Service of Crime and Quick Thinking

April 14th, 2022

Categories: Bravery, Holdup, Theft

Image by Azmi Talib from Pixabay

New York Police Department statistics showed an almost 59 percent increase in crime overall between this and last February with upticks in categories such as robbery–56 percent–grand larceny 79 percent and grand larceny auto, 104 percent. The good news: shootings decreased by 1.3 percent, although I suspect April, 2022 stats will sadly accelerate upwards.

New Yorkers speak about it among ourselves. I dropped by a family-owned butcher shop this week on 9th Avenue a few blocks from the Port Authority Bus terminal. It’s been in business for 90 years. The butcher told me how he has advised his daughter, an NYU student, to walk around the city. He came out from behind the counter to demonstrate–heads up, standing tall, not hunched over looking at the ground. And as all New Yorkers have always known: Be aware of your surroundings. [Me to everyone who walks and texts: Don’t. And lower the volume on your earbuds.]

Image by LillyCantabile from Pixabay

If a victim we can’t predict how we’ll react. A friend who is a longtime veteran of retail sales just recounted once being held up at gunpoint on the upper west side of Manhattan. This was years ago in the age of “knuckle busters,” early credit card imprinting devices. In those days a business needed to submit the receipts for payment. As she scrambled to hand over what was in the cash register she pleaded with the thief to leave behind the credit card receipts and checks. Imagine: Bargaining with a gun in your face.

My mother was that kind of unflappable person under stress. She was held up and asked the young man how much a fix was and asked him if she gave him that amount would he leave her alone. She said he looked scared and new at this–he was perspiring on a cold winter day and wore a nice coat. He could have easily knocked her over and grabbed her handbag–she used a cane–yet he accepted the money and ran.

Drugs have altered the outlook for victims of holdups. As a child brought up in NYC I was taught to give up whatever a person asked for and I wouldn’t be hurt. It was true then.  I wasn’t harmed the time I handed over to three kids my change from an errand at DiMaggio’s deli–all the money I had on me. They weren’t much older than I was. There was nobody else on the street. They took the money and ran. It was so long ago and I still remember the confrontation.

Have you been held up? Do you take precautions when walking in a city such as noticing if someone is following you for a suspicious number of blocks and if so, changing streets or ducking into a store to let them pass by?

Image by Eric Perlin from Pixabay

11 Responses to “Service of Crime and Quick Thinking”

  1. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: I always pay attention and have crossed the street when not happy with what I see on the block ahead of me. (not often) but willing to be inconvenienced for safety.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I do the same though it is what is going on behind me that most concerns me. As you said, it doesn’t often happen but when it does, as it did the other day, I change my route, moving to a busy street. If there’s a crowd ahead I go elsewhere. And I did this long before the threat of Covid.

  3. ASK Said:

    Years ago, I was walking up Fifth Ave. to meet a mutual friend for lunch when a young man joined me, kept walking beside me and demanded my shoulder bag. I was terrified, but then noticed he was shorter than I was. I was so angry, (How dare he?) I took the rolled up magazine held against my body on the same side as the bag, and began hitting him on the head with it. He fled after the second blow. I was so shaken when I got to the restaurant, I ordered a double vodka gimlet. I still don’t know where I got such nerve…

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You took my breath away with that nasty experience! You were SO BRAVE! And reminded me I like gimlets. Haven’t had one in years!

  5. lucrezia Said:

    I’ve been attacked twice, and each time fought back. This wasn’t bravery, but a gut reaction. The second episode caused me to turn off all music and avoid empty streets after dark. I was lucky: nobody pulled a gun. Nobody walked off with much money either, but that’s a story for another day!

  6. ASK Said:

    Easy peasy…one part lime juice, preferably Rose’s Lime Juice, and three parts (yes, 3 parts!), vodka. No more than 3 ice cubes…! Enjoy. (Also works with gin…)

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There is something heroic about women I know! Holy smokes. What a thing. Shivers here.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Yum! Thanks. I had Rose’s in another life. On my grocery list.

  9. Martha Takayama Said:

    I try to always be alert when walking. I prefer bustling streets. I am a little apprehensive even at midday walking on side streets even in “good” neighborhoods. My anxiety and fears have increased with the constant upward crime and violence that permeates our culture. So many of our assaults are aberrant and obviously even the most affluent and sophisticated city in the world and our pathetically dazed and bewildered FBI can’t do much about protecting us, so it is impossible not to be anxious or fearful.

    Having worked as a court interpreter, I always remember that the police always tell you what you were taught to do as a child and surrender whatever an assailant wants.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t tell if there is more crime these days or if we hear about crimes that went unreported before. An 80-something year old woman who was a singing coach was killed in Manhattan recently by a young woman who smashed in her head on the street with a brick. They were strangers. Do we know about it because she was well known in some circles? Would we have heard about it before? Hard to tell. Any society has its share of nuts. What to do about them is another matter.

  11. Martha Takayama Said:

    I do think that our epidemic mass shootings are a phenomenon of the last 40 years. They seem tragically to be more frequently occurring on a daily basis. This behavior seems to be an outstanding element of our national profile,,

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