It was day time on a crowded big-city street in a country far from home.  It seems my girlfriend and I attracted the attention of a gang of bag thieves.

I noticed a guy on an opposite street corner talking on a cell phone.  He caught my attention when he seemed to be pointing us out to some unseen other person.  As soon as he pointed at us we picked up a tail.  Two guys appeared out of nowhere and started following us very closely.  The dude on the cell phone supervised from a distance.

I slowed down our walking pace.  So did our followers. Not a good sign.  The man on the phone paralleled us from across the street.  I made a quick stop and forced our followers to walk past.  They didn’t like that at all and we could tell that it screwed up their plan.

It was quite the study in the criminal assault paradigm.  The two men were obviously together, but walking a half step apart to seem separate.  They weren’t talking.  One guy was pretending to look at a cell phone in a very unnatural posture (trying to look inconspicuous). The other was giving off constant “grooming cues” touching his face, neck, and hair as he nervously kept looking over his shoulder to check our position.

They were obviously up to something.  I warned my girlfriend and slowed the pace even more.  The two guys slowed down as well, keeping the same distance between us.  In between nervous strokes of his neck, I saw one of the men dart his hand into his pocket.  He pulled it out and had something gold and metallic-colored in his palm.  I couldn’t tell what it was, but it looked like brass knuckles of some sort.  Go time.

How to Spot a Bad Guy- A Comprehensive Look at Body Language and Pre-Assault Indicators

Pre fight indicators

– Touching the face or neck

– Wiping at the nose or mouth

– Rubbing the eyes

– Smoothing the hair

– Rubbing the neck

– Scratching the head

– Rubbing the arms or chest as if shivering

– Or making any other gesture that partially conceals the criminal’s face/neck area from view