General Question

hTownDude's avatar

I live in a moderately dangerous neighborhood. How do I stay safe at night?

Asked by hTownDude (178points) December 20th, 2008

I like my neighborhood for the most part, save for the occasional mugging that happens on my street every other week or so. I live a 5 minute walk from the subway and don’t own a car, so when I go out at night to see my friends, as 23 year-olds tend to do, I end up having to endure some walks home from the subway after last call. Thank goodness nothing has happened yet, but I fear my day is yet to come where I’ll be approached at 2am by a not-so-friendly person. I try not to let it get to me, but can’t help feeling tense on my walks home.

Aside from “looking confident” (I do) and “blending in” (I do), not flashing around valuables (I don’t, and I’m too poor anyway) what else can I do to ease my tension AND limit the probability of myself getting mugged?

(Things I do not plan on doing: Moving, getting a car, carrying a weapon, and cease going out at night. Sorry, these just aren’t options. I like where I live, I don’t like weapons, I like going out, and I don’t have enough money for cars.)

For instance: I heard that walking in the middle of the street (as opposed to the sidewalk) late at night can reduce your chances of getting attacked. Anyone want to verify this, and/or add other tips that are similar to this fashion?

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40 Answers

seVen's avatar

How about taking a self defense classes to know all pressure points etc.

tyrantxseries's avatar

“If you can act crazy then do so. Muggers don’t like crazies – they are too unpredictable. Try talking to yourself as you walk.”

jrpowell's avatar

I’m 6’ tall and 135 pounds. I have been mugged twice. Once by a guy with a knife and the other time by a guy with a gun. Don’t be a hero. Give them what they want and walk away. Don’t carry that much cash (I carry cash in my pocket, they usually only want your wallet) and have all the numbers to cancel all your cards handy.

blondie411's avatar

You know what Billy Joel says:
“I’ve been stranded in the combat zone
I walked through Bedford Stuy alone
Even rode my motorcycle in the rain
And you told me not to drive
But I made it home alive
So you said that only proves that I’m insane”

seriously when it comes to mugging, it doesn’t matter where or what you can do to prevent it, if your not willing to move then you might run the risk of being mugged.

hTownDude's avatar

For those who are generous enough to answer in the future: Tyrantxseries is the type of advice that I’m looking for.

Blondie411s advice is the opposite of what I’m looking for.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

@hTownDude: She’s just being fair. If you live in a bad neighborhood, you run the risk of being a victim to violence, no matter what you do in an attempt to prevent it.

buster's avatar

When you see people on the side of the street your walking on cross the street and walk on the other side. Keep your distance from the crackheads. The closer you get to someone the easier it is for them to fuck with you.

hTownDude's avatar

@Mr.MeltedCrayon: Except I made pretty clear the things that I was not willing to do, so the answer seemed more like an eager excuse to quote some song lyrics and be generally redundant… Like, “Hey everyone, I know I should move but I can’t so what else can I do?” and then someone says “Well you should move.” Are you kidding me? They should spare themselves the finger muscle workout from typing…

blondie411's avatar

Thank you Mr. Melted Crayon, I’m sorry hTownDude, for not giving you the answer you were looking for but other than self defense classes, pepper spray, talking to yourself, seeming more crazy or even staying over friends houses and not making a 2am trek back to your area when muggers are out I really don’t see much you can you. I never said you should rightfully move, but what I did imply was that if you knew it was a “moderately dangerous” neighborhood why are you worried about it now. My point of the quote is that you can’t stop a mugging you can’t prevent a mugging only by not being in that area.

hTownDude's avatar

Exactly, blondie. That’s why I’d rather wait for people who CAN see what they can do for me so that when I see that someone has answered my question and I get excited, I don’t have to be disappointed to find that no, someone just posted to reaffirm that it’s just impossible to take any precautions to getting mugged except for moving (which I know is false.)

That’s what I think they mean by “tapping the collective”...seeing who – out of all of these bright, generous people who come from different walks of life – has a certain perspective to add, given the criteria of each question that was posted. What I’ll never understand is why so many people on this site are so excited to let people know that they can’t, in fact, answer the question.

But no matter. It was still kind of you to help and I’m sure you meant well, so thank you anyway.

blondie411's avatar

Well your welcome, only trying to give you an opinion really for your situation. I’m not trying to give the same generic response but I truly believe other than what I mentioned before their really isn’t much you can do. The methods that people right about I don’t think are very true. Other than appearing very confident walking fast and looking straight ahead. I don’t think you can “beat out a mugging”.

hTownDude's avatar

I should also note that I’m not interested in weapons because they CAN be used against you. All it takes is one person to hold you down and another person to grab your mace, and all of a sudden you’re exponentially worse off than you were before.

Self defense is a fine idea, and I should have made clear that I do know a fair amount, but am still not confident at how effective it is – there really is no way of knowing that until I am finally tested in the real world – something that I am not interested in finding out any time soon. Half of what this question is really about is how I can avoid these sort of confrontations.

buster's avatar

Carry a walkie talkie and pretend your talking to your police dispatcher real loud if you see any unsavory characters. Call in descriptions of perpetrators and all kinds of bullshit. Hopefully you will be mistaken for a vice cop and no one wants to mess with cops.

tyrantxseries's avatar

Another issue you need to prepare for is: what are you going to do if you are being mugged?
you have three choices.
1. you fight
2. you fold
3. you run

each choice has a list of problems that can occur because of that choice,eg: fight, there is a big risk of injury or death, but if you win then they might think twice next time. fold and give them what they want, that can make you an easy target for future muggins, or this is a one time deal run, run like hell. make sure you can outrun them, if they have to chase you it could make it worse, and running from a gun isn’t the best idea, or you could get away and become “not worth the effort”

But in the end just trying to avoid the situation isn’t good enough, you need to be prepared just in case.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I live in an urban midwest neighborhood. People get mugged in my neighborhood with some regularity, too.
1. Do not listen to an iPod while walking at night; you want to be able to hear what’s going on around you. Be aware at all times that you are a potential victim.
2. Recognize the fact that while you may feel like you should be able to fight, that only works on Walker, Texas Ranger. Do not make the effort worthwhile; when you go out at night, take one credit card, identification and minimal cash.
3. When you come out of the subway, carry your keys like brass knuckles, with the tips of the keys protruding from between your fingers. That way if you have to take a swing, it will hurt like heck.
4. Learn to pay attention to how people look so you can give a good description. This is harder to do than you think, and takes some practice. You want to be able to give a good description and pick them out in a line-up.
5. If you need to yell for help, yell FIRE. People will come out of their houses for that.
6. Know your neighbors. This is often hard in the city, but be aware in the daytime who normally gets off and on the subway with you, hangs out on street corners, stoops, etc. Less happens if you are connected to those around you.

hTownDude's avatar

Afreda – great advice. Thanks.

gimmedat's avatar

Buy a dog. My dog Max is the best protection against any threat to my family. This is a good solution for keeping your house safe.

In the case of being out at night, I would say that your best protection is your instinct. If you’re uncomfortable, devise a plan quickly, and put it into action. This takes effort. Get enrolled in a self defense course, learn to protect yourself, and then listen to yourself. It sounds easy, but society teaches us to be accepting of people and not let judgments change our behavior. In reality, if someone or a situation appears shady, react appropriately because he/she/it probably is.

90s_kid's avatar

Boston isn’t too safe either. My apartment is right next to this freaky building.

jholler's avatar

The dog is a great idea. Also the suggestion to plan ahead for if you are attacked. Your wallet isn’t worth your life, but never let them take you somewhere else, they are planning on harming you if they want to take you away. Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

90s_kid's avatar

@ jholler

“plan to kill everyone you meet”

did I read that wrong? That’s harsh

jholler's avatar

Taken in context it’s not. My life is worth more to me than that of an attacker. Also, having a plan doesn’t mean you intend to carry it out, it just means you’re prepared.

hTownDude's avatar

Jholler – While I don’t plan on killing anyone, that is excellent advice – to not let anyone take me somewhere else. Marked as great answer.

Problem is, how do I avoid getting in to the confrontation of someone leading me somewhere else, or putting me in the position to be mugged at all?

90s_kid's avatar

I would give my own life…my life doesn’t matter as much as other people’s.

jholler's avatar

You would give your own life to make a mugger’s job easier?

90s_kid's avatar

I don’t care about my life jholler.

jholler's avatar

Then donate your organs.

hTownDude's avatar

Oh for chrissakes 90s kid, take your lil’ gloomy shtick somewhere else and stop derailing my thread.

I’m still interested in actual responses from people. The dog idea is actually very interesting, I love dogs and am even considering getting one except I don’t want to have to take a dog with me everywhere I go.

I was talking to a friend who mentioned a good idea would be to casually walk with a hammer as if I had just so happened to be returning from fixing something. His take on it? “When a mugger is scanning the streets for a potential victim, he’s probably not going to pick the guy with the hammer.” Then again, I don’t want to bring a hammer everywhere I go either…

90s_kid's avatar

Excuse me for answering your question. Not my fault it was in the “questions for you” active.

hTownDude's avatar

Just because it’s in the “questions for you” section doesn’t mean you’re obligated to answer it. I’m looking for actual advice like jhollers, busters, and tyrantxseries. I don’t care if you don’t care about your life, but I care about mine, so telling me that you think your life doesn’t matter and other such bulllshit doesn’t do anything for me if I’m looking for advice about how to avoid confrontations on my block at night.

90s_kid's avatar

I’m responding to what other people said, not exactly spamming. I already gave you good answers.
And I like to answer the “questions for you”.

jholler's avatar

So what exactly was said that made you think you’d get sympathy for some emo bs? I’ve seen too many people die that wouldve given anything for just enough time to say goodbye to their loved ones to have anything resembling pity or sympathy for someone who doesn’t value their own life. Ive also cut too many fashionably depressed kids out of wrecks who were screaming for help to believe most people who play the “my life is worthless” card.
@htowndude, lots of good ideas here, they mostly seem to boil down to
1) don’t look like an easy target
2) your life is worth more than your money
And I’ll add this one:
3) if there’s no possible way to avoid violence, flip ‘em the bird and die like a Viking.

90s_kid's avatar


Do you know how many people I know that have died?

hTownDude's avatar

90s kid: No, I don’t, and I could care less. Get back to me when you can provide an answer to the question.

Like blondies posts above, I am always shocked by how many people on this site are so eager to share that they don’t actually have an answer to the posted question.

90s_kid's avatar

Whatever, bye

blondie411's avatar

Maybe it is because you are on a question and answer site, but I did give you an answer maybe it wasn’t the one you were looking for perhaps. I answered “Other than appearing very confident walking fast and looking straight ahead. I don’t think you can “beat out a mugging”. Sorry if that isn’t what you were looking for, but posting a question to a question/answer site you will get people that want to share their opinions and are eager to help that usually what you will get. However that is an answer to your question if it is your solution obviously not, but neither are any of the other ones. So please stop attacking everyone that has been kind enough to give you some sort of a solution.

90s_kid's avatar

I think htowndude is too new. He will get used to it eventually

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@blondie, Htowndude was responding to 90s_kid’s ever so unhelpful remarks about his own life that had no relation to the question at hand nor any kind of advice. You offered some advice, which is perfectly acceptable, and nothing like 90s_kid’s input.

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richardhenry's avatar

[mod says:] That’s enough guys.

Response moderated

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