When you travel abroad for business there is a very good chance that you will be identified as a foreigner to that locale. The local criminals will perceive that you are comparatively wealthy and likely to be carrying phones, electronics, jewelry, and cash, all of which are tangible and inviting to the criminal fraternity.
The locations that will be of increased risk to mugging are those with a large disparity between socio-economic groupings, a difference between the haves, and the have-nots. This does not mean that everyone is out to “get you” – in-fact, usually it is quite the opposite. But, what it does mean, and is proven time and time again, is that as travelers in a foreign country you, your employees or your executives traveling abroad are often easy targets for the criminal community (both opportunistic and organized crime).
Whenever travel risk services, the core focus at all times should be situational awareness – working to identify threats early to avoid danger. This should be a relaxed awareness that works consciously and subconsciously. But, what if the worst case scenario does occur? How should one react to a threat, such as a mugging?
Think “Oh CRAP™”
CALM – Keep calm, maintain composure and awareness of what is going on around you. Don’t panic. Panicking is the worst and most unproductive thing to do. This is much easier said than done, but just the process of thinking to yourself CRAP™ and focusing on being calm will help you keep a clear head and make better decisions.
RAPID ASSESSMENT – Make a rapid assessment of your situation. What is the threat? What or who could do you harm? What or who is available to assist you, or can you extract from the situation? Just a few seconds spent on coming up with a plan rather than running blindly or reacting wildly will significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome.
PROACTIVE – Having made the assessment make a proactive decision, on your terms, of what to do thus allowing you to take the initiative and not have to react to what may be developing in front of you. An old saying goes – any decision is better than no decision. This is often true, especially if you have made a calm and rapid assessment of the threat/snow you have to be proactive, hopefully removing yourself from the threat/situation early to avoid the danger. But, worst case scenario, if caught in a dangerous situation you have a plan, you put it into action and you decisively work for a positive outcome.
For example – if you think you are about to be a victim of a mugging. Think CRAP™: Stay CALM, breathe and take a couple of seconds to maintain composure. Look around, look at the threat and make a RAPID ASSESSMENT. Is there enough time to run? If so where do you run? Do they have weapons? If so, what type – is it a knife or a gun for example?
In this example, running is not an option so you assess that you must comply and handle the situation calmly and under control. You PROACTIVELY remove your watch and hand it to them, you take off your bag and do the same, slowly, deliberately handing them your wallet. Avoiding eye contact but being confident, neither showing disrespect nor complicating the matter, but ready to protect yourself – this was your plan, and you are proactively putting it in place.
Your composure allows you to help the hostile attackers stay calm and thus less likely to panic, or get angry and hurt you. When you have handed everything over, they start getting aggressive and talking to each other, looking at you, you spot a break in traffic, and you run away shouting for help at the nearest shop. Local business people come out and help, calling the police and scaring the muggers away.
More often than not travelers get injured or killed due to slow or poor reactions to danger. The CRAP™ system works in close conjunction with situational awareness and threat identification.
Consider taking travel safety training prior to departure.