How to Think Like a Thief

A couple of weeks ago, there was a crime spree at a well known park not far from where I live.  News reports started coming out that joggers had been mugged, and a female jogger was sexually assaulted before being robbed at one of the park’s restrooms.  These incidents all happened during the day.

I was talking to my friend Jim (yes the same one who had a shooting in his building, but has since moved to another apartment) because he frequently runs in that same park.  He said, “They won’t get much out of me, I only carry my keys and cell phone.”

A few days later, the two robbers were caught.  And do you know why they were robbing people at the park?  Because these thieves wanted cell phones!  They said it was an easy and quick way to make some money.  Even though cell phones may seem like “not much” to us, they were exactly what the thieves were looking for.

Normal people see things a certain way, but thieves see things differently.

What attracts their attention

Even if you think your stuff is not valuable, there may be something that attracts their attention:

  • Your purse looks fat and heavy, therefore it must contain a lot of goodies
  • You have bags in the back seat of your car, therefore, you must have gone shopping.  Nevermind that you might have bags full of containers for recycling back there; having someone break in your car will be mean expensive repairs whether or not you have something valuable.
  • If you have shiny jewelry, you may attract their attention.  Yes, your jewelry might be fake, but surely you have a wedding ring or a nice watch that will have some value.

Opportunity – Don’t make it easy for them

  • I pay attention to people around me at the park, and the majority are not paying attention to their surroundings.  Many joggers have their headphones on, talking on the phone or listening to music, oblivious to everything.
  • Thieves will take any opportunity presented.


  • Some thieves create a distraction to send your attention elsewhere.  When I was 10 years old, I had $15 Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket.  I was at a store, choosing the ice cream flavors, when someone dropped a bunch of coins.  I looked over and helped out, and when I got done, I went to buy my ice cream.  I reached into my pocket and found all my money was gone.  Tough thing to happen to a kid, but it was a lesson learned.

Trust your gut and act on it

  • The first victim at the park felt he was being followed but did not look behind him.  Before he could act the two thugs were already pointing a gun at him demanding his stuff
  • If you get that weird feeling something is not right, trust yourself and do something right away.

Thankfully the crime spree at the nice park is over, but I am sure it won’t be the last.  Try to think like a thief and see what makes you vulnerable.  Doing so may keep you from becoming a target.


This is an archive of: