A couple in their 70s was leaving a Giant grocery store in Washington, D.C. when a man stopped them to ask for money.
The man gave the panhandler a dollar.
But that wasn’t enough.
The panhandler shouted at the couple. Then he attacked.
The male victim said, “He exploded with insane rage. He grabbed my cane and pushed me away and started whipping us and beating us with my cane.”
The attacker used so much force that the cane broke in half.
The woman was found lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
The male victim said, “I couldn’t defend myself. He was whipping that cane as though he was on some super stimulant.”
Hours earlier the same panhandler attacked a woman and stole her cell phone.
He was arrested after the second attack.
According to the suspect’s father, “He goes off his meds, and it’s just nutty.”
The suspect suffers from mental illness and had previously spent a year in jail for assault.
He was also accused of spitting on two women at the grocery store who refused to give him money.
The couple who was attacked suffered head injuries and were expected to spend a few days in the hospital.
Now, the reality is that street-level criminals like to gauge their victims before attacking. They want to size the victim up to see if they are an easy target.
If the criminal thinks the person might put up a fight they will likely move on to another target.
That said, here are a few of the most common questions criminals will ask and how you should respond.
This is the most obvious one.
Criminals might appear to be homeless or someone who ran out of gas. They might ask for a few bucks to get home.
But when they ask for money, they are looking for a reaction.
They want to see how much you have. If you pull out a wad of $100 bills, they will know you have plenty of money.
If a panhandler asks for money and you don’t want to give them any, tell them you don’t carry any cash. It’s an easy way to end the conversation.
If you feel inclined to help a panhandler, consider buying them a meal or drink and bringing it to them.
First, if someone asks for directions they can easily tell if you are familiar with the area and know the ins and outs.
A tourist is going to be a more attractive target compared to a local who knows every turn.
Plus, if they ask you for directions, it’s human nature for you to point or turn your body in the direction you are explaining.
This will distract you while the criminal can size you up or blindside you with an attack.
If you are going to assist someone with directions take a few steps back to create distance. Then, point them in the right direction.
These days, everyone has a smartphone and needing to ask for directions is less common. So, it could all be a distraction.
The thank you:
If someone asks you a question and you help them it’s natural to say thank you and shake their hand. Yet, you never want to shake a stranger’s hand on the street.
When you shake someone’s hand you are likely giving them your dominant hand.
So, if they have your hand and start attacking you, you wouldn’t be able to draw a weapon to defend yourself.
Another common way criminals will say thank you is by giving you a gift.
For example, they might want to give you a watch.
But while they are giving you the gift, they are likely taking something from you such as your wallet or a piece of jewelry.
Giving you a gift is nothing but a distraction.
When you are in public it’s best not to stop and engage with panhandlers or strangers.
Keep moving and practice good situational awareness. Keep your head up and stay off your phone. Be firm.
The more aware you are the less likely you will be picked as a target.