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“Broadcast Confidence” and Other Pro Tips On How to Avoid a Robbery

Over the weekend, three friends were walking near University Village when they heard squealing tires and saw a car pull out of an alleyway. Five men climbed out of the car, attacked the three victims and then stole their wallets, cellphones, and even one man’s hat. In another incident this weekend, a robber simply ran up to a woman on the street near the University of Washington, grabbed her purse, and took off.

Unfortunately, random crimes like these can happen to anyone at any time, but there are things you can do to make yourself a less appealing target for criminals out on the street.

Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston—who works with North Precinct residents on ways to keep themselves safe and keep crime out of their neighborhoods—says to always be aware of the people around you on the street and trust your instincts.  “Who’s standing behind me? Who’s standing next to me?,” she says. “I’m crossing the street if someone’s giving me a bad feeling.”

Try to “broadcast confidence” when you’re walking down the street, keep your head up and look people in the face, Johnston says, and don’t be afraid to duck into a restaurant or another busy business if you feel like you’re being followed.

If you still end up facing down a mugger someday, SPD Robbery Unit Sgt. Kevin Aratani says it’s always safer to hand over your wallet or phone than risk injury. “It’s not worth it,” he says.

After you’re safe, call 911 or flag someone down for help. It’s important to contact police as soon as possible, and the more information you can provide, the better, Sgt. Aratani says.

Simply memorizing a suspect’s vehicle description or license plate number, or details about what a suspect looked like—including height, weight, and what they’re wearing—can lead police to the person who robbed you.

Police recently tracked down the suspects in several street robberies on Beacon Hill after a victim provided police with a good description of a teenaged suspect. Officers recognized the teen suspect from the victim’s description and tipped off robbery detectives working the case.

Finally, Smartphones are one of the most popular items taken in robberies in Seattle, and most newer phones and computers have applications that can help you locate your stolen electronics. If you’re robbed and you’ve got GPS software on your phone or laptop, be sure to let police know as soon as possible.

If you’d like to know more about how to keep yourself safe or have concerns about crime in your neighborhood, contact your precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator.