The worst thing about getting mugged & what you can do about it


Monday was a surreal experience. One moment I was standing outside a suburban gate waiting for pottery class, and the next I was hanging on to my bag for dear life and screeching for help

Unfortunately the strap on my bag snapped before help arrived, and the handbag, its kidnapper and his two friends disappeared down the road along with what basically amounts to my entire life; cell phone, bank cards, ID, driver’s licence, loyalty cards, lipstick and keys for my car and home.

All in all, it was a very ‘good’ experience as far as muggings go

I was left with a bruised arm (from the strap of my bag), and some grass stains. The three young muggers didn’t have any weapons, and so although slightly shaken, I was not traumatised, and I am very grateful for that.

In fact, the most traumatic part of the entire experience was the aftermath: the interminable admin with police, banks, home affairsand so on.

What to do:

I’ve put together a guide on what you should do BEFORE and after getting mugged. A little ominous I know, but according to South African crime statistics, 69 074 street/public robberies were recorded – an average of 189 cases per day in 2014. Rather be prepared than sorry.

Here’s the 'After'

Step 1: Call a security company – if available

My pottery teacher set off his alarm as soon as he heard me screaming. The armed response arrived somewhat nonchalantly around 15 minutes later. By that time, the muggers had almost certainly disappeared off the face of the planet, but the security duo did take down my vague description of the ‘perps’ and drove around the block a few times… just in case.

Step 2: Cancel, cancel, cancel

Getting hold of the bank to cancel my cards was relatively easy and pain-free – they have 24-hour help desks, and efficient employees.

My husband (aka, my hero!) also managed to shut down and erase my phone remotely using Google’s Android Device Manager – all you need are your Google login details, and you can render your device completely useless within seconds.

Step 3: Get to your nearest police station

If you have insurance, you need a case number. For a case number, you need a police station. To get to a police station, you need a car. Which I have. But unfortunately, I was no longer in possession of my car keys. Thankfully my husband was at home, and was able to bring me the spares (thank goodness for spares!!!) and we set off for the nearest police station.   Although the vaguely personable policewoman who took down my statement would not win any speed-writing competitions, she offered some helpful advice for the next time I’m about to get mugged. “You should have waited in your car,” she said. “You should also be suspicious of everyone, all the time.”

Step 4: Go home and have a brandy

Since the mugging took place around 6:30 pm, there was nothing left for me to do except go home and have a brandy. And a bath. And another brandy. And to mourn the loss of some sentimental photos on my phone, as well as my cheap-but-beautiful craft-market handbag.

The real nightmare was to come: the one where I had to stand in the queue at home affairs… for the rest of my life.

Here’s the 'Before':

After getting mugged, you realise that you ‘should have’ done many things. Not necessarily in the situation, but before the situation even occurred.

I ‘should have’:

  • Backed up my phone and my photos
  • Kept my ID at home, and only carried my driver’s licence
  • Specified my phone on insurance (they refused to pay for it as it was not specified and was not covered by household insurance)

Some of the things I’m really glad I had done:

  • Signed up for Google’s Android Device Manager – My entire phone including passwords for social media, and other personal info has been erased remotely. Just in case the ‘perps’ were considering identity theft
  • Kept a spare key for my car – I now need to have another one made, but I’m really glad that I had a spare key, and that I remembered where I’d put it
  • Carry limited cash – The handbag kidnappers got away with less than R10 in small change. Even my car-guard tips are kept in my vehicle ashtray
  • I temporarily changed the security settings on my Facebook profile to allow strangers to get in touch with me – so that if anyone found my ID/driver’s licence they would be able to find me on social media

The good news:

I hoped that the ‘perps’ would grab whatever valuables they could find in my bag, and then ditch the rest. Which is exactly what happened.

The mugging happened on Monday, and on Wednesday morning my husband got a phone call from a man who said he may have found my purse in his flower bed.

He had checked through the contents, found my ID and then Googled my name. He managed to get in touch with a mutual friend on Facebook, who then gave him my husband’s number.

Thank goodness for good people!

He went to a lot of effort to hunt me down. My entire purse was found, including driver’s licence and ID and for that I am eternally grateful!

Because THE worst thing about getting mugged …

… is the inevitable, unbearable and eternal queue at home affairs.

Written by Claire Warneke

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