Street Robbery Safety

Robbery Prevention Starts With You 

A robbery or purse snatch can occur anywhere at any time.

In order to reduce your risk, there are many precautions you can take to prevent that type of crime.

If you know how criminals who commit these crimes operate, it will help you avoid falling victim to them.

Street Robbery Safety

Robberies Frequently Occur:

  • On the subway and at subway stations

  • Around bus stations

  • At cash machines

  • In parking lots and garages

  • In and around school property

  • Robberies typically involve small, high value electronic devices, purses, wallet and jewellery. The following information will help you from becoming a victim:

  • Walk with a purpose and be aware of your surroundings

  • Walk with a friend - try to avoid walking alone especially afer dark

  • Follow the safest route possible--try to keep to well lit, busy streets especially afer dark. Avoid shortcuts and deserted areas including parks and green spaces when dark

  • Be alert when using earphones, as they may serve to target you and you might not hear trouble

  • Do not walk and text at the same time, you will be less aware of what is happening around you

  • Do not ash your cash, jewelry, cell phones or other valuables. Keep their use discreet and put them away after use

  • Be aware of chain-snatch thieves

  • Try to limit your use of expensive electronic devices on transit, in bus shelters or while walking at night as these circumstances may expose you to higher risk, For further information on preventing robbery while taking public transit, check out the Transit Safety brochure or the TTC website

When Accessing and Using Your Vehicle

  • Have your keys ready prior to approaching the vehicle

  • Avoid overloading yourself as this can draw attention to you and make you appear vulnerable

  • Check your front and back seats prior to getting in the car

  • Park in a well-lit, attended area if possible and keep your doors and windows locked

Be “Streetwise” - Not a Victim

If You Are a Victim

If you are the victim of a robbery, do NOT argue, fight or use any weapon. Robbers are unpredictable and resistance in any form may escalate the level of violence.

Your safety is more important than any possession.

Never Chase or Follow a Robber

  • Release your purse/backpack - do NOT risk personal injury

  • Make noise--scream and yell as this may scare o an attacker

  • Make a mental note of distinguishing clothes and features - note the thief’s appearance i.e. height, weight, age, hair colour/style, clothing, tattoos, scars and other prominent features. When trying to estimate their height, weight, age etc., compare them to your own or people you know

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately - do not delay in calling the Police, even if the robber has threatened you; take only the time necessary to ensure your safety, then make the call. Seek medical attention if required

  • If possible also make a note of following information:

    • Direction of travel

    • Time of robbery

    • Whether or not the suspect(s) were armed (focus your attention on size, type and colour of the weapon)

    • If a vehicle was used, a description of the vehicle, plate number and direction of travel

  • Ask any witnesses to wait until the Police arrive. Get their names and addresses if they cannot stay

  • Notify Financial Institutions and Government Agencies of your stolen documents such as:

    • Social Insurance Card

    • Birth Certificate

    • Driver’s Licence

    • Health Card

    • Passport

Other Helpful Tips

  • Inform others where you are going and when you expect to return

  • If being followed, cross the street and go directly to the nearest well lit populated area. If still being followed, go to an occupied home, business or approach a passerby and seek help. If in a park or other isolated area, take advantage of the presence of a passerby by turning towards the person following you and saying “Are you following me?” in a loud, clear voice

  • Before setting out, make a point to bring along only the amount of cash and bank cards that you will actually need. Consider carrying your cash and cards in a security wallet separate from your purse. Leave your purse behind in a secure place if not required

  • Carry your keys separately from your purse or backpack so you will still be able to get into your car or home if you are robbed

  • Never place a purse strap around your neck or wrap it around your wrist as forcible removal could result in serious personal injury


To report a crime anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at: 1-800-222-8477(TIPS), online at or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637)

In an emergency, call 9-1-1

To report a crime to the Toronto Police that is not an emergency, call 416-808-2222

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