SEATTLE -- A 68-year-old grandmother walks to her Seattle home in broad daylight when, suddenly, she's rushed from behind by a man who throws her on the ground and robs her. The vicious attack was captured on surveillance video.
Mei Mei Yeung’s screams for help can be heard in the video as she tries to fight off a much-larger man grabbing at her jewelry and purse.
It’s a terrifying scenario that police say could happen to anyone. They say purse snatchers move in as the opportunity presents itself – to anyone and at any time of day.
King County Sheriff`s deputies say they`ve seen a rise in purse snatchings across the southern county.
The crimes are happening outside large retail stores where the thieves circle around parking lots looking for someone with a purse and seize the opportunity to steal.
So, the best defense, authorities say, is not putting yourself in a position to become a target.
One thing martial arts instructor and self-defense expert Andrew Knebel recommends is simply trusting your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is. If an area doesn’t seem safe, stay away.
“Create distance immediately,” Knebel said. “Everybody has a sixth sense. You can sense things, so if you are walking somewhere and it might be in your neighborhood or you`re leaving school picking up your kids or whatever it may be, if you get that weird sense immediately stop, look around to see what`s going on and take notice of it and go directly to where there are people or there might be an area that has more visibility.”
One thing that made Yeung a target was that she was alone and in a secluded area at the time of the robbery. Keeping yourself in public areas as much as possible is a huge deterrent.
But that’s not always feasible. In a world full of distractions, there are still a few things you could be doing to keep yourself safer.
If you’re shopping with your children, Knebel recommends keeping the car locked as you’re loading from the back and locking your door as soon as you enter. But your personal safety, and your child’s safety, is paramount over possessions.
“If somebody comes up and attacks you, I would grab your kid and back up and let them have my stuff,” he said. “Obviously, this is a preventative so, best-case scenario, park in front if you know you are going into a situation where you’re going to carry a lot of stuff. If you got a kid, be very visible, park very visibly.”
Knebel says parents should also teach their kids about these dangers so they know how to protect themselves too.