1. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Yes, it can happen to you! When you are walking down the street be sure to look ahead and behind you. Take notice of any groups or individuals that look like they might be capable of aggressive behavior, (e.g. men in hooded sweatshirts, athletic clothing, etc.).
2. If you are walking, avoid groups of potentially aggressive people that are in your path by crossing the street or taking an alternate route to your destination. If you do this and the person follows, you have reason to be suspicious and may want to call for help. If the subject continues on their way, you may be in the clear but continue to be on guard. If you see a group of suspicious people don’t walk past them, find another way. Get into the practice of scanning the street for potential muggers before walking down it.
3. Look around and behind you for groups of people that may be tailing you or getting out of cars near you. Wave occasionally as though you have seen a friend or shopkeeper you know in an apartment window overlooking the street.
4. Use your intuition to assess body language. If someone is about to commit a crime, their adrenaline will be pumping and it could show in their facial expressions and posture. Note where people’s hands are, an assailant will likely have a hand in their pocket holding a weapon.
5. Look confident and adjust your pace. Occasionally stop and stand still to see if you are being stalked. Keep enough room between you and potential assailants for you to get away (15-20 ft.). If you feel you are being followed, pause to tie your shoe, window shop or act like you are waiting for someone. If the person pauses as well, this is a red flag and you should call for help. Never pause with your back towards the subject. Instead, stop with your back toward a wall or large object.
6. Avoid walking alone or in small groups. Use Uber, Lyft or Taxi services.
7. Do not carry excessive valuables or cash on you.
8. Be prepared to take off heels and run if necessary.
9. Imagine possible scenarios in your mind and visualize an escape plan before it happens.
10. Most crimes in Wicker Park happen at night.
11. Make wide turns to avoid ambush positions. Make 3-5 ft turns (or wider) when walking around corners or cars. In other words, do not hug the wall. Attackers often hide behind corners to catch you off guard and minimize your response time. Making wide turns will help you see around the corner, identify anything suspicious, and give you more time to react.
12. Do not wear headphones. When walking alone it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Walking with headphones isolates one of your senses all together making you more vulnerable. If you are exercising and must use headphones, compromise by using only one earbud or at low volume levels.
13. Put your phone away. Smartphones are one of the easiest and most common items to steal. In addition, they serve as a distraction, taking your attention away from your surroundings. Keep it accessible in case of an emergency, but do not bury your nose in the screen while you walk.
14. Do Not respond to any conversations that would make you stop moving. Respond with something non-confrontational like “No Thank You.”
15. When confronted by a mugger, the key thing to remember is self-defense and survival. Your goal is not defending your wallet – it is defending your person and your life.
16. Have a decoy wallet or purse and carry your money somewhere hidden and secure.
17. Distract them, if possible. If you are positioned where you think you can get back into the line of sight of others, toss your wallet near the mugger and away from the direction you intend to run. Given the choice of chasing you or snagging your wallet and getting away, most muggers will take the second option.
18. Criminals use guns more often than knives.
19. Strong-arm robberies can also occur without a weapon. This is the threat of physical violence or an actual assault followed by the demand for money. Why would a criminal rob someone and not use a weapon? This happens when criminals want to avoid any “weapons charges” that add time to their prison sentence, should they be caught.
20. Sign up for email alerts from the following websites to receive info about the dangerous crime wave that is happening right now here in Wicker Park.
Chicago Police Department CLEARMAP Crime Incidents
Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting