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How to avoid getting mugged: A veteran thief tells all

A convicted robber serving 25 years to life, who estimates he's mugged more than 100 innocent people, reveals how to avoid being a victim.
/ Source: TODAY

Every day, people get mugged walking down the street, riding buses and trains — even just getting out the car in their own driveway. How do you protect yourself?

TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen went inside a maximum security prison in upstate New York to hear from David Solano, who's serving 25 years to life for robbery and estimates he's mugged more than 100 innocent people. Here are his tips for avoiding becoming a victim:

Keep walking. A mugger might ask you the time to get you to stop on the street so he can rob you. "Give it to him from a distance, or keep walking," Solano advised. "Don't break your stride; don't stop."

Make noise! "The person that will give you the least resistance" is the most appealing target, Solano said, and often that means "elderly people." However, it does not necessarily mean women: "In my experiences, women scream, so I sort of preferred men."

He added: "A woman one time had a whistle ... That's a great idea: Whistles, air horns, anything that makes noise."

Mace can be effective. "Mace is a great thing," Solano said. But, he added, "You need to have that Mace in your hand, not in your purse."

Never physically fight a mugger. "Unless you're a good fighter, that's not a good idea, because you've just escalated the situation," Solano warned. "It might even make a person angrier ... Give it up. It can be replaced."

Be careful in your driveway... In the suburbs, you are vulnerable to a mugging in your driveway "because you have the garage in front of you and two houses on the side of you," Solano said. He said he warns his own family to look out through the car windows on all sides before opening the door.

...and on the subway platform... Stand in the middle of the subway platform, around people, Solano advised. "Crowds deter robbers, so you want to be around a lot of people even if you don't know them."

...and on Friday. The day you're likeliest to be mugged is Friday "because thieves assume you got paid that day, and a payday for you is a payday for them," Solano said. So be extra cautious at the end of the week.

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