Don’t give up the chase – career lessons from an attempted robbery

Don’t give up the chase – career lessons from an attempted robbery | Mildred Talabi

Today something happened to me that has never happened before in my 21 years of living in inner city London. Today I got robbed.

Like most people, I had always imagined that “bad things” happen at night in dark alleyways, so I didn’t give a second thought to parking my car at ten in the morning and making the short walk down to my work place in Bermondsey.

I had my phone in one hand, my handbag strapped on one shoulder and a larger bag in the other hand. I was very much aware of my surroundings – I’ve been making this journey for nearly four months now – but also very much into checking through my emails and replying to tweets as I walked (a bad habit that’s got even worse since I got my Galaxy S2 with all its great apps!).

A strange roar…

As I crossed the road I heard the strange roar of a vehicle and I looked up and saw two guys on a quad bike drive past me in the other direction. I thought it was an odd choice of vehicle, and for that time of morning, but I thought nothing more of it and carried on with my phone pre-occupation.

Thieves on a quad bike | Picture courtesy of dirty_dan (Flickr)

The quad bike where it belongs – in the desert, not the streets of south east London…

I heard the bike stop and turn around and the next thing I knew there was just one guy on the bike and before I had the chance to wonder where the other one had gone, I felt the second guy run up beside me on the right and snatch the phone from my hand.

No matter how much you theorise it, you never know what you’re going to do in a situation like this until it actually happens to you. There was about a millisecond from the time he took the phone to the time my mouth opened and shouted, “Give me back my phone!” and my feet started running after him.

I gave chase with every bit of strength and speed I had, even with the two bags I was carrying – I had no other thought in my head except that I needed to get my phone back!

It’s MY property!

I didn’t want the phone back because it was valuable in price; I didn’t even want it back for all the precious and sentimental pictures and videos of my life I had captured in the nine months or so of possession; no, my sole reason for wanting the phone back was simply because it was MINE!  How dare this guy take MY property???!!!

That thought propelled me like a bull terrier after an ankle. Fortunately the guy was rather stocky and from the surprised look in his face as he kept turning back to see me right behind him, he hadn’t anticipated such a reaction from someone who just a few moments ago had looked just like the right kind of vulnerable target. And it appeared that neither had his crime partner who was attempting to speed away on the bike, eager not to get caught himself.

Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung Galaxy S2 – the object of desire

After about two minutes of hard chasing and shouting, the guy turned round, hurled some expletives at me and threw the phone at my feet before jumping back on the bike and the two of them roared off into the distance.

I got my phone back!!!

A lucky break…?

Recounting the experience to the police and my family, everyone remarked on how lucky I was that the outcome was as it was (I have my Lord Jesus Christ to thank for that!), but they also said it was risky to give chase the way I did.

In reflection, I admit that on the one hand what I did was potentially foolish – I mean, the guys could have easily had some kind of weapon, and of course no phone is worth my life…

But on the other hand, it reminded me that in life, there are some things that you can only get if you’re willing to run after it. It doesn’t matter if what you’re running after is your stolen property or the job of your dreams, if you give chase and not give up along the way, I believe that you will eventually get the desire of your heart.

Of course I’ve also learnt the lesson to be much more vigilant when I use my phone in public!

So what would you do if you were in that situation? Do you think there’s another lesson I’m missing in all this? As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments box…


  1. Neunetworks /

    Yes Mildred, you are (a)Lucky (b) God had your back (c) Running on adrenaline because it could’ve been worse chasing a a mugger. I’ve had a similar experience and when I gave chase and the thief made threats I knew that’s all they were.
    Moral of the story isn’t ‘don’t chase muggers’ it’s ‘don’t be an easy mark’. Keep your S3 hidden and I hope all those who adorn their heads with £250 headphones are reading this. It’s not £250 headphones to a mugger it’s £50 cash to them.

    •  @Neunetworks Clement Oke I think you’re spot on on b & c, and also the moral, though I admit it’s really hard not to use my phone in public when so much of what I do needs to be done on the go. I guess I – and the headphone wearers – really do need to be more careful, especially in certain areas. Lesson truly learnt…

  2. Neunetworks /

    By the way I love the analogy – works for me

  3. CallieDeon /

    Other lessons? Ok…. Sometimes we are so distracted with the cares of this world, that we take our eyes off the prize. In times like that, we leave ourselves open for evil doers to take what is not theirs. That means we are giving them the authority, instead of us already standing, walking in it! When you park up tomorrow, seek ye first something greater than ‘tweety pie’ or email, until you get into work. Agape

    •  @CallieDeon lol, gotta love your perspective Callie, and yes you’re right, distractions open the door to adversity – it’s definitely made me more vigilant moving forward…

  4. Bess Obarotimi /

    Wooo, you brave girl. I always thought is situations like that I would just let them have it. Well done and Thank God for that. That was definitely God. They didn’t have to turn around and give it to you. And. they could have got violent. Thank God for you life. More blessings in Jesus Mighty name.

    •  @Bess Obarotimi You’re definitely right Bess Obarotimi, I’m almost glad I didn’t get the chance to think about the possible outcomes before I acted! Thank God indeed!

  5. Great post! as for chasing the guy? I am not sure about that, he’s lucky you didnt catch him @CallieDeon 
      interesting thoughts, I have to say whether mildred was on her phone or meditating on “somthing higher” this would have happened, in fact she could have been “tweeting something spiritual” (thank God for technolegy) , when people want to do bad they do BAD. Good things happen to BAD people, and bad things happen to Good people, all we can do is choose how we react to them. I don’t believe in walking in fear ( only using you phone in certain places…..except the library lol) I also don’t believe that if you are thinking about “something higher” then someone’s not going to try and mug you or I would have been mugged 10000 times. Shalom Selah

    • @malachispeaker Thanks for the support Malachi, and you’re totally right – bad things happen to good people and vice versa. Life isn’t always as black and white as we’d probably wish for…

  6. Tony Badcott - Careers Plus /

    Mildred, well done in taking the action you did. Not sure if anyone saw you in hot pursuit but if they did you set a great example to follow as the more people who stand up to be counted the less likely we all are to get robbed! Equally the more people who stand up rather than walk on by means we have a more civilised society – remembering the parable of the Good Samaritan.
    However, next time keep your pepper spray ready for use!

    • mildredtalabi /

      Hi Tony,

      Thank you very much for the encouragement – the good news is the police called me today to say they’re getting ready to make an arrest as this wasn’t the first time the robbers have struck, though it was the first time they hadn’t gotten away with it!
      I know it can be dangerous at times but like you I believe that when it’s safe to do so, we really should stand up to these bullies.
      But yes, pepper spray in the eye would probably have got the message across just as effectively! 🙂


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