So what’s it like to be mugged? Now I know

An arm snaked over my shoulder. My phone was in the palm of my hand…

Share
Related Topics

All I saw was a hand. So unhurried – polite, even. Snaking down over my shoulder, aiming for my open palm, in which lay – of course – my phone. I was 20 metres from my house, on a rainy dog walk in the park. The hand grabbed the phone. I thought, “This is it. This is what I have warned my children about so many times. I am having my phone stolen.”

I’d never been mugged, even though I’ve spent most of my life in the capital. Burgled, yes. Once, even burgled by the window cleaner. But I have never been mugged. Now it was happening. A scenario which every urban-dweller must have imagined many times over was a sudden, shocking reality. How would I react? I didn’t really know until I was put in that position. Who would? Well, this is how I reacted, and this is what happened.

For a start, I forgot all that stuff about walking away, it’s only a phone, etc. And I also forgot all that self-defence stuff. But I did think, “You aren’t going to get away easily”.

I spun round and faced my assailant. He was six foot, thin and gaunt. In a jumper. I grabbed the sleeve of the jumper, as if he was one of my children running off. Then I opened my mouth and I yelled. Really, really loudly. My neighbour, doing yoga in the top floor of his house (that’s Islington for you), said the longer it went on, the more terrifying it was. I made noises I didn’t even know a person could make. Meanwhile, my dog just stood there wagging his tail.

Eventually, the man with my phone yanked his arm upward, sending me flying into a flowerbed. Only then did I notice two park wardens who were charging towards the man as he sprinted for the gate. Two men from Islington Council who were doing a bit of gardening jumped into their van and sped after him. The police arrived, so fast. Someone must have called them. Then neighbours turned up, some in pyjamas. A runner came on the scene, breathless. He had been alarmed by my screams, taken chase and had had a good look at my assailant. One of the wardens found my phone, abandoned in the wet grass by my assailant, who by then had been fleeing from about a dozen people.

The runner and I both got into the police car. The two officers said that a man answering our descriptions had been picked up round the corner. They debated whether we should do a “drive past” identification. This is not always advisable. Apparently if victims of a crime drive past a possible suspect surrounded by policemen, they are far more likely to assign guilt. The policemen were hesitant. In the end, we did the drive past. The runner and I rubbed the condensation from the back window, and stared at the suspect. We both agreed, it wasn’t him.

So the police took me home. Was I an idiot reacting as I did? Could he have had a knife? Very rare, said the coppers. He was a bit of an amateur, being on foot. Most phone muggers are on bikes, apparently. So far no one has been arrested. I’m the victim of just another unsolved crime. But there’s one thing I do now know, and that’s how I react to being mugged. And how the people around you might react.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A still from the BBC's new rap about the outbreak of WW1  

Why give the young such a bad rap?

David Lister
Israeli army soldiers take their positions  

Errors and Omissions: Some news reports don’t quite hit the right target

Guy Keleny
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice