By the very mechanics of the event a “Purse Snatching” crime has the potential to end in injury to the victim. This is compounded if the victim is elderly or has impaired mobility that would cause them to lose balance and fall to the ground easy.
A purse snatching is different than a robbery with a weapon where the offender(s) take the victims purse. We often see the crime of purse snatching done in two manners:
1. Sleight of hand or deception. This is when the offender(s) removes the purse (or other items) when the owner is either not looking, not paying attention, or has had their attention divided by a distraction.
2. Ambush style attack. This is when the offender, while moving at speed (running), comes up on the victim, grabs their purse, and forcibly removes it. This action often results in the victim being knocked or thrown to the ground by the offender. The victim may also be knocked off balance and then dragged as the offender tries to run away with the purse.
When a criminal offender embarks on a purse snatching venture they, more often than not, don’t have a specific target in mind. Rather they have a geographic area where they intend to commit the crime. This area is usually a location where lots of people go such as a mall, parking lot, commercial district, etc. The victim is a target of opportunity that happens to be moving through that area. Much like an ambush predator, when an appropriate target of opportunity presents itself, the offender makes their move.
There will always be criminals, people who, for whatever reason, believe they have the right to take what’s yours just because they want to. So, with this thought in mind there are two options to keep from becoming a victim. One, resign yourself to becoming a shut-in, order your groceries off the internet, and never leave your house. Two, don’t allow yourself to become a target of opportunity (I prefer option two).
The first step in not allowing yourself to become a victim is situational awareness, taking an active role in your environment. Make it a point to look around, don’t just bumble through life looking at the ground in front of your feet. A common tactic of offenders is to divide your attention, distract you from what’s about to happen. Don’t do their job for them, PUT THE CELL PHONE DOWN! Get your head up and your eyes front. Look for people who appear nervous, out of place, or are just hanging around in an area where everyone else is moving with a purpose. Look for people who are looking at you.
Next is to start thinking about becoming a “Hardened-Target.” Look at what your doing, how your doing it, and what your doing it with. Let’s use a trip to the grocery store as an example. If you carry a purse put it in a shopping cart, then snap it in to the cart with a small D-ring or carabineer. This way if your attention is divided while in the store an offender can’t just walk up, and through sleight of hand, remove the purse from your cart. When headed back to your car just leave the purse in the basket while walking through the parking lot. By keeping your purse in the basket as you move through the parking lot you are effectively removing the target of opportunity.
When you are waking out to your car from the grocery store don’t fill your hands with shopping bags, use the cart. A shopping cart gives you a place to put your purse, as well as allowing you to keep your hands free. The cart can also be used as a barricade between you and a potential threat.
The design of the shopping cart can also be exploited as an impact tool of needed. The rail on the bottom front of most carts is situated in a perfect spot for hitting someone in the shin just above the ankle. The fact that the cart is on wheels allows the user to quickly gain speed and momentum in a short distance enhancing the effects of an impact.
We will never be free of the criminal offender, they are out there, and just like Sasquatch, they’re hard to spot. So rather than spend your days locked down in your house or driving yourself crazy trying to pick them out of a crowd, make an effort and adopt some tactics to reduce your victim rating.