Some women around Austin have become victims of purse snatching.
Full story. Alas, cannot link the video, but it’s important to watch so we can learn… so yes, click through. (h/t Julianna Crowder)
Seems they are driving around, see a woman and a proper environment (e.g. alone, no one else around), pull over, run up to hear, rip her purse off, then jump in the car and take off.
What can we learn?
Honestly, I’m not sure if “awareness” would have helped here. Everything unfolded quickly, and unless you were jumpy about everything around you, the sounds were normal sounds of the city: a car stopping at an intersection, running footsteps (lots of joggers in this town).
We have to realize, no matter how much training and education we have, while that certainly helps us fare better, it doesn’t make us invulnerable. Shit still happens. So when it does, what can you do in response?
I cannot blame the woman for her reaction: purse came off, she started to fight for her purse via a tug-of-war. It’s a natural reaction, but one she was destined to lose. It doesn’t matter how much you are pro-feminism, pro-women’s rights, etc.,the laws of nature are pretty clear: males are (designed to be) stronger than females, and in a test of strength like a tug-of-war, the man is likely to win.
So what I wonder is, what could the outcome have been like if the victim had a different mindset? Instead of trying to retain her purse by tugging on it, she went on the offensive and tried to retain her purse by attacking the snatcher?
Granted, it might lead back to my first problem of the reality differences between males and females, and she could have gotten hurt more. But if studies have shown that fighting back dramatically increases the likelihood of stopping a rape attack, I think it’s fair to extrapolate that fighting back betters your chances of not being a victim in general. Criminals don’t want a fight, they want a payday.
Another thought is if there was enough struggle, the attacker’s accomplice in the car might jump out and join the attack. No telling what might unfold. This is where weapons help, because multiple attackers is force disparity, and weapons are a force equalizer.
About a month ago, Greg Ellifritz provided some commentary on a purse snatching in Houston.
- What could you do to prevent the attack in the first place? How do you hold your purse so that access to potential thieves is limited? How close do you allow people to get in public spaces? Is that distance different for men than it is for women? If so, why?
I don’t carry a purse, so my advice may be of minimal value. But I have played the role of a purse snatcher in force on force training sessions in the women’s self defense classes I teach. I’ve found that purses held under the arm (like a football) are the hardest for me to take. I would strongly advise women to carry their purses in this manner to reduce theft attempts. I don’t like having the strap wrapped around the woman’s body or neck. The strap may cause injury if the woman is dragged by the attacker, especially if the attacker is in a vehicle like she was here.
It appears in this video the purse was over her same-side shoulder. What if she had the purse across her body (e.g. purse on the left side but strap over the right shoulder)? Granted there’s what Greg said, but certainly such a carry method makes it harder to obtain a purse. Would the attackers have driven on and looked for another (easier) victim? Hard to say, but I do wonder.
As well, she was walking alone. Why? Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but what could she have done to prepare? Could she have kept a canister of OC spray in her right hand, ready for immediate deployment?
Consider the contents of your purse. Since it’s something that could get stolen, are there contents that you may not want to keep in there because they are too precious to lose if stolen? Can your contents be replaced? This is one reason people discourage carrying a gun in your purse, because purses are traditionally such ripe targets for theft – and now they have your wallet, and your gun. Not just the “gee, now there’s another gun for criminals to have and use” but also it means you cannot access yours while in-fight. Same goes for kubatons or OC spray or any other weapon – in your purse isn’t useful to you, once you lose control over your purse.
What did you see?
What did you see in the video? What were your learning points?
Please share in the comments.