Humans are cautious creatures who avoid ending up in sketchy situations at all costs. But when you find yourself walking in a dimly lit alley or riding the subway late at night, you can’t help but feel your senses go on high alert, wondering about things that could potentially save your valuables or even your life.
Reddit user lofisky wanted to find out what they are, so they made a post on Ask Reddit: “People with ‘street smarts’, what is your most street tip?” Within just a few days, thousands of people took the opportunity to share their precious wisdom and help people ensure their safety even in the most dire situations.
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Below, Bored Panda wrapped up some useful pieces of advice and put them all in one place for you to read. So take out your notebook, grab a pen, and write down a thing or two on how to protect yourself against threats. And if you still feel the need for some more street tips, take a look at our previous posts right here and here!
Always look like you know where you’re going, even when you don’t.
Image credits: D*ckySchmidt33
There is no shame in running away from a fight.
Image credits: SuvenPan
If someone starts to loudly state that they’ve lost their wallet or phone, don’t obviously or immediately go to check on yours in your bag or pocket. It’s a common pickpocket technique to get people to show the pickpockets where their stuff is.
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Ladies, never leave your drink unattended and don’t accept drinks from strangers when you didn’t see the drink being made.
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If someone approaching you says “hey man, I ain’t gonna rob you” – they’re probably gonna try to rob you.
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Trust your gut. If anyone seems a little too friendly, get away ASAP.
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If you ever find yourself homeless in a big city but want to keep clean because of job/hygiene standards/whatever, look into gyms in the area. Many of them have very low-cost memberships or even free trials for a certain amount of time. Head on in, get your shower, brush your teeth, and get yourself all cleaned up.
Hope it helps anyone who needs it as much as it helped me.
Know where the exits are at all times.
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Always check the toilet paper roll before taking a dump.
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Always put something between yourself and the ground, even if it’s just a piece of cardboard. Especially on asphalt, it absorbs heat and it will feel like it’s sucking the life out of you
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A red traffic light is just a “traffic suggestion” to some people.
Always keep an eye out at intersections for idiots running a red light.
Confirm the license plate and make sure you are getting in your proper Uber/Lyft.
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If you’re uncomfortable with your surroundings, leave.
Your unconscious is often more aware of your surroundings than you’d think. If something you can’t figure out is telling you to go, listen to it.
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Blend in. Everywhere. Even if you’re faking it. And, if you’re faking it, get out as soon as you inconspicuously can.
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If you are feeling unsafe, find the biggest friendliest person and act like you know them, chances are they will understand, help you out and you’ll end up making a friend.
Had a group of young men once nod in a targeting manner towards me in a dangerous subway station in SF, the big dude I sat next to, and acted like I knew, was understanding when I explained why I was sitting next to him, we ended up chatting during the subway ride too. Very cool guy.
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If you’re in the hood and you see kids playing outside, you’re probably safe. If there are a lot of people outside but no kids, be super cautious and walk with a purpose. If it’s empty or only teenagers/young adults, get out asap.
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If someone is asking you for help, but you need to follow them around the corner to help them… don’t. Politely say you’re late to a meeting and keep walking.
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Always get the money upfront.
People who want to pay later probably won’t and then things can get messy.
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Never count your cash in public even if in singles.
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The most practical self-defence item you can own is a very high-powered flashlight, especially one with a strobe function.
Drawing a weapon will always escalate a situation, and may cause any aggressor to fight with lethal force. You also cannot use a weapon pre-emptively except in very clear self-defense scenarios. You can’t shoot someone just because they look shifty. You also cannot legally carry them in many places.
None of this applies to a flashlight. You can legally and inconspicuously carry it anywhere. You can use it without provocation without legal or moral issue.
It is also highly effective. It is incredibly difficult to hit or stab someone who is shining a 1000 lumen strobe light in your face. It can be almost impossible to properly see where that person is, and it will be painful to even look at them.
As a bonus, flashlights are just super handy tools to have in day-to-day life.
Your elbow is the strongest joint on your body… take advantage of it when you can.
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You can get into a lot of places by holding a pizza.
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If you see something potentially illegal going on don’t look directly at them. Especially if you know that you’re not going to be reporting it to the police.
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Men don’t ask women for help with moving or fixing things, they ask other men. If a man asks a woman for help moving something, he’s probably a creep & you should get out of there as quickly as possible.
if you think a violent situation is about to happen, clench your teeth, put your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and drop your chin closer to your chest. never ever ever put keys in between your fingers, and take your hands out of your pockets. and stand staggered, not with feet together.
Well, If you’re traveling, never randomly stop on the sidewalk to consult a map, or appear visibly lost. Duck into a coffee shop or something to orient yourself.
Don’t raise your voice with strangers and always be the last to speak. you don’t know if these guys are wired properly or not
Beware of people who have nothing to lose, and people who have everything to lose.
If an attractive woman asks for directions, look for her partner behind you or going into your car to take what they can grab.
Typical vacation area scam.
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Wear shorts under ur pants keep your valuables in ur shorts
Edit: I always wear sweats I put my hand in my pants to get to my shorts, I think this is the equivalent of women taking money out of their boob
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Exercise your legs. Although in a bad situation they’ll probably feel like wet noodles, if needed you’ll be able to run. It will also show in everyday life that you are capable of moving effortlessly. Most people are sluggish and it’s not hard to notice.
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If a motorcycle with 2 people on it slows down near you RUN esp in South and Central America.
In crowded areas, carry bags, purses, and packages in front of you rather than behind you.
I travel quite a lot, so some things I have realized.
If you find a gas station, and all the windows are covered by ads, so much they can’t see outside. Well, that is because they don’t want to be a witness.
If you stop seeing sidewalks, a lack of street light walking signs, or no more stoplights…that is not where you need to be.
Always keep a change of clothes and some water in your car. Never know when you need it.
This one isn’t so much protection, but when you’re walking and you know how people do that little shuffle thing when they walk towards each other because you don’t know which way the people are going. Well if you maintain a line of sight in a direction, not looking into the eyes of people coming towards you, people will just move out of your way. No awkward little dance.
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If you see the car for too long and it’s bothering you? Do something. Spin that block. Drive illogically. If you spin that block, it will have to follow you in an illogical path. It takes a minute to do this and determine a tail. Don’t ever stop, just drive a longer and more illogical route to determine if you’re being followed. If you’re being followed? Don’t go home. Drive to a hospital ER entrance. There’s always security there. They’re used to crazy. And immediate medical attention if something is bad. And cameras. Lots of them. And all cops can get there without looking it up.
When you’re getting ice cream ask for one scoop first and then act like you changed your mind and ask for another. Typically they will make that first scoop larger than if you would have asked for two initially.
This also seems to work in places like Chipotle.
Walk on the road if you’re in a real shady neighborhood and it’s late at night. Not in traffic but away from alleyway entrances.
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Listen always and speak only when you need to. People don’t know when to shut up.
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Only break one law at a time.
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Always have two or three people in your circle that you trust, and make sure y’all have a code word/signal. one that you can use casually because it’s harmless without context, but it’ll let your people know that something is up
Look with your eyes, not your head.
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Never leave the house in shoes you can’t run/fight in. Flip flops are for the gym shower.
If there’s an emergency in a crowded place, find your own exit. Don’t blindly follow the crowd. Many people in an emergency try to go out the same way they came in, and it can lead to jammed doorways/pile-ups that can trap you. Property damage doesn’t matter in that moment—Break windows if you can, drywall can be broken through fairly easily too, bust out that b**ch like the Kool-Aid man.
You have best friends you trust and share your secrets with, and your best friends also have best friends who they trust and share your secrets with.
Lock your doors as soon as you’re in a car.
Dress like where you are going. It doesn’t have to be exactly like them, just enough to not look too out of place. Also, pretend in your head that you have been there before and feel relaxed even if it’s forced because nervous people attract too much attention.
When a hustler asks “I bet I know where you got those shoes” The answer is always on your feet.
Final reiteration that your smooth little reptilian hindbrain has evolved running from creatures on this planet with big a*s fangs and camouflage, and venom, and claws. Lots of claws. You, as a person, are a little animal… and your personality and identity are an evolutionary add-on that is pretty damn amazing. The cauliflower part of your brain is in charge, but you have an old brain down there underneath it. When the little smooth part of your brain says “Uh, run!” DO IT, NOW. You’re here because THE HINDBRAIN DID ITS DAMN JOB for millions of years. It’s not capable of expressing itself in letters or numbers. It’s stupid. It’s the heebie-jeebies part of your brain. It’s very old. It misfires a lot. It will also give you a fair warning.
Drive in front of a place once before landing there. Get your eyes on it.
Even in daylight, watch for places where the streetlights have been broken. Bad people, who like to hide in the dark shoot out streetlights. If it’s night, and you see a television running in an open window, that’s a kid that might be a lookout. You’ll have the feeling you’ve been made.
Another tip: get to know your local homeless people. If you live in a city and regularly walk past the same homeless people, stop and say hi once in a while. Just have a brief chat and give them some change. Even a smile helps. Believe me, these guys know EVERYTHING about what happens on that block. If you’re ever in trouble, they’ll help you out if you’ve been friendly, or they may just pretend they didn’t see a thing. They can also help watch your car – for instance if someone dings it and drives off, they might even get the plate for you. View the street as their home; when walking on the street, you’re walking through their living room. They can be excellent hosts.
This doesn’t apply if you’re traveling in a new city. Not worth befriending a homeless guy if you’re only there for like 2 days.
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When someone is staring at you looking for a fight, glance and keep them in your peripheral vision, but otherwise don’t maintain direct eye contact except for a brief moment. This exudes confidence yet acknowledged their threat.
Do not keep staring long at them (challenge look), or actually avert eye contact (signing you as vulnerable prey).
Stand tall and at if carrying one bag, or even bags, put that bag in your weaker, nondominant hand so when you’re under sudden attack, you could react faster. DO NOT BURDEN YOUR DOMINANT HAND IN GROCERIES/PURSE/WHATEVER in a high-risk area. It’s better to carry two bags in your non-dominant hand than to have each hand carry a bag.
If you ever get pulled over at night, immediately turn on all your lights inside your car. In my experience, it tends to relieve whatever tension the officer may have since they can see you a little bit more clearly. Plus it’s better than having a flashlight shined in your face.
Don’t act like a victim. Walk tall and keep your head up.
Never show your watch, wallet, or phone in areas known for pickpockets.
Also don’t touch your pockets if you see warning signs, because a good thief will be watching to see which pocket your valuables are in.
And when approached by someone on the street be mindful of who else is watching and what is behind you. Try and keep everything in front of you and don’t be afraid to shout and swear at them to get attention.
If someone puts a gun or knife in your face don’t be a hero.
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If you’re in a bad neighborhood, for the love of god, stay in well-lit areas. The shortcut through the alley will cost you more than the time it saves.
Always walk with traffic coming towards you.
Always know that most people are out for themselves only.
If you get mugged, remember what the thief is wearing (watches jewelry) and tell the police it was yours, so if they catch them, you’ll be a winner.
Stand up for yourself, even if you’re shaking at the core.
If someone goes to hand you something don’t take it by default. People’s muscle reaction is to take something they are handed.
I fell for that once in Hollywood, dude then tried to fleece me for money and would not take the item back. I dropped it on the ground and walked away.
Live and learn
This one may be a bit specific to NYC, but if the subway car is empty on an otherwise busy day, there’s probably a very good reason.
Also related, if someone’s being crazy on the train, don’t engage or respond unless you absolutely have no other choice.
If you are on public transportation, and people are exhibiting anti-social behavior (smoking, playing music on their speakers, etc) don’t say anything. These people know what they are doing and are most likely looking for a fight. They also likely have very little to lose. Ignore it, and if it bothers you enough, get off or move to the next stop.
If you are involved in a confrontation pay attention to the hands. 2 things:
If they reach into their pocket and/or under their shirt you are likely going to be hit with something, stabbed, or shot.
if they are tucking their hands by their hamstring and/or clenching their first while looking you up and down you’re about to get punched.
Run or take the fight to them because if either one of these things are happening you’re already the underdog.
Avoid the loudest person in the room.
If someone asks you for help. Like ‘my car won’t start’ or, really anything. Don’t help them but offer to call someone for them.
I learned this ~10 years ago. I had to do a thing in the bad side of town once a week early in the morning. I would get there ~5:00 a.m., they opened at 6:00 but I wanted to get in and out and leave.
There were a few other regulars at that time for the same reason. One I befriended was a lady named Kim.
We were both there one morning. A couple of guys pulled up in their car ~100′ from us. They got out, lifted the hood made some noise, called us over to help them. They were having car troubles.
Kim told me to stay where I was, I shrugged and said ‘OK’. She walks over, they talk a few minutes, they drive off and she comes back.
Kim says “They didn’t have car trouble, they were going to rob us”.
I say “Seriously? No s**t. Why did they drive off then”?
Kim says “I showed them the gun in my hand”. Then she showed me the gun in her hand.
I said “Oh. OK”
Image credits: Sighwtfman
When you stop your car, always make sure you have enough room in front of you for an escape route. It’s impossible sometimes, but do the best you can.
Never yell back at a group of guys verbally harassing you. Just keep walking. Don’t make a face, don’t change your walking pace, and keep going as they’re not there.
If you see the same car twice get into a shop or store. If someone asks you for the time keep your hand on your wallet and only slightly pull your pocket out the check the time. If you are in a shady neighborhood remove anything that could be seen as a symbol for a rival gang, hats, jackets, stuff like that, it’s unlucky but not worth the risk.
Fighting is not like the movies. Many people won’t fight fair even. You never know what a person’s got in their pockets like a knife or any deadly weapon for that matter. Also seen people go back to their car and get a piece
Also on the other side of the coin, you shouldn’t pull out a weapon unless you absolutely know you gonna do some damage cause that same weapon can be pulled on you quick
If you’re selling something on something like facebook marketplace, you have to be very careful. you’re going to be meeting someone you’ve probably never met in your life. meet in a public place, like a bank, a police station, anywhere public etc. if they’re paying in cash and it’s expensive, count the money FIRST, and make sure it’s REAL, before giving your product to them. anyone who isn’t trying to rob you will be fine with this, especially if you’re in a public place like a bank lobby area.
-card skimmers are everywhere. always make sure by pulling the card reader block to see if it’s real or not.
If you’re on foot, know the outs. Watch behind houses for fences. Assume anyone that chases you knows the area better than you. If you feel like you’re being watched, you are. Stop moving, stop breathing, and listen again. Nobody wants to attack an aware victim. If you hold your breath on foot, in about 45 seconds, you can hear everything. Your ears adjust. Cannot do it while walking and blood is pumping in your ears. You can hear people breathing well over ten feet away if you wait long enough.
Cars: All headlights on vehicles are fingerprints. Every time you look in a rearview mirror, imprint the headlights in your short-term memory. Try to think of what kind of car it is. Learn what headlights and taillights go with what type of car. Make it a game. Keep it as a background thought. It will trigger you when the third turn happens and the headlights are the same.
When you drive to a place in the dark that you’ve never been to, drive in with the windows down and the radio off. Turn off the car. Count to thirty, and listen. On a good night, without air conditioners buzzing, you can hear everything. Then, get out of the car.