The Story Some time ago, A man approached me on the street and asked to use my smartphone. I made suggestions to first go indoors somewhere but he kept insisting. For some reason I relented and just gave him my phone. Then while pretending to make a call, he slowly started moving to a nearby forest. I followed him there. Just before he entered the forest, I asked for my phone back. He kept moving saying things like his friend is waiting there. When he entered the forest, I repeatedly demanded my phone back, he refused. After several attempt at talk, I gave up and left. I did not want to fight. This was mainly due to my naive nature and helpful character.

The Question How do I effectively snatch back my phone from the hands of a thief? And if possible, can you provide a link to a video on how to do it?

  • I can't say this isn't something I've contemplated from time to time when someone has borrowed my phone. My mind usually turns toward somewhat more violent methods if they decide to break and run, such as directing a quick low kick to the knee or thigh. You would probably be better off with using a disarm technique to get the phone back (although, fair warning, there's a good chance it will wind up on the ground, not in your hand). And, of course, there's psychology if they look like they're about to bolt by forcing them into a confrontation. – Macaco Branco Nov 27 '17 at 16:16
  • The thing is, I don't have any practical experience to work from, just hypotheticals. And ultimately, it sounds like your issue was less that you didn't know of a technique to use and more that you felt you couldn't or shouldn't act or resist due to your "helpful character". – Macaco Branco Nov 27 '17 at 16:16
  • One thing to consider is whether your phone is worth as much as your life. A thief who wants to take your phone may be able to gain it through words (as in your example), but failing that they may use threats. If they pull out a knife, would you give it over and then try to get it back? – Longshanks Nov 27 '17 at 17:49
  • Learn wrestling. Learn BJJ. There is no single magical technique to solve this hypothetical. – coinbird Nov 28 '17 at 14:50

Clearly, the right thing to do is to either ask for the number and call it yourself or ask for collaterals such as credit card and driver's license. However, by the time they have your phone, it is too late. You can and probably did brick the phone soon afterwards giving the criminal nothing of value. Your insurance will probably cover the lose.

You did the right thing in not following the confidence trickster into the forest. Nothing good would have happened there. Your phone is not worth getting stabbed over.

You could have reached and grabbed the confidence trickster's arm (just above the elbow is a good place) and used that to control their movement and if necessary use the arm to pin them. However, these moves are not trivial and by then you are in a fight with someone who is a criminal and possibly armed. In addition, they can have backup in the forest.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

Punching, kicking, or otherwise attacking the confidence trickster could potentially land you in trouble with the law for assault. I would be wary of anyone advising such actions.

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  • Thanks for the answers. Actually, the thief apparently wasn't armed, and it was in broad daylight. So much for me being nice and helpful now. This is a precursor to learning martial arts, carrying pepper spray and tazer, and never giving any stranger any of my posessions. – Robert Tattorn Nov 28 '17 at 17:07
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    The confidence trickster was not armed that you could see. They could have been, just never showing that they were to you. Carrying potentially lethal weapons has many judiciary reprecutions: Go talk to a lawyers FIRST!!! – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Nov 29 '17 at 10:15
  • My friend, In a third world country you can even beat the thief all you want, mob justice is the norm, just watch those mob justice videos on youtube. – Robert Tattorn Jan 11 '18 at 21:21
  • @RobertTattorn If one wants to be a thug, one can be thug anywhere. Although it makes such one a scumbag who should apologise to the trees that work so hard to make the oxygen they breath. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Jan 12 '18 at 8:36

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