The Surprising Things Muggers Look For in a Victim

Muggers are a lot more selective when it comes to choosing their victims than you might think. They don’t just pick smaller women walking in the wrong place at the wrong time. A lot more goes into their selection process. Read on to find out what muggers look for in a victim and what you can do to avoid an attack.

1. How you walk

Full body side portrait of a cheerful young woman

Your stride says a lot. | m-imagephotography/iStock/Getty Images

A group of researchers showed footage of people walking through a high-risk neighborhood to prisoners and asked them who looked like the easiest targets. Based on the prisoners’ selections, walking style had a lot to do with whether a person was marked as a good target.

Those who weren’t selected to be easy targets walked confidently with medium strides. Those who were dubbed good targets could be seen shuffling, moving very slowly, or with extra large strides — anything out of the ordinary.

2. Whether you make eye contact with strangers

African American man walking in the city

Instead of admiring the buildings, look at the people around you. | goofyfoottaka/iStock/Getty Images

This is a tough one. If you’re walking alone at night and just trying to get from point A to point B, the last thing you want to do is welcome unwanted conversation from a stranger. Eye contact can do just that. But, according to Lifehacker, an obvious “lack of eye contact” can make you a victim.

If you come in contact with another person when walking alone at night, briefly look them over (confidently and without a smile if you’re trying to avoid conversation) — just to the point where you’d be able to identify them if needed. And then, keep moving. 

3. Talking on the phone

An unidentified businessman uses his cell phone May 22, 2002 in London, England

Talking on the phone could make you a target. | Hugo Philpott/Getty Images

A lot of people like to call someone when they feel uncomfortable walking through a certain neighborhood. It makes them feel safe to talk to someone they know and love, and they feel like they’d be able to quickly ask for help if they run into trouble. However, Psychology Today says muggers actually look for people talking on the phone because they’re not tuned in to their surroundings. 

4. Looking up directions

Businesswoman using mobile phone

When you look like you don’t know where you’re going you’re vulnerable. | diego_cervo/iStock/Getty Images

Looking up directions, whether on a map or on your phone, is a surefire sign that you don’t know your way around, which makes you vulnerable. “Looking like a tourist — having the map out, looking confused — absolutely makes people more vulnerable,” Tod Burke, a criminologist at Radford University in Virginia, tells Psychology Today.

Look up directions before you start walking alone. Even if you’re just trying to remember where you parked after leaving a restaurant, do the mental math before heading out if you’re in an unsafe area.  

5. How quiet you are

Woman using a whistle

Carrying a whistle or making any sort of noise will deter a criminal. | Vikulin/iStock/Getty Images

Muggers don’t want to draw any attention to themselves, so it’s a good idea to be prepared to make a lot of noise if you have to. “A woman one time had a whistle … That’s a great idea: Whistles, air horns, anything that makes noise,” career criminal David Solano, who is serving a prison sentence, told the Daily Express.

6. Overt signs of wealth

happy woman with shopping bags

Are you making it obvious by flashing your wealth? | yuriyzhuravov/iStock/Getty Images

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget this factor when it comes to getting ready for an evening out. If you’re wearing a lot of expensive jewelry or an obviously pricey outfit, it doesn’t hurt to cover up with a big, nondescript coat if you’re going to be walking alone. Additionally, don’t be seen flashing any big wads of cash, according to Psychology Today. 

7. If it’s Friday

Scared woman with shadowed man walking behind her

Do everything you can on Fridays to stay safe. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Friday is the day you’re most likely to get mugged. “Thieves assume you got paid that day, and a payday for you is a payday for them,” Solano told Today. If you’re going out on a Friday night, be extra cautious. Carry mace in your hand (not your purse), walk confidently, cover up any fancy jewelry with a coat, and make a lot of noise if needed.

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