Tuesday, November 13, 2012

UChicago Crime Report: Robberies near 52nd and Blackstone/Dorchester

Even with temperatures dropping, violent crime still continues in Hyde Park. Although incidents occur less in winter than in summer months, criminals don't hibernate.

Incident Location Date/Time Occurred Comment
Robbery Dorchester between 51st & 52nd 11/11/12 8:10 PM Two unknown males forcibly took a cell phone from a victim walking on the sidewalk off campus
Robbery 53rd between Dorchester & Blackstone 11/12/12 3:00 PM Unknown male grabbed iPhone from the hand of a victim walking on the sidewalk off campus and fled on foot

There is a temptation to connect these two attacks. They both happened in the same area. They were both strongarm robberies that did not involve weapons. In both attacks, they targeted a person who was walking with a cellphone in hand. All that being admitted, I am hesitant to link the incidents. If nothing else, it appears that the first two attackers forced the victim to yield his phone. The second unknown male simply snatched the device and fled.

That advice is neither new nor surprising. Phone-related crime should never happen to you as a reader of this blog. I feel somewhat like a hovering grandparent ("Now dear, don't talk on your phone when you walk!"). But that doesn't detract from the advice. You should not be walking while talking on the phone, unless you are also frequently scanning over your shoulder and around your route. It does not matter whether you are in the Loop or waiting for the bus at 63rd and Loomis. The same goes for browsing on smart phones. As important as that 43rd page of Reddit is, it isn't worth your property or safety.

More importantly, don't let people get so close to you without indicating your awareness of their presence. Pass on your average-Joe-Chicago greeting of "How's it goin?" or even just a small raise of the eyebrows. Not the creepy eyebrow raise, or the Rock's eyebrow raise. Just a quick "Sup", but with your eyebrows. Or even give a nod. This is a good habit even if you aren't worried about getting robbed. It turns out that the best self-defense advice in this situation is something you almost never hear in self-defense: Be nice and be friendly.

It works no matter where you are. If people walking by you don't wish you ill, then you can enjoy a small exchange from 1950s Main Street. If those people do want to harm you, you have just indicated that you are a slightly harder target than they first expected. By looking them in the eye, you have proven your ability to identify this guy or girl after the crime. By acknowledging their presence, you have exhibited an awareness and alertness that most civilians don't have. At this point, your prospective robber/attacker might rethink his plan. He might as well just wait 5 more minutes for someone less aware and ready to come along.

Most predators rely on surprise. If you negate the advantage of surprise, you nullify their primary weapon. While they might still commit to an attack, you will still have the initiative. Unless you act like a jerk, the small greeting is not going to provoke an attack. If it does, you were probably going to get jumped anyway; at least now you are ready.  

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