How to Stay Safe From Nihilist Muggers: Sorry, You Can't

St. Louis stranger-danger - Image via
St. Louis stranger-danger
Daily RFT has noticed a disturbing similarity running through three recent muggings in the city (and KMOV-TV Channel 4 has noticed it too). 

The incidents went like this:  

(1) A victim got accosted by a perpetrator,
(2) the victim handed over all his/her valuables as demanded, but 
(3) the victim still got shot anyway 

One might think, "Ah well, the victims must've made some kind of a mistake." 

So first of all, what's the right way to handle a mugging?

We asked St. Louis Metropolitan Police spokesman David Marzullo who e-mailed us this: 

"It's always best to relinquish your possessions in the event of a robbery." 

OK. But these victims did that. Maybe they looked at the perps in the face? 

"We have not received any specific information that these shootings occurred because the victim looked at the suspect," Marzullo writes. 

He also wrote that following certain commonsense guidelines -- such as being aware of your surroundings and not having valuable stuff in plain view --  will deter muggings. He adds that travelling with a companion also helps. 

But the latter is clearly not foolproof: In one of the incidents, a couple was targeted near Grand and Shenandoah. (And your reporter knows a different couple that was recently mugged just a few blocks to the west.)

We're reminded of that scene in Schindler's List when that Jewish woman, Helen Hirsch, is in the wine cellar talking about how the evil Kommandant (played by Ralph Fiennes) shot a random woman on the street through the throat: 

She was just a woman on her way somewhere, she was no faster or slower or fatter or thinner than anyone else and I couldn't guess what had she done. The more you see of the Herr Kommandant the more you see there are no set rules you can live by, you cannot say to yourself, "If I follow these rules, I will be safe."

Here, you can still follow all the rules and still get shot. That's just the truth.

Not to say you should surrender to panic and shutter yourself inside like a hermit. But there's an assumption in St. Louis that shootings happen for a reason -- to snatch someone's property, to settle a beef or revenge. If random victims are cooperating with muggers and STILL getting shot, it's no longer crime. It's more like terrorism. 

Marzullo concluded his e-mail with this: 

"Ultimately, a victim needs to take whatever actions they feel are in their best opportunity to stay safe at that particular moment."