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The Urban Geek As A Mugger Magnet? 2063

Posted by timothy
from the beat-up-the-biggest-one-first dept.
CGP314 writes "I live in London and whenever I travel around, I feel like a huge target for muggers. Usually I take my laptop, iPod, cell phone and occasionally a PDA around with me. As with many geeks, these items hold within them far more value to me than anything I leave behind in my apartment. So I would like to know what my fellow urban geeks do to try and keep their valuables safe while traveling with them. I've switched my iPod headphones from the distinctive white to a boring black as a means of camouflage; are there any other suggestions?"
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The Urban Geek As A Mugger Magnet?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:00PM (#9292127)
    you go outside?
  • by lawngnome (573912) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:00PM (#9292128)
    Ditching the white earphones was a good first step - I would also suggest not using a fancy case to carry around your laptop - those leather targus bags just scream "look at me! expensive stuff here!"
    • by Suburbanpride (755823) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:10PM (#9292219)
      I carry my shiny 12 inch Powerbook inside an old bag that I picked up at an army surplus store. I alwasy get strange looks whien I sit down in a coffee shop and instead of pulling out a tattered note book, I pull out a laptop.

      Recently while on a train, I had my laptop, iPod, and digital camera sitting out on my lap. Carrying $2500+ used to make me nervous, although I've gotten used to it now.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:12PM (#9292244)
      Very good point about the computer case. A regular backpack (what I use) is a lottery for thieves; it could contain anything from some cheap books to an expensive laptop. A more specialized computer bag would almost certainly contain a laptop. If I were a thief, I know which one I'd try to swipe.
      • by sp0rk173 (609022) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:29PM (#9292391)
        Definately agree. If you're young (19-30, i'd say) it also gives you that starving college student look. And dont' use one of those fancy ones with all the different pockets and compartments and whatnot. Just a regular old hiking daypack is probably best. Especially if you actually hike with it, that'll make it look nice and dingy.
        • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:34PM (#9292879)
          Yes, I would also reccomend smudging your face with dirt, not shaving, and mumbling incoherantly to yourself. All these things help to further the image that you do not have anything of value worth robbing.
        • by Squeamish Ossifrage (3451) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @09:05PM (#9293075) Homepage Journal
          I'm pretty sure this has all been said before, but I'll try to put it in one place. This is an issue I think about a fair bit, because I'm a computer science grad student and wannabe photographer. Which is to say that I have some stuff that's worth stealing, but am also broke enough that I'd really miss it.

          1. Don't carry valuables in a way that makes them identifiable. For example, don't use computer bags, iPod cases, and whatnot. Get a protective sleeve for your laptop and toss it in an ordinary backpack. Stick your iPod (or, in my case, ancient Rio) in a pocket. A backpack crammed with expensive electronic toys looks the same as one full of books and old tin cans.

          2. Don't act or look like a good victim. Carrying yourself properly is a whole discussion in itself, so I won't even really try to cover it.

          3. Don't dress or act like you've got money. You should be above status symbols anyway, but if you're not, here's another incentive.

          4. Remember that your data's probably worth more than your equipment. Always keep good backups, especially for mobile devices. If your data is sensitive, either keep in encrypted or don't put it on portable devices in the first place.

          5. Get insurance. Find out what your homeowner's (or renter's) insurance covers, and fork over the extra for "scheduled item" coverage on your portable valuables. I do a lot of photography, and it's infinitely more relaxing to know that if something happens to my stuff, I don't have to worry. The extra cost is somewhere around a couple % of the insured value anually, and the peace of mind is worth it. Good policies even cover accidental loss and breakage, so you're protected from your own stupidity up to a point.

          6. If someone *does* mug you, just give them the damned stuff. It's not worth getting hurt over. If you've done 4 and 5, it won't even be that big a deal. But even if you haven't, it's just stuff.
          • by ManxStef (469602) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @10:40PM (#9293628) Homepage
            Mod parent up, that's an insightful post.

            Another point worth making is that backpacks, especially in crowds (such as London's Oxford Street when it's busy), are a thieves favourite. The method is known as "dipping" as it basically involves the thief dipping their hands into the backpack or pack's pockets - you won't feel this as the pack isn't close to your body (like, say, your jeans pockets is).

            NEVER put valuable items such as wallets, mobile phones, etc. in the outer pockets of a backpack: either use the "security" pocket if it has one (my Da Kine bag's got one that sits up against the small of your back and is partitioned from the main space), store them in a better location such as in the inner pocket of a zipped up jacket, or at least put them right at the bottom of the main compartment of the pack and place an item of clothing or something over the top. Common sense really, but you'd be surprise how many people don't think...

            As for cameras, taking the minimum gear necessary and making them look mucky with tape (zinc oxide apparently works well, but electrician's tape's good too) is a good idea, though you'll have trouble hiding that big white "look at me, I'm a pro!" Canon 70-200 2.8L - saying that those lenses are so solid you could probably just beat the mugger around the head with it ;)

            Oh, and a large pet dog such as a rottweiler or doberman goes remarkably far in stopping you being mugged. Who'd have thought! :)
    • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:27PM (#9292377)
      Ditching the white earphones was a good first step - I would also suggest not using a fancy case to carry around your laptop - those leather targus bags just scream "look at me! expensive stuff here!"

      I would suggest not even using a bag that's *shaped* like a laptop. Use a backpack or something, that has a padded laptop area. Make sure you "rough up" the bag a bit ahead of time (just throw it around against some rocks or something, or the pavement). As with any bag in the city, never let it out of your hand. But if it's not obvious you're even carrying a laptop to begin with, people will be less inclined to want to steal it.

      I have an oversized army jacket that I use for when I want to carry gadgets around without a bag. I can easily fit my PDA in there, a small digital camera, or an iPod, all without any bulge. I'm not big on those jackets made specifically for carrying gadgets around, because I mean, come on. If it's a jacket made specifically for carrying gadgets around, it's going to be obvious to any criminal that that's why you have it!
  • Look Alert (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:00PM (#9292131) Journal
    It's not what you have, it's whether you look like an easy target or not. Look around as you walk, be alert, notice people and make sure they know you notice them, but don't stare. Don't slouch and stare at the ground.
    • Re:Look Alert (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scrotch (605605) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:11PM (#9292235)
      Do what I do:
      - cut your own hair. badly.
      - get pierced a few times.
      - get a tattoo or two.
      - wear old clothes. don't wash them often.
      - use an old bag (bookbag/shoulderbag).

      Look like you might take something rather than have something taken from you. It's remarkably easy, and it helps you avoid people that judge others by their appearance...

      And never carry any weapon unless you're 100 percent confident that it couldn't be taken from you if you were surprised by four large men.
    • Re:Look Alert (Score:5, Insightful)

      by H310iSe (249662) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:16PM (#9292280)
      Yea, not to blame the victim but the way you hold yourself goes a long way to whether you're picked out as a target (it won't stop all the shit that may come your way but it can certainly limit it). Unfortunately I can't say what, exactly, it is that works well, but I used to walk around spanish harlem at 3 am all the time and never had any real problem. The people who lived in my place before me were mugged 3 times in 6 months. Confidence, minding your own business, and a genuine lack of fear (sometimes it helps to bringing some sort of talisman or gewgaw, like a rabbits foot or a big knife or something. Myself I found carying a 40 around was nice as it provided a) beer and b) a big heavy club).

      Lastly, know your neighborhood. A lot of crime happens close to home, if you're recognized and respected (not liked, just respected) then people will look out for you. I've had help from unexpected places on several occasions ... so be a decent bloke and your neighbors will have your back.
    • Re:Look Alert (Score:5, Informative)

      by Graftweed (742763) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:24PM (#9292352)
      I think you nailed it. I read an essay a couple of years ago comparing our urban existence with life in the jungle, focusing especially on aggressive and criminal behaviour.

      I don't have the numbers but the essay concluded that it's not what you have on you that makes you a better target, it's how aware you are of your surroundings. Think of predators hunting a species further down the food chain. If they have to choose from a pool of available targets they will always go after the ones who present the least chance of reaction. Likewise people who are out to mug you usually notice a whole bunch of minutiae about yourself that you normally wouldn't even think about. Are you walking with your shoulders sagged, are your eyes downcast or wandering without really focusing, are your hands tucked in your pockets or are they and your arms actively working to balance your body, are you walking briskly or irregularly? So on so forth...

      Of course someone who's looking at you as a potential target doesn't analyse all this, it's mostly just instinctive or subconscious information processing. Sometimes we get so caught up on the bigger picture we forget about the small details that do have a significant impact.
      • I was walking home with a friend in the University district of Seattle. We had been drinking and were in a good mood. Both of us looked like the sort of scruffy characters who wouldn't have squat on them. Because I felt safe a.) because I was with a friend, and b.) because Seattle in general, and especially the U district are usually crime-free, I didn't follow my own advice. I wasn't paying attention to my environment. Six big guys jumped us. The biggest jumped out from behind a bush, leading with a fist full of quarters right to my face. I was wearing glass glasses, and a shard of glass went clean through my left eye, completely destroying it.

        Ironically, neither my friend nor I had any money on us.
    • Re:Look Alert (Score:5, Informative)

      by jridley (9305) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:23PM (#9292796)
      Yes. One of the pieces of advice I saw recently in a "cycling through bad neighborhoods" page was "if someone worries you, make eye contact, just long enough to make it obvious that you could identify him if it ever came up.

      A friend of mine was in asia somewhere with his Tai Chi school, walking around sightseeing. He said he saw a handful of guys up above, in an ambush type layout. He made good, solid eye contact with the leader, looked confident and ready, and the leader waved off the group.

      There are targets walking by all the time. They'd rather take on the one that won't cause trouble. You probably shouldn't actually cause trouble if confronted, nothing is worth getting hurt over, but if they think you might, they'll just wait for the next guy.
    • by shokk (187512) <<ernieoporto> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:26PM (#9292822) Homepage Journal
      When you're afraid of your iPod being lifted, it gives a whole new meaning to the idea of "music piracy."
  • by re-Verse (121709) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:01PM (#9292138) Homepage Journal
    Tap in to the matrix and suddenly "I know Kung-Fu

    Yeah, that would be nice.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:01PM (#9292141) Homepage
    Do you think THIS is one of the reasons people have been interested in wearable computer devices? So they are less of a burden to carry around with you? Hrmmm...

    Now to clarify the question, is this guy a huge target because he carries too much crap or because he's huge?
  • by Rahga (13479) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:02PM (#9292147) Homepage Journal
    You'll have to check the laws in your area, but at the very least, the list is missing a knife, pepper spray, brass knuckles, and a packet of instant foam... Bite into it, then the attacker, and do your best to fake rabies. :)
  • An universal truth (Score:5, Informative)

    by E_elven (600520) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:02PM (#9292150) Journal
    Look like you know exactly what you're doing, and that you belong exactly where you are. Don't show fear. Don't run past the sketchy neighboroughs. Don't glance around. Strut. Don't look at maps. Don't stare at people, but return their look if given one.
  • by maxbang (598632) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:03PM (#9292165) Journal

    doesn't go out. Therefore, I don't really see a problem here.

  • by everyplace (527571) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:03PM (#9292167) Homepage
    Living in cities with anything like a decent crime rate, I view mugging and / or damage to equipment that I carry regularly as inevitible, and plan accordingly. The data that my equipment carries far exceeds the cost of the equipment itself, so I try to keep backups of data on another machine at my house or in another location entirely.

    I will say though, I was working at a convenience store a few years ago, and got held up at gun point while developing on my powerbook. All I could think about while handing them the money from the register was to position myself in exactly the right place so that the gunman couldn't see my laptop directly behind me. Ever since that close call, I've stuck to my "guns" when it comes to regular backups.
  • Two things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:05PM (#9292178) Journal
    1. I've lived in London for the last 18 years, since being 18 in fact, all over from Finsbury Park to Streatham, From Acton to Walthamstow, and even in South Kensington and Victoria, which covers a large area. I've never felt particularly at risk. Ever. Admittedly I'm a 6'2 male, and I walk around with confidence in my stride but I've been in far more dangerous places than London.

    2. Are you seriously telling me that you carry around with you data that you can't recover ?? No-one expects you to pray to the backup gods religiously every morning before breakfast, but seriously it's not hard to keep things at least roughly synced with a more-permanent base. Use any PC, connect 'em up and hit go, grab a coffee and it's done.

    I don't expect to get mugged, but there's always the chance I'll forget to pick up my bag, or drop the portable, or some idiot will spill his pint of beer over me, or (pick some random occurrence). BACK IT UP!

    [aside: I *have* heard from Ipod owners (I'm not one such) that the white earphones are in fact the cause of several muggings, and they're crap quality anyway, so I can understand ditching them. That's about the only step I'd take though, and more for quality reasons than safety ones]

    Simon
  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:06PM (#9292186)
    Just like you've done with the iPod headphones, ideally nobody should be able to tell you are carying a laptop, PDA, etc.

    I carry my laptop, PDA and minidisk player (yes, it's not an iPod, but it's still worth quite a bit) wherever I go, but because I use a regular backpack to hold everything, I'm as safe as anyone else. I use a sleeve bag for the laptop, with hard padding all around. That way in my backpack, even when surrounded by books, binders and other things, my laptop can take a fair amount of pressure without any problems. I even rode my motorcycle and my bycicle, and nothing happened (no, I did not fall, but the bumps would have cracked a less protected laptop).

    The absolute worse you can do is carry a leather Targus bag. It's as close to wearing a "Rob ME!" sticker on your back as possible.
  • Problem? (Score:5, Funny)

    by telstar (236404) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:06PM (#9292189)
    Most of the joy of gadgets is the researching, selecting, ordering, and receiving anyway ... After you get it, it's obsolete and you've already moved onto the next new thing. Think of muggers as helpers ... They clean out the old obsolete gadgets so you can research/select/order new expensive shiny gadgets.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:10PM (#9292223) Homepage
    I'd really like to help you out with this. Could we get together in person to discuss it? Please reply to this post with the time and place you want to meet, and when you come, make sure to bring all your expensive gear. I'd prefer a time late at night, and someplace out of the way and quiet. Maybe an alley?
  • by shadowcabbit (466253) <cx@tBOYSENhefurryone.net minus berry> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:11PM (#9292231) Journal
    One of the cardinal rules of sneaking around is to act like you own the place you're breaking in to. That way it's very unlikely people will question you. The same goes for traveling with expensive stuff-- don't be self-conscious about it, because it will show. The trained thief knows how to discern between the guy nonchalantly walking by (who likely has nothing of value) and the guy casting panicked stares around him (who, in all likelihood, is either loaded or stoned-- money either way).

    A lot of people are advocating the carriage of weaponry, and I can't agree with that. Just act calm, like nothing on your person is worth being hassled over, and you'll be fine.

    Incidentally, I used to traipse around downtown Erie back in my college days carrying a whole hell of a lot of heavy crap-- typically college books, cell phone, Game Boy, a PDA for a brief time, and other miscellaney. I quickly learned the value of a) miniaturizing and b) wearing clothes with lots of pockets. My favorite winter coat has 10 pockets, 4 of which are positively huge. When I had all my gear in it, including gloves and hat, it must have weighed at least six pounds; I remember it would always tip over whatever rack I hung it on. Something to think about, I guess.
  • by MrAndrews (456547) * <<ac.9881> <ta> <mcm>> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:19PM (#9292311) Homepage
    Once I had kids, I got a bunch of diaper bags (for carrying great gobs of baby stuff). Graco makes a kick-ass one that has more padded pouches than I can possibly use. The good part is that it's the perfect size for my Powerbook, headphones, and various other gadgets. I keep a little portable pouch of huggies in the front (cause they're damn useful anyway), just in case I get mugged and need to convince them there's nothing of value to steal.
    I get funny looks from clients when I unpack my gear from a blue and pink bag, but ultimately everyone agrees it's a pretty foolproof way to keep unsavoury types away.

    Note: possibly not for the single geek pickin' up hot dates.
    Note on note: I crack myself up sometimes.
    • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:32PM (#9292871)
      Note: possibly not for the single geek pickin' up hot dates.

      Heh heh... This is why most geeks have problems getting hot dates! What you fail to understand is that if girls think you're already taken, that makes you more valuable, and therefore, more wanted.

      In other words, if you're hanging with a bunch of guys at the local bar, you'll find it much more difficult to pick up a date than if you're there with a girl. So just go with some girl who's "just friends" with you, wait until she goes to the bathroom or something, and then go talk to that hot potential date who's there. I don't know why this works. After all, girls get pissed when you cheat on 'em, but if they think you'll dump some other girl for them, that turns 'em on. But then, girls don't make any sense anyway.

    • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:44PM (#9292942)
      I keep a little portable pouch of huggies in the front (cause they're damn useful anyway), just in case I get mugged

      I can see how the huggies would be useful, but don't you need to put them on *before* some guy sticks a gun in your face?
  • by freebase (83667) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:22PM (#9292327)
    Simply put, don't be a target. Carry yourself with the attitude that you aren't anyone's target, you belong exactly where you are, and know exactly what's going down.

    Know what's going on around you at all times. Walking around any kinda of area where you could get mugged wearing any kind of earphones tells those watching that you have NO awareness of much of anything except what's right in front of you. Since you're a geek, maybe not even that.

    Use the senses you were born with... if you hear something behind you, move first, ask questions later. See something that makes the hair on your neck bristle ahead? MOVE to the other side of the street. Don't take that shortcut down the isolated alley.

    Vary your routes if you think you need to..

    Above all, be aware of what's going on, and who's around you at all times.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:25PM (#9292363) Homepage
    ...learning to walk properly.

    There's a way of walking that just cries out "Oooh! I'm a victim! Pick me, pick me!"

    There's another way of walking that says you know where you are and what you're doing. It says you're capable and confident. And it says that you're probably not going to roll over when mugged, and probably will make it more hassle than it's worth for what little you probably have on you.

    You might find it enlightening to sit on a bench and watch the people pass by. Identify which ones look like targets, and which don't. Learn the difference.
  • by ejaw5 (570071) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:26PM (#9292371)
    Replace the equipment you currently own, and/or gut out old technology and replace with new stuff:

    Laptop: Don't stroll the streets with a fancy fangled widescreen ub3r1337 laptop, but instead a tough-built IBM Thinkpad 286-DX. The integrated TrackBall is so easy to use you'll wonder why you've used mice, eraserheads and touchpads for so long!

    Instead of iPod, get a $20 Portable Cassette Player..you know..the analog audio type. Each tape can hold 90 minutes of music, which in todays terminology is about the equivalent of 22.5 songs or 112.5MB. (4mins/song, each song 5MB). Plus Cassette has NO DRM, and can store formats of CD/MP3/OGG/ACC/record/8Track in high quality stereo!

    Cell Phone: The new phones with camera, MIDI Synthesizer, tv screen, QUERTY keyboard all get in the way of its primary function..get just what you need with a large cell phone from the 80's. With all the EMF generated by this analog phone, no crook would be caught stealing one of these!

    PDA: Who needs a embedded computer that needs batteries to run when you can tote around a convienent compact notepad and pencil/pen? Your paper notepad can be backed up at any Kinko's shops or any other place with a copy machine! No more having to sync with PIM software.
  • Walk Without Music (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:50PM (#9292547) Homepage
    I've got an iPod, but I almost NEVER use it while walking. I tend to use it exclusively on the train or at work.

    While walking, or for that matter cycling, I prefer to be tuned-into my surroundings.
  • Theft - Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

    by BMIComp (87596) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @07:53PM (#9292577)
    I was going to europe a few weeks ago, and having heard about several friends' cameras being stolen, I was really worried about my new Nikon D70 camera. I called up my insurance company, and asked them if there was any way I could insure my camera, and they said I could insure my $1500 camera for $30/year, which I did. So, regardless of where I have my camera, if something happens to it, being my fault or someone elses, it is covered under this insurance, which is called scheduled personal property [allstate.com]. I don't know if they do it for smaller items, but if you have anything that's quite expensive, you might want to look into this.

    Oh, and by the way, I'm back from europe, and my camera is fine. =)
  • by Pikhq (728580) <josiahw@gmail.com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:00PM (#9292624) Journal
    Transmitter: $50
    Reciever: $50
    Small bomb: $25
    False iPod case: $5
    Wiring the reciever to the bomb: half-hour
    The sound of a mugger exploding after getting 50 ft. away: Priceless
  • by slashname3 (739398) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @08:04PM (#9292647)
    Carry a +5 long sword, and good +2 dagger. Look them right in the eye, hold up a pair of dice and say "You felling lucky punk?".
  • Excersize (Score:5, Insightful)

    by almaon (252555) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @09:06PM (#9293083)
    This will sound a bit nuts, but I went to school in the inner city. I used to get my butt kicked on a regular basis having to go through rough neighborhoods because of the color of my skin.

    Then an old man in that neighborhood gave me some good advice:

    "Run, never walk. If you're running they'll either be too slow to react to mess with you or they'll think you're running from the cops and don't want anything to do with you"

    I tried it, it worked. The same thing is true of any other sketchy place in the world I've been.

    It'll get your lazzy hump into shape quick. Not the most practical in dress shoes, but kept my butt from being black and blue.
  • by woodsrunner (746751) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @09:12PM (#9293133) Journal
    William S. Burroughs wrote about the way he survived the streets of Tangiers was to become invisible using a trick he learned from a Toledo mobster. I have been practicing this trick for twenty years and it works.
    The way to do it is walk slow and make sure you see everyone before they see you. By doing this, you trigger a reflex in others to not see you. I can walk past anyone this way, even people I know who are looking for me. It's wierd how effective it is.

    Also, with laptops, the bios is a good way to protect your stuff.
    Most laptops bios p/w need to be factory reset. The best one being the IBM's that send a token from the bios to the hard drive. Even if the factory resets the motherboard p/w without getting ahold of you, because the thief is sophisticated enough to replace the chip (unlikely), the hard drive data is still encrypted and un-retrievable.
    Finally, guns are for wimps.
    If you pull a gun on someone you shouldn't be ready to use it, you use it!
    BANG!
    End of story... make it a clean kill.
    If any moron pulled a gun on me, I'd kill 'em with it.

    Like prophet said -- "learn to fight without the corruption of weapons."
  • Pickpockets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JazFresh (146585) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @09:13PM (#9293137)
    The comments here so far have concentrated on face-to-face encounters with muggers, but pickpockets are probably a bigger threat in London. If you pull out your wallet, gameboy, PDA, etc on the Tube, sooner or later someone will notice where you stashed it in your bag, get behind you on the escalator, and pilfer it. You will never know. Pickpockets are good at what they do, even some of the most streetwise Londoners I know have been pickpocketed.

    Maybe you should get one of those belt chains that were fashionable for wallets a while back, and use them for your PDA and Ipod. Use some superglue and one of those things they use to secure computers to desks if there's no other way to attach it. It won't stop muggers (and if you're too flashy about the chains, it might attract them), but it will stop pickpockets and grab-and-run thieves, including those gypsies that come up to you when you're at a restaurant with some card that explains their sob story (which is just a distraction to pour the objects on the table into their bag).

    Everyone I knew in London (myself included) has been a victim of crime there. Chances are, you'll eventually join their ranks.
  • by awol (98751) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @09:23PM (#9293199) Journal
    Don't go south of the river. Don't go outside zone 1. If you must go outside zone one, don't take more than you can sprint with
  • zerg (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @09:29PM (#9293240) Homepage
    Aikido. Let's face it, you're a geek, so:

    -you're out of shape.
    -you've got carpal tunnel.
    -you're scared of people bigger than you.

    Aikido will take care of all of those.
  • An Idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by limekiller4 (451497) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @10:11PM (#9293470) Homepage
    Remove the tape from the middle of your glasses.
  • by anechoic (129368) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @10:30PM (#9293581)
    I am a touring musician and have written this bullet-point list of tips and tricks for laptop musicians for avoiding getting pick-pocketed:

    - colored backpacks = tourist or student
    this was a surprise to me but a policeman at the police station near where I was mugged said that backpacks with any sort of color on them are most prone to being pick-pocketed or stolen for some reason...the only conjecture he made was that it is mostly tourists who carry backpacks and the buyer usually chooses a colored bag so their luggage is distinctive when picking it out of a group of similar luggage (i.e., the baggage carousel at all airports)...so I sold the backpack I have (it had an orange outer shell on it) and purchased one which is pure black...more on my new backpack later...

    - NEVER wear a what's called a 'fanny-pack'
    these are packs that you wear around the waist like a belt that can hold wallets and credit cards and money...they were originally marketed to bicyclists but became popular with tourists as well...this is target #1 for pickpockets...fanny-packs = credit cards and money...don't wear them and if you own one throw it away unless you use it while bicycling...they're useless...

    - ALWAYS file a police report
    when your credit cards are stolen the thief knows full well that they have a limited amount of time to use it before the owner discovers it is missing and calls the card companies to cancel the accounts...in this period of time they usually rush into a jewelry store and buy an expensive piece of jewelry - but not too expensive where it gives them away...usually a couple of thousand Euro...and they will do this in a couple of stores until the card gets turned down...they then have purchased a booty which they then fence for cash...so it's a good bet that your card will show a purchase no matter how quick you are in reporting the card(s) stolen...an official police report will be needed to dispute any illicit charges made to your card(s)...I know it's painful to sit in a police station for hours and be treated like a criminal but it is absolutely worth it in the end...it is difficult to dispute illicit charges with most credit card companies without a police report...get one, don't even think about it...

    - distribute your valuables
    this means: don't put all your money and credit cards in one place (like your wallet) but spread them out in various hiding places (more on this later)...for example: cash, credit cards and passport should be kept in separate places in your backpack or on your person...also, hotel's have safes in the room which are free...keep valuables in different places since PP's usually operate in one quick move which means they get one chance to get at the goods and flee...

    - money belts, neck wallets and shoulder wallets
    personally I hate neck wallets...the string cuts into my neck and usually I have too much stuff to carry to keep it all in a single pouch around my neck...a passport, plane tickets, cash, credit cards, drivers license, etc. all start to weigh a lot when wearing them around your neck all day...and money belts are a pain to get to when your fumbling for money while buying a train ticket or need to present your passport in a hurry...I did some searching and I found a 'shoulder wallet' which fits like a gun holster...all your valuables are located just under your left pectoral/breast and are easily gotten to...I typically wear a T-shirt under a denim shirt so I wear the shoulder wallet over my T and under the denim shirt...when I need to get to money or passport I just reach into my shirt and grab it from a Velcro pouch under my left arm...the downside to wearing a money belt or waist wallet is that they can be pick-pocketed by experts...they just cut the back of your belt, distract you and pick up the fallen money belt...volia! a neck wallet is good but gets heavy after a while and is awkward to get to when carrying luggage since you need two hands to manipulate it...a shoulder wallet is good because you c
  • Concealed handgun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pauldy (100083) on Monday May 31, 2004 @12:27AM (#9294097) Homepage
    If more States would give back the rights of its citizens to bare arms this would no longer be a topic of discussion as the thought of a crime like this would be so remote. Instead of looking at it as a problem needing to be solved your simply looking at how not to be the victim. It's cowardice in its rawest form. Seeing posts like this were some coward is just looking for ways to save his own butt makes me feel sad for those who came before him to secure his right to walk down the street without fear. For this is the man who instead of fighting to maintain that right cowers to the minute criminal element in this country just as so many conservatives cower to the emotional thinking of the liberal initiatives who rather than thinking through problems simply feel their way trough them.

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket. -- George Orwell

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