posted on Nov, 18 2017 @ 09:09 AM
We had a run of “robbed at gunpoint” topics last weekend, which have inspired me to tell the story of my own two-part encounter with a
badly-prepared young mugger.
About twenty years ago, I was working (at a very low level) for a financial institution near the Tower of London. One might almost say that I was
working “in the City” (though the office building was technically outside the City boundaries, in the borough of Tower Hamlets).
It was my custom to spend my lunch hours on a long walk, for the sake of the exercise. Normally in the same direction, away from the crowds and
So there I was, one day, walking along Cable Street- the Docklands Light Railway on my left, and a mini housing estate on the right.
This was near the beginning of the school holidays, which may be relevant.
A lad on a bicycle came up beside me and asked me the time, so I told him.
I won’t tell you what his skin colour was, which tells you what his skin colour was. His hood was up, but I noticed that he had a rather aquiline
I don’t have a loud voice, which may have influenced him in deciding to make his next move.
He dropped his voice and muttered something which my ears eventually translated as “Where’s yer wallet?”
Then he amplified, clapping his left hand on my right shoulder; “Don’t move- where’s yer wallet- I’ve got a knife- if you don’t give me your
wallet, I’ll stab the F out of you”.
I ignored the first instruction, so this conversation was taking place on the move.
My response was the only semi-heroic “Don’t be silly”. I may have added “Go away”. I wasn’t feeling any fear, because the situation seemed
so unreal. In the middle of the day? Two minutes away from the office?
He did have a knife. He was holding it in his right hand, the same right hand that was clutching the handlebar of a moving bicycle.
This exchange was repeated over the next few yards. Then I dropped back behind him, thus pulling away from his hand, and crossed the road. There was a
line of parked cars on that side, but no people were visible.
He wobbled on the bike for a moment, as if wondering whether to follow me across, and then he rode on.
Once he had gone, I crossed the street again and continued walking.
You might ask at this point “Why didn’t you just push the bike over?”
I told my father about this episode, the next time I visited him. A little later, he was chatting to my uncle on the telephone and I noticed that he
”improved” the story- “He pushed the boy away”. Evidently that’s what he thought I should have done.
I asked myself the same question almost immediately. But when I analysed the situation at leisure, I realised that this would have been a mistake..
As long as the boy was on a moving bicycle, he was making life difficult for himself. His knife hand was controlling the bike, you will recall, and
his left hand was trying to control a moving pedestrian.
Any attempt to carry out his threat would involve some very awkward juggling. He really needed four hands for the task.
If I pushed him over, these difficulties would disappear. He would probably be on his feet in a moment, still holding the knife, and with both hands
He was much less dangerous on the bike than he would have been off it.
The second stage of the encounter came further up the road. As I came up to the next crossroads, I noticed him lying in wait on the opposite side of
the street, still on his bike but slightly hidden on a sunken path.
So I decided to turn the tables on him and approach him. His reaction was to flee back along the edge of the housing estate while I followed at a
brisk walk. Then he seems to have doubled back to the crossroads.
Now another factor came into the equation. A previous victim had complained to the police, who sent a couple of officers to investigate. They saw the
boy, but he was concentrating so much on watching what I was doing that he did not notice them approaching.
Then the officer said “Excuse me, mate…” and the boy shot off like a rocket.
My first warning of this development came from a shout further up the street. The bike came hurtling down the footpath in my direction. In an ideal
world, I would have been well placed to block him. Unfortunately I was off the main path and a little slow on the uptake.
There was a police officer running in hot pursuit, and a WPC (Woman police constable) running just behind them. The WPC stopped to take a statement
from me, incidentally giving me the background information of the previous paragraph. She explained the usefulness of a bike for a quick getaway round
the corners of the housing estate, which was why “they” favoured them.
I could not help noticing that her pupils were contracted. In other words, she disapproved of me, possibly because of the risk I was taking in
entering that cat-and-mouse game.
Meanwhile, her colleague returned from his unsuccessful chase to take their car for a tour through the estate, but the boy had disappeared.
I received a letter, a few days later, offering me “victim support”, which I did not need.
The experience of frustrating that mugger had put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. For the rest of the year, indeed.
I used the same route for my “constitutional” every lunchtime as long as I worked in the area, but I never saw him again.
Hopefully, meeting a disconcertingly unpredictable victim and being chased by the Old Bill was such a discouraging first day of “work experience”
that he decided to go in for a different career.