We are in hard economic times. It is no shock that people will do desperate things to earn a buck. Some people pan-handle, some get another part-time job and some take to robbery. There are many ways to take money from someone. The one that should alarm us the most is the armed and strong-arm robbery. Armed is pretty self explanatory. Strong-arm is a bit different. It basically is the use of physical force or threat of physical force without the use of a weapon. Well, they have a weapon, it is their body. They are going to posture, shove, punch, kick, choke or a combination thereof to separate you from your money.
The problem with this form of crime from the bad guy's perspective is distance. They have to get close to you to commit this crime. This is where they come up with creative ways to get close, such as asking for help, directions, money or questions like "What time is it?" They use this opportunity to get you close and let your guard down, then they can strike. It is my suggestion to avoid these situations through awareness and changing ones direction of travel, but sometimes it cannot be avoided.
Here are a few suggestions. Keep at least a double arms distance from them and portray a confident, prepared and aware demeanor. If they try to close the gap, create the same distance by moving. This usually gives them the clue you are not letting them approach you. Sternly, but kindly tell them you cannot help, or whatever the question is and continue on your way. If you must remain in the area, (such as a bus stop) try to reposition with a stationary object such as a trash can in between them and you. This will give them an obstacle and you a reactionary barrier. The key is to deny them the close proximity to attack and for you to project a prepared posture. In the end of the day, being rude is better than being hurt or killed. Stay Safe!