Travel Safe: 6 criminals to watch out for on the subway

prague metro subway
Be it on the subway at home or overseas, stay alert. Here are 6 criminals to watch out for on the subway.

Subways are a criminal’s paradise. Due to the crowds during morning and evening rush hours, criminals take the opportunity to strike, especially on the unsuspecting office worker who is about to doze off, the vulnerable female student who appears too scared and soft-spoken to call for help, or that tourist fumbling with her bulky bags.

Should a woman dress more conservatively to avoid crimes?

The first three criminal acts listed here are against women and it is The Travelling Squid’s belief that a woman should not have to dress herself more conservatively in order to avoid such crimes. Reason being, such crimes will still occur no matter the woman is decked out in a long sleeve shirt and pants.

What a woman should do, is not to doubt herself, (for example, think that it might be an accidental brush and try her best to forget about it). Don’t be afraid to confront the criminal. Even if you might not have sufficient evidence to get him locked up behind bars, he will at least think twice before striking on someone else. It’s for the greater good of the community.

Here are six criminals to watch out for on the subway, and some ways to make sure they do not get off, scot-free. Just remember, such criminals exist in any city in the world, no matter how safe it is supposed to be.

criminals to watch out for on the subway
The butt grabber

1. The Molester

This is perhaps, the worst kind of crime that is done against women. There are several ways of how The Molester can strike.

a. The Butt Grabber

The Butt Grabber strikes mainly on escalators and in train cabins. He targets distracted women who are busy using their phones.

He usually moves quickly, or on the sly, and aims for the victim’s butt from an awkward angle, such that when she turns around, the perpetrators appears to be someone else, usually an innocent guy who is also distracted by his phone.

During the rush hour, The Butt Grabber strikes when the train has reached a train interchange, and there has been a large movement in passengers. The culprit, taking advantage of the movement in people, takes the chance to touch the victim. He does not only do it once, but makes 2-3 attempts before exiting the train.

How to react?

When touched, immediately turn around and try to identify the culprit. If you are confident that it is the person, shout, ‘Hey, why are you touching me?’ If he is innocent, he will deny profusely. And if he has seen the perpetrator, he would have pointed in the direction of the culprit.

This is not the time to be confused. Exercise your judgement. Does the culprit look like he is lying? If he is, be firm and insist that he comes with you to see the subway staff. Ask for witnesses, and if they had seen the act. Hopefully there are some kind souls out there who will help you out.

b. The Elbow Invader

This happens usually on the train when both parties are sitting down. The guy usually folds his arms and leaves his arms jutting out wide. Slowly, he wriggles them in an outward motion until he comes into contact with the victim’s chest. At the first time, the victim usually assumes that it is just an accident. She may give an annoyed look or shift away. The guy then continuing wriggling his elbows closer towards her chest.

c. The Weirdo Who Sits Too Close

This is a rather grey area and you have got to assess whether that guy 1) really has a big butt and hence has no choice but to sit close to you, or 2) is really doing it on purpose.

How to react?

For Criminals B and C, the best action you can take will be to get up and leave your seat.

If you’re the braver and the more courageous sort, you can tell the person politely and loudly that he is making you feel very uncomfortable. For example, ‘Do you mind moving your elbow towards your side because it’s making me feel very uncomfortable?’ Say it loud and clear for all to hear.

If he becomes confrontational, he is probably guilty, or has a lecherous intent. In that case, suggest that both of you speak with the subway staff, or call the police.

Confronting these criminals is for the greater good of the community. These criminals operate on the premise that women would choose to suffer in silence or doubt themselves when such grave acts of injustice have been done on them. If you don’t confront them, or at least show that there is a possibility they are going to get exposed and caught, they are going to continue preying on other women and girls out there.

For innocent guys, if you see such a misdeed happening, it can be a little tricky on how to react next. If the girl turns around and gives you an accusing look, immediately point in the direction of the molester. It is not that you’re creating trouble, but putting a right to a wrong.

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pinhole shoe camera criminals to watch out for on the subway
I am appalled. Such shoes can be bought online for USD320!

2. The Upskirt Photo-taker

Silence and stealth is this criminal’s modus operandi. On a busy escalator, he stands very close to you. And with a flick of his smartphone, he gets a photo of you – of a very personal and private area! Sometimes, a pinhole camera can also be found on the criminal’s shoe. Such shoe cameras can be easily purchased online, as seen from the photo above.

Prevention is better than cure

When taking the escalator up, especially on escalators which are long in height, hold your dress or skirt close to you. Either that, you can always turn sideways. In that way, you can monitor what’s going on behind you. When taking escalators, put down your phone and don’t be distracted. Pay close attention to your surroundings.

How to react?

In an unfortunate situation and you suspect someone doing that to you, quickly scan your surroundings and ask for witnesses. Chances are, the perpetrator has got to stand really close to you in order to take a photo, and people may find him being very suspicious.

If you find his behaviour very suspicious when being confronted, eg. he becomes very defensive when you have not accused him of anything and he offers to show you his phone without you asking, chances are, he could be guilty.

Depending on the effectiveness of the police in the country you are in, instead of asking to look at the photos on his phone, call the police when in doubt. There is no point of you looking at the photos because there is a high chance he could have saved it into a secret folder of his phone.

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Ogling celeb
Ogling man can be found anywhere, especially on the subway. Source:

3. The Ogler

Ogling at someone is not a crime in most countries, but it can lead to criminal acts of points 1 and 2, and that is why you’ve got to be alert. The Ogler tends to target women wearing fitting clothes or just gentle, vulnerable women who look like they are unlikely to fight back.

How to react? 

If you notice someone staring lecherously at you, put on your fiercest glare, look at him straight in his eyes. If you continue to feel uncomfortable, move aside from view.

A more courageous and civic-minded approach would be to whip out your smartphone and take a photo of that perpetrator. There is a high chance he would get jumpy when the photo is taken. If he questions you, just reply,”Uncle, you have been staring at my chest for the past 10 minutes. I have got to take photo and warn all my friends!” Hopefully there will be some witnesses around you who will join you in shaming him.

Through the use of social media, you could spread some awareness and warn all your friends. It is also The Travelling Squid’s view that if The Ogler gets shamed more often, both on the train and on social media, it is likely that he would stop his act.

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pickpocket criminals to watch out for on the subway
Be careful of those belongings! With credits:

4. The Pickpocket

I’m sure you have heard about stories of how pickpockets work. Pickpockets can work in pairs. When the train comes to a stop at a station, someone will be there to distract you, with a baby, or by dropping something, or bumping into you. While you are busy checking the pocket which was bumped into, the Pickpocket B then goes for your bag, or vice versa.

Prevention is better than cure

It’s always important to keep a firm eye/ hand on your belongings. If you’re carrying a backpack, keep it in front of you. Keep your valuables in the hotel safe as soon as you can. Chatty tourists or tourists touting multiple numbers of bulky luggage are usually the prime targets.

Remember, The Pickpocket is highly trained and has really nimble fingers. You may keep your wallet in the inner lining of your jacket, but for some reason he/she would have managed to get hold of your wallet without you realising it.

If you discover that your wallet is gone and have a suspect in mind, go after him. Chances are, he is more afraid of you and will proceed to run when accused. A Friend B was so brave that she chased after the culprit and pulled up his shirt. He had hidden the wallet at the waistline of his pants and she snatched it away from him. The story ended well as she managed to get her wallet back. But not many others have been as lucky.

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criminals to watch out for on the subway
Robbery on the subway is less likely, but still possible. With credits:

5. The Robber

The Robber tends to operate at isolated subway exits, usually late at night. Do avoid walking alone especially at quieter sides of the city.

How to react?

When threatened with a knife, always remember that your life is more important that the $200 in your wallet, your Samsung S5 and your passport. Assess the situation. At times, The Robber can be quite emotionally unstable so it is important to be the calm one. Avoid the any mention of Police as that may trigger him into harming you.

Position yourself as a helpless tourist who just wants to return to your hotel safely. Pass on the money and firmly insist that he should harm you at no costs.

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bag snatcher subway
Keep an eye of your bag!

6. The Bag Snatcher

The Bag Snatcher preys on women mostly, who carrying tote bags that sling on their arms. Similar to The Pickpocket, The Bag Snatcher preys on women who are distracted, chatting away or do not appear to be observing their surroundings. The Bag Snatcher tends to operate at the exits of the subway, where he is free to hop on a waiting motorcycle by the side of the road. Either that, he could be found lurking at subway platforms, waiting to snatch the bag and speed off onto a separate platform into another train.

How to react? 

Unless you are a sprinter or a badminton player, chances of you out-running Mr Bag Snatcher is probably quite limited, especially if he is professional. Therefore the only option is to try and give chase, and scream very loudly ‘Thief!’ and ‘Robber!’ with the hope that people will help you.

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I sincerely hope that you will never have to meet such criminals. But in case you do, just always remember to keep calm and call out for help. With the help and support of each other, let us keep our subway systems as criminal-free as possible. Not just for ourselves, our loved ones, but also because having a safe ride from one destination to another is Anybody’s and Everybody’s prerogative.