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In a previous article about mugging, we discussed how you should avoid becoming another robbery statistic, or how to deal with getting mugged if it’s unavoidable. The “final option” would be to hand over your cash and valuables, report the incident to the proper authorities and live to fight another day.

But there is another way you can prevent muggers and pickpockets from getting your hard-earned cash – put together a decoy wallet.

Make it Look Realistic

To make a “decoy wallet”, make sure to use an actual wallet. Ideally you should use one of your old, beat-up wallets. Old leather wallets will certainly fit the part, as it’s a commonly-used item and if it looks well-used, no thief or mugger would suspect it to be a decoy that you won’t hesitate to part with. The wallet should appear to hold more than just a functional value, it must appear to have a very personal and sentimental value to you

If you have a plasticky, cheap-looking and new wallet, the mugger who accosts you may become suspicious and insist that you hand over your “real” wallet, or worse, frisk you themselves and do so violently.

Don’t Use a Coin Pouch

Even if you’re a senior citizen, a coin pouch or coin purse won’t look believable and muggers will definitely insist on you handing over your wallet. Having this and only this item as your way of carrying money won’t throw them off and they may demand your real and actual wallet or purse and search you.

A coin purse, which is not a good option to try and fool a mugger with

Carrying just a coin pouch or purse won’t convince any mugger that it’s your only way of carrying money around. They’ll still insist on you handing over your actual wallet (Amazon.com/Genuine-Leather-Holiday-Husband-HBZ01-F-US/dp/B074X8VCV3).

Photo-realistic

To make your decoy wallet look more convincing, insert a couple of pictures of “family”. Feature your own fake “spouse” and “children” by getting random stock photos of strangers online, then printing them out on photo paper. Using photos of your actual family can only put them at risk for potential harm in the future.

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Add a photo of a random cat or dog too if you like. You can “age” the photos slightly by dipping them in really weak coffee and dog-earing the corners or crumpling the “photos” slightly. Be sure not to use photos of famous people as these simply aren’t convincing, or worse, if the thieves are fooled into thinking you’re related to or friends with celebrities, they may demand you give them more money.

Use Fake Credit and Rewards Cards

Don’t limit the contents of your decoy wallet to pictures alone. Add a couple of expired credit cards, rewards cards, and throw in old ID swipe cards if you have them. A few old folded-up receipts are useful too – place any “normal” but useless items into your decoy wallet to add to its authenticity. Don’t include a copy of your current Driver’s License or anything else with your current home address on it.

A Little Cash Works Best

The best, most convincing item to have in your decoy wallet, and is a necessity for throwing any thieves off is cold, hard cash. Don’t use large bills, simply put in just enough cash that most “normal” people would have to cover the usual expenses. Be sure to put in different denominations and the total amount should of course be such that it won’t “hurt” when you have to part with it.

At the minimum, your decoy wallet should contain five $1 bills, a five, ten and twenty-dollar bill. These amounts should be enough to serve as a “diversion” and keep muggers or pickpockets away from your actual funds in your “real” wallet.

It’s not advisable, but you may opt to use “funny money” like the fake money from Monopoly, but remember you’ll have to immediately run away from the mugger when you hand over the wallet if you make this choice. Muggers aren’t known to have a sense of humor and don’t particularly enjoy being fooled. A mugger can turn violent if they discover your “wallet” yields fake bills.

A decoy wallet, filled with a small amount of money, as well as fake photos and expired cards

A well-worn leather wallet crammed with some old receipts, pictures of “the wife and kids”, inactive credit cards, and other seemingly useful and “normal” items and a bit of cash make for a very convincing and expendable decoy wallet
(TacticalIntelligence.net/blog/decoy-wallet.htm).

Keep it Accessible

Your decoy wallet should of course be on your person, and in the usual location – your pants pocket or purse. It doesn’t have to be immediately visible, just where most people normally put it. The more “unusual” locations like your underwear are reserved for your actual wallet. The idea is to let pickpockets and muggers take your decoy wallet and throw them off your real one.

Your “Real” Wallet

The actual wallet you use doesn’t have to be a conventional wallet (or in the case of women, a conventional purse). You can use a money belt, a concealed money clip, a travel wallet or any other “unusual” concealed wallet or pouch. Or, if you prefer and it’s a safe option, you may even leave your actual wallet in your car.

A travel money belt, where you can hold money while giving a fake wallet to muggers

A travel money belt can serve as your repository for your money, driver’s license and credit cards. Have a little cash and “fillers” in your decoy wallet and hand it over to any muggers or let pickpockets take it (Amazon.com).

An ankle wallet, where you can hide your money from muggers

An “ankle wallet” is another option for carrying your valuables
(JaminLeather.com/Concealment-Leather-Ankle-Wallet-p/ac1ankle.htm).

A money clip, which can be hidden to protect money from muggers

Even a simple money clip hidden in your sock, pocket or underwear can hold your actual cash. Just don’t flash it around when paying at the store
(BestBeirut.com/products/stainless-money-clip).

Final Notes

If you can’t beat ‘em, give ‘em your wallet” actually sounds like good advice when dealing with a mugger, but only when you have a decoy wallet. Such a buffer is better than risking your life over a few dollars. Note that a decoy wallet can only “protect” any cash you may have on you, so if you’re mugged, thieves will still take any jewelry, watches or any other valuables. At the very least, it can take away some of the sting of being mugged.

When traveling abroad or walking in any urban or other sketchy areas, use any of the “unconventional” means of carrying your cash, IDs and credit cards and pair that with a decoy wallet. Remember to constantly practice situational awareness to avoid becoming a victim, and if you are still mugged, never hesitate to give up the decoy wallet, run away and report the crime to the appropriate authorities.