31. Don’t stand on the “X”.

You remember cartoons from when you were a kid with the coyote and the road runner? The coyote would setup his falling anvil trap, box of dynamite, or whatever other trap. He would always paint a big red “X” where the road runner should be when the trap springs.

When discussing this in terms of personal defense and safety. It means don’t paint an “X” on yourself. Don’t walk around at night with headphones in staring at your phone. Don’t walk down that dark alley with nobody there. Don’t flash money around in questionable areas. Etc. It also means to be aware of situations where you are being guided, pushed, or manipulated towards the “X”. Many scams and people work in teams. Providing wrong directions to accomplices, working a scam, or generally trying to set the trap. Avoid these situations with politeness yet leave.

32. Listen to that little voice inside your head. It’s smarter than you.

33. If you go to a concert/festival/public thing with your friends, make a meeting point if you get separated. Pretend there’s no signal. We meet at this toilet or this flag or this tent.

34. Most people are right handed and watch a lot of movies.

So if you know you’re about to get punched, get ready to duck left because most people are going to throw a stiff right cross aimed at your nose.

35. Watch people’s faces and eyes. If they’re looking around a lot or really fidgety when talking to you, they’re scanning for witnesses before they try to rob/assault you.

Take a step or two back, if they try to close that gap, step back again and start being very loud and say something like “I’m sorry, but I really gotta get going!”

Their next likely step will be to try and make a last-ditch effort to appeal to your guilt. “What? You think I’m gonna do something to you?” Do not fall for this!!

If this scenario happens with nobody around, then I hate to say your only option are to either run very fast, give them what they want (within reason, obviously) or be ready to fight for your life.

Anyone who postures like this against a stranger does not have your best interest in mind.

36. Ex cabbie here. “Can you break a hundred?” translates to “Do you have at least a hundred dollars I can steal from you?” so the answer is always “no”.

37. If someone asks you what time it is they may actually be seeing how expensive your phone/watch looks.

38. If you are lost in a sketchy neighborhood, do everything in your power to not hit the same intersection twice. Places that are use to drive by shootings get very fearful of unknown cars driving up and down the streets. They probably won’t call the cops.

39. When approaching a red light/stop sign, don’t pull up right behind them. Leave room to maneuver your car, don’t trap yourself in.

Lock your car doors and don’t leave valuables in view whether you’re driving or not.

Keep a hammer and sharp scissors/blade in your vehicle for breaking windows and slicing locked seatbelts.

Don’t leave your phone unsecured in your vehicle. If you’re in an accident your stuff will scatter everywhere. You will want to have access to your phone. This goes for all valuables.

Don’t tell anyone all weapons you might have on you. Always have spares and always have variety.

Sew small, accessible, secure pockets inside jeans, bras, shoes.

Don’t carry all your keys on one keychain. Never give a valet all of your keys, just the car key.

When approaching a door that requires a key, whether it’s for a building or a car or a house, always have said key ready to use immediately upon reaching the door.

Don’t dilly dally around doors. Get in, get out. Double check that the door closes fully and locks behind you. Lock an entry door from the inside, prior to leaving – this way you can close the door behind you without turning your back to lock it.

Don’t keep all your anything in one place and don’t leave anything in plain sight.

Line the insides of your bathroom cabinets/drawers and bedroom furniture drawers with holiday bells so you can hear if someone is snooping.

Don’t leave your personal business/mail lying around in a public area of your home.

Have fire extinguishers and know how to use them, know where a fire is most likely to start in your home and keep them accessible to those areas but not in the area. Car, too.

Don’t go anywhere new in the world without knowing something about where you’re going and how to address the various circumstances you might be faced with.

In a new town pick up a phone book from the Chamber of Commerce or wherever.

Know how to read maps, read cursive.

Don’t start eating before the host.

Learn and implement table manners as well as good spelling and speech.

Don’t go around telling people how shitty your exes treated you or crap people do to you – makes you sound like a mark. Don’t admit weakness.

Have your form of payment prepared before you even walk into the store. Avoid having your wallet out and open in public.

Know how to break into your own house. If you can’t afford an alarm system, set up booby traps.

Have a bug out bag.

Have commonly accepted barter items/gifts available: small soap, small toothpaste, couple packs of cigarettes and books of matches, lighter, rolling papers, a few gallon sized zip lock baggies, small amount of weed,

Tip big. If someone picks something up for you at the store, give him extra for his time.

Say please and thank you and always compliment a host on the home and meal.

Buy about 20 occasion cards to have at all times. Some birthday, congratulations, get better, thank you, sympathy and blank. Stamp the envelopes so they’re ready.

Turn off the TV.

Write down and memorize important addresses, numbers and accounts. Don’t rely on your cell phone.

Keep your home tidy and make your bed every day.

Floss and brush daily and avoid touching your eyes/nose/ears/mouth.

Nothing is off limits in a street fight. Avoid.

Learn how to use quiet weapons. Knife throwing is good. Mace.

Upon arriving at a restaurant or gathering or someone’s house or whatever, first thing ask where the restroom is so you can wash your hands. You get to scope out the place, your friends think your clean.

Keep your opinions at home.

Do not hesitate. The moment you think you have to get out – go. Get out now. Safety first.

Don’t admit to drug use, medications, income or valuables.

Don’t be nice to strangers.

If you live alone don’t tell people that. Always say you have a roommate.

Don’t allow strangers into your home. No one who knocks is up to any good.

Never talk shit. Always positive. Learn to control yourself and your emotions.

40. Perfect your ‘I didn’t see nothing, got nothing to do with me’ face. If you see something shady or criminal, don’t look interested, don’t speed up, don’t pretend your didn’t see. Just act like you couldn’t care less and aren’t interested. This reassures others you’re not going to run around the corner and call 911.

41. When traveling, always try to act like you’re a local. Learn prices, learn routes, learn behaviors and when possible try to copy their accent. I do this all the time and it’s easier to haggle. You also have less chances of being targeted by local thieves.

42. How you dress is probably the biggest factor I haven’t seen mentioned here much.

If you dress like you have money, you’re a target, if you dress like you don’t, you’re unlikely to be.

What’s more, dressing and acting like you belong can nullify a lot of other things that make you a target.

43. Carry a decoy wallet. Stash just maybe a fiver and some coins in it. If you get mugged, give them that. They probably won’t want to stay around much longer after you give it to them, and you’ll still have your real wallet, with your cards and real amounts of money inside.

44. Don’t ever carry expensive goods in isolated regions or overly crowded regions if it’s in an area with lots of tourism.

Never leave anything in a hotel safe unless it’s an international chain – that just puts a label on it. Had enough stuff go missing from hotel safes with end result being a he said she said argument and you end up screwed.

45. If you’re being robbed, don’t fight back. You’re life is worth more than your phone, your money in the wallet/purse and whatever else you’re carrying. Just obey to the demands and it will be over as quick as it begun.

Feel the urge to fight that guy giving you shit? Don’t! Just walk/run away. The best form of self defence is running away.

TOURISTS in London, if you see two people on a high-powered scooter or a group of scooter riders, be wary of them. They’re more than likely robbing people or other bikes. Bike crime is incredible high in London right now. They will mount the curb and they will snatch your belongings.

46. Carry an extra wallet with $50 in it and throw it if someone tries to rob you. STREET SMARTS!

47. Don’t fuck with people. Even the skinniest, nerdiest Steve Urkle lookin motherfucker might be crazy with a knife under his sleeve, might stab you soon as you turn around. But don’t be scared of people either. Mutual respect.

48. Security guards, doormen, food cart owners, and blue collars in general, know where the closest bathrooms are.

49. The most dangerous time to drive is right when it starts raining, cause any oil on the street has mixed with the water, making it slippery, but hasn’t had enough time to wash away yet.

50. I am a 60 something female who travels extensively alone for work. I have had a few close calls but my rule is I don’t worry about offending someone that approaches me if there aren’t others around.

I will cross the street, head for an open establishment, get away. Panhandlers, do you have a cigarette guys, don’t let them get close to you if there’s no one around. I keep my keys in my hand and say if you come any closer I’m going to push this alarm.

I was heading for the airport early in the morning with luggage and a creepy guy drives by asks if I need a ride, I say no, he goes down to turn around and is coming back. I saw a restaurant worker down the next block having a smoke so I yelled to him. Hey I might need some help here and he ran down to stare the guy down.

I don’t hesitate to ask a security guard to walk me to my car. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be aware of your surroundings! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.