Thursday 04/02/16

Recently I was waiting in a queue behind an elderly gentleman who was being served at the counter. After removing his credit card from his wallet he gave the card to the cashier and placed his wallet on the counter, next to his left hand. From a safety and self-defence perspective this innocent act immediately drew my attention, especially since the wallet was stuffed full with $50 and $100 notes. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one who noticed this innocuous event.

A moment later a man stepped out from the crowd behind us and asked the elderly gent if he knew the time. I instantly recognised the new arrival as a petty thief and local trouble maker. As the old man focused his attention on his watch the new arrival’s eyes flicked down the unattended wallet and back to the old man. The old man told the new arrival the time, but the new arrival pretended he didn’t hear him properly, and asked the old man to repeat what he said as he leaned in close. I subtly adjusted my position and pretended to look at my watch as I leaned close “to make sure my watch had the correct time”. As I cleared my throat the new arrival suddenly registered how close I was to him, and realised he had no chance of grabbing the wallet and running away before I could restrain him. He immediately dropped all pretence of wanting to know the time. He turned around and quickly walked away. I took a step backward as the old man turned back to the counter to complete his transaction.

Did I have any proof a crime was about to take place? No. Did my actions prevent a crime? Perhaps. Did I do the right thing by looking out for a vulnerable stranger? Definitely.

From now on, I want you to pay attention to what you do with your wallet (or purse), and your mobile phone when you’re out in public. Are you one of those people who leaves their wallet/purse or mobile phone on the table when you’re dining at an outdoor café? When you walk down the street, do you carry your valuables loosely in one hand? Do you use this same hand to point out directions to strangers?

Let’s take a look at these behaviours and habits in relation in relation to your safety. Nowadays, many people use their mobile phone cover as storage for their cash and their credit cards. This single item is a very valuable and easily grabbed target for bag-snatchers and pickpockets. Something for the men to consider: leaving your wallet hanging out of your back pocket is not a good idea (and never has been). Stop doing this immediately.

This week you have homework: Every time you leave the house this week I want you to pay close attention to what you do with your wallet/purse and mobile phone. Remember; in a crowded shopping mall, or on a busy sidewalk, your valuables can be quickly snatched and the offender can easily blend into the crowd, leaving you with no details to pass on to the police.

If you found the information in tonight’s blog useful, please share it with your friends and family on social media. Information is only useful if it is shared. The better educated people are, the less likely they are to fall victim to a petty thief.