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Old September 26, 2009, 06:31 AM   #1
MLeake
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Friend got mugged Wednesday afternoon

He'd just flown into ATL, and was waiting to retrieve his checked bags. While waiting for his bags to pop up on the carousel, he decided to use the men's room adjacent to baggage claim.

He saw a couple of guys at the sinks as he walked in, but didn't think much of it, as it was an airport men's room. He set down his carry-on bag and laptop to either side of his feet while he used a urinal.

While he was still in midstream, he heard a voice tell him something on the lines of "don't turn around, don't look at me, just give me all your cash."

He thought it weird that the guy specifically asked for cash; meanwhile he was vividly recalling that the two guys he had seen were a lot younger than him, and both were over 6'5". He told the guy he had a money clip in his front pocket; the guy said to hand it over, but don't turn around.

My friend said he's standing there, with his fly open, and all he can think is how PO'd his wife will be if he gets killed in an airport men's room trying to play hero. So he pulls the money clip out of his pocket, and hands it back behind him. He hears a rustling of money, and then the clip is handed back to him.

The voice tells him not to turn away from the urinal until he hears the door close.

He waits, then zips up and hurries out to find a cop. There is one in the baggage claim, and he makes a report. The cop says there have been several cases that followed this MO recently, but they will check security video and try to identify any men matching the description of the two that my friend saw when he first entered the men's room.

Strangely, the muggers (my friend is pretty sure that large man 1 was the mugger and large man 2 was guarding the men's room door) didn't ask for or take his wallet, ID's, or credit cards; they didn't take his laptop or pilot bag (my buddy is somebody I know from work). Stranger, still, they took all his twenties, but left the ones in the money clip that was handed back to him.

He was pretty shaken up about it. He didn't know if his assailant(s) had any weapons, but wasn't about to turn around to find out. He was quite sure that at their respective sizes (he estimated 6'5" for one and 6'8" for the other) that either one could have beaten him senseless, let alone two of them, so whether they were armed was irrelevant to him.

I've given this a lot of thought, and can't fault him. I wouldn't have thought twice about the presence of people at a men's room sink - although I'd probably have paid more attention to movement toward me, I usually worry more about pick-pockets and bag-snatchers than muggers at airports. In his place, I'd definitely have just followed instructions. In mine, a dozen years younger and with a lot more H2H training, but unarmed (thanks, TSA) I probably would have, too - odds against two guys that size aren't great, especially if they could be armed (which they could have been, if they had come to the airport with intention to commit crimes, and no intention to penetrate TSA screening).

Thinking about it further, I wondered how I'd have reacted if I'd had a handgun on my belt, or my PM9 in my pocket. On the one hand, as it turned out for my friend, he wasn't harmed. On the other hand, there was no guarantee he would not be harmed even though he complied - although the odds do still favor a fairly safe, if cash poorer, outcome.

I'm still not sure if I'd have handed over cash, or told him I was grabbing a money clip but then drawn a weapon.

Thoughts?
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Old September 26, 2009, 07:15 AM   #2
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Turn around and pee on him...

Glad your friend is okay.
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Old September 26, 2009, 07:18 AM   #3
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I see this as a sticky situation, turning around with a gun could end up bad also. The perp may be close enough to grab your arm and disarm you and now you have an angry armed perp. Also if you had to shoot an unarmed perp, there are many prosecutors who just want to make a name. This is a no win situation and I think even if armed handing over the money would have been the smart thing, verse's the macho hurt ego outcome. Now being a thinking man, I am always prepared and this is where Depends would have saved the day and the h#ll with the public restroom! I am always weary of public restrooms as they are a place where one can be isolated, glad your friend made it out OK.
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Old September 26, 2009, 07:23 AM   #4
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I'm not exactly surprised at the idea of wanting cash only - I've heard a couple stories of purses beings stolen from vehicles, and turning up in downtown areas with everthing still inside except the cash. It seems to be a common occurrence that they don't want to deal with ID theft, they just want a quick buck.
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Old September 26, 2009, 07:29 AM   #5
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The most important thing is that he's unharmed. Things can be replaced, life cannot.

Using a public urinal is a bad idea tactically. You're facing away from potential threats, situational awareness is reduced, and it's...ahem...a compromising position to be in with one's fly open. Good position for a gun grab, or for someone to simply bop my head against the wall.

Much better to use a stall.
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Old September 26, 2009, 09:07 AM   #6
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Get the clip fingerprinted
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Old September 26, 2009, 10:55 AM   #7
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As far as I know not the first time for this at Atl. Airports are a great place for something like this as thanks to the .. TSA the bg know folks are not likely to be armed. Glad your friend is ok.
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Old September 26, 2009, 11:33 AM   #8
Kyo
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take my word for it when i say i can legally carry at the ATL airport until the checkpoint where you get your luggage checked.
This is why i always use a stall with a door, even if I have to just go. lucky guy he didn't get hurt. Hope he is ok.
I don't see any embarrassment in asking an officer to accompany you to a bathroom because you think someone suspicious is there. I myself or any of my friends haven't ever been in the situation because we never go alone. Reading this makes me hate traveling alone more.
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Old September 26, 2009, 12:15 PM   #9
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Years ago, I was alone in a Johannesburg airport restroom when a few guys came in together when I was at a urinal. I was in such a hypersensitive alert stage as it was that I shut everything off midstream and started walking directly through them towards the door with a very serious look on my face.

I had been accosted earlier three separate times by guys grabbing at my bag offering to "help me with it." Thankfully I had swung the duffle bag on my shoulder in front of me so they couldn't grab it because once outside I realized I had never zipped up and was fully exposed.

Those guys were probably back in the restroom laughing to tears at the crazy dude with his package hanging out.

I was so glad to get back to America and just worry about the hell known as the ATL airport.
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Old September 26, 2009, 12:29 PM   #10
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This is why I always use the stall and lock the door behind me.
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Old September 26, 2009, 01:48 PM   #11
Kyo
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I was so glad to get back to America and just worry about the hell known as the ATL airport.
I don't think Atlanta is that bad if you know how to handle yourself. But yes, traffic among other things like crime, and stupid people are pretty bad. Very hard imo to find good people around here.
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Old September 26, 2009, 02:14 PM   #12
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Get the clip fingerprinted
Do you really think the ATL cops are going to waste thier time and money over $100?
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Old September 26, 2009, 02:42 PM   #13
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Do you really think the ATL cops are going to waste thier time and money over $100?
Oh that just burns me up.

YES THEY WILL!
Because it may only be $100 from the OP's friend, but multiply that by a few victims and you're into felony territory very quickly.

Cops, by and large, will do their part but only if we do ours!
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Old September 26, 2009, 03:13 PM   #14
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Six foot EIGHT? And nobody noticed them? Such hight would hit the top of sone doors.

Well it goes to show you that when you go to the restroom, and you are not armed, you make sure it's empty before doing anything. And if you pack heat, an appendix holster works very well to whip around and fire. You don't have to see the other guys gun, just have the reasonable fear of your life(and be able to explain that clearly to the authorites.
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Old September 26, 2009, 03:41 PM   #15
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The BGs actually seemed like they planned this one out pretty well when you think about it. Im thinking the reason they only wanted cash and nothing else is because you can't really identify stolen cash. If your caught with a stolen credit card or wallet, your screwed. And someone could describe other items stolen from them, but even if they did get arrested and searched unless a bill is marked a few hundred bucks is not a super uncommon amound for some people to have on them. Chances are they were facing away from the entrance so the victim did not get a good look at their faces. Then have one guy watch the door, while the other guy robs the victim. By the sound of it they would have no problem knocking out an uncompliant victim just with their size, but because it seemed they thought it through, I bet they had some kind of weapon to make that process easier. This is kind of a lose lose situation, but if they are really as tall as your friend said they are I bet they will be caught soon. Giants don't blend in too easily.
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Old September 26, 2009, 03:50 PM   #16
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take my word for it when i say i can legally carry at the ATL airport until the checkpoint where you get your luggage checked.
Careful. The 11th Circuit ruling effectively makes it a felony to carry in any part of Hartsfield Jackson.
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Old September 26, 2009, 04:02 PM   #17
Rattlehead
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"The cop says there have been several cases that followed this MO recently"

This plus what ZeSpectre was saying... possibly. Personally, I'd write off the $100, but the prospect of taking @#(* like this down, it can't hurt to try.

Just my two pesos: if this is developing into a pattern, it's probably worth pursuing.
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Old September 26, 2009, 04:11 PM   #18
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And if you pack heat, an appendix holster works very well to whip around and fire.
I was thinking more along the lines of smartcarry plus a gun small enough to be drawn through the fly of the pants. Not much help in the airport, though.
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Old September 26, 2009, 04:51 PM   #19
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Never, ever use the urinal, ever. Glad your buddy is OK.
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Old September 27, 2009, 01:19 AM   #20
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Well, if he "just flew into the ATL airport and waiting for his checked bags" there is NO way he could be armed unless he was an Air Marshall.

But this goes to show how the lilly livered libs can disarm us, but the criminals don't give a [darn]!

Last edited by pax; September 27, 2009 at 09:52 AM. Reason: removed cuss word
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Old September 27, 2009, 01:38 AM   #21
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thanks for the post..i never even thought of this kind of scenario...
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Old September 27, 2009, 05:20 AM   #22
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thanks for the post..i never even thought of this kind of scenario...
Same here, and I travel frequently. I guess I'll have my Situational Awareness Radar on full swing when I get on a plane later this week.

To OP: Thanks for sharing. May not be able to do anything as far as weapons and tactics go but a good wake-up call for most doesn't hurt one bit.

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Old September 27, 2009, 06:08 AM   #23
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This is why I always use the stall and lock the door behind me.
Me too. It doesn't matter where I am. Local restaurant, mall, airport, anywhere. And I never carry cash.

I'm flying into Atlanta middle of next month, I'll know to be even more careful than usual.

Thanks for the heads up.
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Old September 27, 2009, 10:04 AM   #24
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great, just great now us guys have to go to the bathroom in pairs too?
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Old September 27, 2009, 10:09 AM   #25
MLeake
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Some thoughts about suggestions and questions in the thread.

Since this occurred in baggage claim, outside the TSA area, it's entirely possible that the BG's could have been armed - assuming they were not traveling, but had gone to ATL specifically to commit robberies and thefts. They could also be assured that passengers would not be armed.

Just thinking about it, I wonder why we don't read about more of these incidents occurring. Travelers very often carry cash - my friend was robbed of $200, not sure where the $100 estimate came from in a couple of posts in this thread. He was quite frankly very happy they didn't take his credit cards, blackberry, or laptop, but as somebody noted it may be that crooks know that cash is untraceable, whereas the other items can be traced.

One tip the military gave us some years back, that could be useful for this sort of scenario: carry a throwaway wallet or money clip, and keep the rest of your items in an interior pocket or money belt. You could even make the throwaway look better by putting an expired card in it - I doubt crooks take the time to check dates when they are trying to make a quick score.

I'm not sure I like a stall over a urinal - on the one hand, it limits the BG's access to you, but on the other it limits your own situational awareness. IE, what is lurking outside the door when you come out of the stall? Seems like sort of a trade-off, to me. Granted, there are times when the stall is the only option, either due to building layout or physiological necessity. I'm just not sure that one is tactically superior to another - with the exception that your back is covered while in the stall.

Ok, so maybe the stall does have a slight advantage. I'd still recommend checking for feet in vicinity prior to opening the door.

With regard to size estimates of the BG's, my friend is 6'1" / 230lbs, and he thought both the guys were a lot bigger than him. It's safe to say they were at least 6'4", even if we assume victim goggles making them larger than life. Note also that while my friend is older than me, he isn't elderly by any means, and he's not small - yet he was still selected, most likely because a) he was isolated, and b) he was unaware.

I asked my friend about fingerprinting the money clip (good suggestion, thanks). He almost kicked himself; now he's annoyed that he didn't think of it, and that the APD officer didn't suggest it.

With regard to the risk of pulling a firearm in the men's room (assuming it had been legal to carry - so in theory only): My concerns would have been, in this order: 1) A weapon may already be trained on me, or possibly two weapons; 2) Any miss is likely to go through walls into a crowded space.

I really don't worry too much about turning around only to have the guy disarm me, but then I have a background in wrestling, aikido, and arnis. I'm not quite confident enough to say that if you can take it before I can pull the trigger, you can have my pistol, but I'm not very far from that level of confidence. I do train at weapon retention and weapon takeaways, and highly recommend retention training to anybody who CCW's.

Thanks for all the food for thought. Feel free to keep it coming.
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