What I Learned From Getting Mugged

DeLongpre Park | Photo credit to mercycube on Flickr

There were many things about the place I moved from one month ago that had seen my tenancy surpass seven years, but the one that comes to mind other than affordability is that I was geographically in the center of Los Angeles. I never had to choose – I could drive as easily to Venice as to Silver Lake and come back again. But there came a point where I longed for my own home – even one that came with a neighborhood where I could walk and defy Missing Persons. A community. I was ready to commit to the community of my choosing.

A girl I met last week, subsequent to obligatory introductions, asked, “Into Hollywood?”

It didn’t bother me.

From Farmer’s Market on Sundays to the movie theatre, the largest independent music store and Trader Joe’s – I can walk anywhere, and I started to, immediately. What a nice park I have down the street. And as I walked in my new neighborhood coming to that park I saw the woman, darker-skinned and with waist-length dark brown and blonde dreads. 5’6″, 135 lbs (medium build). Orange tank top, jeans and jean shirt. I would sooner tell you I had no clue what her ethnicity is or countless haven’t surmised my own, eager to prove their ethnic guile and cunning. She crossed the street to turn her back to that fence and fiddle with her phone, as if that spot by that fence in front of me at the time was so much better than that other spot at which she just stood, I think, 15 feet away.

I had the headphones on – and of course this was a no-no after dusk but I was to learn, apparently also at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Targets are what targets do, and thankfully I wasn’t lost in my playlist as I heard those ungraceful footsteps run up from behind me. Instinctively, my right arm - the purse arm - tensed and clutched to my side. She grabbed my purse which was in my armpit and tried to run past. Instead, with my purse still attached to my shoulder, she boomeranged around back to me, whereby she started to land punches on my head and body. (So the witness told me, later. Calling the fight a “flash” in my recollection would be accurate.)

She repeated, “Gimme your purse, bitch” – which in hindsight is not an effective way to coax someone out of their cash, credit cards, driver’s license, Shure headphones, cell phone and iPod Touch – and is also not the greatest thing to say to someone whom you’ve underestimated. With my right arm still clutched to my side determined not to unhook my handbag and not feeling any of the “numerous” blows my helpful witness recounted she landed on me, I kicked back and punched with my left. She careened me towards the white picket fence at June and De Longpre, pulling my hair. I whipped her back around, kicking her in the stomach. We continued as I screamed from within the far reaches of my lungs to the passing cars who probably thought they were witnessing a chick fight, what with my female mugger.

We continued, and after a bit the neighbors finally took notice that this wasn’t a drama over a guy. She went for the kidneys from behind with a weak chokehold and her thumb landed by my mouth. I chomped, my senses too heightened to notice if I broke skin (I know I did). People finally walked up; she ran away without so much as a thing. Maybe handfuls of hair. My prescription glasses were on the sidewalk where she accosted me and a neighbor picked them up for me. I had fought her off, blind.

A bimbo in a Volkswagen New Beetle with a turbo kit and color-matched wheels rolled up on De Longpre: “Was she with you??” If I didn’t need to recover from the adrenaline rush that had saved me a second earlier, she would have been next. The neighbors who came to my aid filled her in: “She just got mugged!!” My witness also recounted that he saw the woman with a white male accomplice, black cap and black shirt.

To the told-you-so’s on my moving into Hollywood from posh Beverly Hills Adjacent: I wouldn’t be deserving of a neighborhood I wasn’t willing to fight for. I look at it as paying dues early, not a pattern doomed to repeat itself. (Yet.) And like I was saying about targets, I learned a few things about my experience:

  • Don’t wear headphones, even in the daytime. Impairing your audial senses shuts down a huge part of your defenses and prevents you from keeping alert to your surroundings. At least, that’s what is assumed by your would-be attacker.
  • Carry less valuables with you – only the essentials – when you’re walking as opposed to when you are driving for transportation. Have less to lose.
  • Buy renter’s insurance. I just bought my policy yesterday (a mere $16 per month) and had anything gotten stolen in my attempted robbery (assault and battery?), it would have been covered under the policy. Well, if I had bought the policy prior to my mugging, that is. Not that my laptop was with me, but my policy also has a $2.50/month rider with $0 deductible that covers my laptop in the case of theft, robbery, or even damage from just having dropped it from my coffee table – full replacement cost.
  • If you see someone on the side of the street getting punched and his/her belongings snatched from her, immediately call the cops. Don’t sit there and gawk. Stupidheads.
  • Parks are prime settings for “transactions” of sorts to take place, so be careful. There’s a reason why they’re often fenced in and closed overnight. Then again, you just never know and can never be 100% prepared, so just keep all your wits about you no matter where you are. The attempted robbery took place at 1:45 PM on a mild, sunny Sunday afternoon.
  • Carry your mace or pepper spray in an accessible place. You still might not be able to get to it, but what if you could…?
  • File the police report, no matter what. This is your own part in calling attention to the areas that need more LAPD patrol cars. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing process in that they dispatch patrol to parts until the crime goes down in that area and ultimately moves to another area – and the cycle continues. Do your part in perhaps preventing another person from getting attacked but also: Claim your neighborhood!
  • Trust your instincts. If you have more to lose by fighting back, listen to that. My instincts were luckily proved correct in that she wasn’t armed since she threw punches right away, and this enabled me to fight back with confidence.

Thanks for reading, everyone. It’s a departure from the bulk of my usual content, unless you consider it more Los Angeles-related material. It’s not a fun topic, but necessary. Stay safe out there.

P.S. – Besides my witness, I also wanted to thank the decent guy in the red Honda Element who made sure I was OK and got home safely for my police interview.