Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tips to Prevent Purse Snatching

Letting your guard down, even for a second can open the door for purse snatchers, who see an easy way to grab a purse dangling from a shoulder. They grab and run before you even have time to realize that your purse has just been stolen. There are precautions you can take to discourage purse snatchers, here are some suggestions of things to do.

  • Leave your purse at home. Carry necessary items (ID and money) in a wallet, tucked safely in your pocket. If you don't have pockets and/or there are additional items you prefer to carry, such as makeup, keys, and a phone, consider putting them in a bag that wraps around your stomach and can be hidden from view, or a backpack strapped around both shoulders so that it can't easily be snatched.
  • Bring only what you need. Don't carry any more cash or credit cards than you absolutely need to do your shopping that day. Usually, one credit card is enough, and you should have the customer service number handy in order to report the card stolen immediately if your purse is snatched.
  • Walk in busy, well-lit areas. You may think that you're exposing yourself to more purse snatchers, but they are more likely to strike in dark, isolated areas because they don't want to get caught. Walk briskly and confidently.
  • Bring a friend. Shopping is more enjoyable and safer with a good friend.
  • Be aware of the area and people around you, especially if you find yourself having to walk in an isolated or lightly populated area. Look in the direction of a person who might approach or pass you. Do not look away. If you can, look directly at their hands or at what they might be carrying. They prefer to strike and run, and not be recognized. If you do not appear to be vulnerable and will be able to give their description, they just might keep walking past you.
  • Hold your purse with a firm grip and close to your body, whether on a bus, train, or walking. If possible, wear it underneath a coat or jacket. Also, secure the latch or zipper. You might be tempted to wear your purse diagonally on your body (over the neck as well as the shoulder) or loop the strap around your wrist to prevent the purse from being easily snatched, but keep in mind that if someone does try to steal your purse, a hard yank on tightly wound purse straps can cause injury.
  • Shorten the strap on your purse so you can carry it between your elbow and body.
  • Remember that you come before your purse. If someone pulls it away from your hands or your shoulder, let it go! It is more important to avoid injury than save a purse. Never fight to keep it.
  • Report anything or anyone suspicious. If you suspect that someone seems to be lurking someplace that they do not belong, contact security if you are in a mall, or contact the manager if you are in a supermarket. Better to report your suspicions and be wrong, than to ignore it and be robbed or hurt.
  • Don't leave your purse in your shopping cart or on a counter, even for a moment. Don't hang your bag on a stroller or on the chair or table beside you.

Keep in mind that most purse snatchers strike from behind the victim.

U.S. Credit Card Assistance Numbers

  • MasterCard 1-800-MC-ASSIST (622-7747)
  • Visa 1-800-VISA-911 (847-2911)
  • American Express 1-800-528-4800
  • Discover 1-800-DISCOVER (347-2683)

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