As Thalia Heffernan Is Attacked, We Look At The Rise Of Street Crime & How To Be Streetwise

Model Thalia was attacked as she made her way to a casting call, but street crime is sadly on the rise. How can you protect yourself and what do you need to know?

woman walking alone at night

How to stay safe on the streets

  1. Get off your phone: The number one target for the street thief is your smartphone.
  2. Don’t wait alone at bus stops/for taxis: Why not Hailo while you wait in a newsagents for the taxi to arrive?
  3. Take out your earphones: when you’re in your own little world bobbing along to Taylor Swift you’re a prime target.
  4. Avoid travelling through darkly lit places alone.
  5. Look around; be aware of your surroundings.
  6. If you are attacked/mugged don’t take it upon yourself to deal with the culprits; hand over whatever they want and run. Andy Norman, founder of the Defence Lab, told The Telegraph, “this is the real world now. Sadly, the streets have changed and people will do some not very nice things to you for very little. If they want something, the easiest thing to do is just give them what they want as they’ll walk away and out of your life.”

On Tuesday morning, as Ireland’s fashion and beauty elite sat in Brown Thomas watching the store’s A/W’15 show, there was no way any of them – including our own STELLAR staffers – could have known what had happened just a couple of hours earlier to one of the models, walking so confidently down the runway.

Attacked as she was heading to the luxury department store for her early morning call, 20-year-old Thalia Heffernan was set upon by a gang of what she described as young girls and boys, who punched her in the face, elbowed and shoved her and then stole her bag.

Ever the pro, the first inkling came later that day on Facebook when she wrote about her ordeal. “What’s worse is that there was nothing I could do to even attempt to defend myself, despite screaming and crying after them. I knew if I tried to fight back that it would end badly, and maybe even with me in hospital,” she commented.

And she’s right, because these types of incidents are more common than you might think. Central Statistics Office statistics indicate that there’s been an 8% increase in assaults and a 2.9% increase in sexual assaults since 2014 – and these figures have been consistently on the rise for the past 10 years.

Victims of street crime are often left feeling powerless and vulnerable. An Garda Síochána hit the nail on the head when they say, “not every culprit will get caught but every victim will suffer.”

STELLAR stories

We asked you what your experiences have been; here’s what you told us.

Sarah, 23

“One night I was walking through my local park I was approached by a group of youths. I wasn’t really threatened by them as they were so young. They started shouting abuse at me but I thought nothing of it, then someone came behind me and grabbed my bag I clung on to it and pulled it back off him, and before I knew it two of his friends pushed me to the ground and proceeded to kick me so their friend could make a quick getaway. When they left, I was so frightened, and although they didn’t really do much physical damage, I spent the next few weeks absolutely terrified to leave the house. It was horrible.”

Gillian, 28

“A few weeks ago I was waiting to get my bus home to Kildare, I was getting the last bus home so the station was completely empty. I saw two girls in tracksuits approach me and felt immediately threatened. I reckoned they’d only come into the station to cause trouble – and I was right. They came up to me and one girl grabbed my phone out of my hand. The other girl grabbed my hair and pulled me to the ground. They were calling me all the names under the sun and kicked and punched me until someone shouted, “leave her alone!” the girls made a quick getaway and the guy called me an ambulance; I stayed in the hospital over night. I didn’t even care about the fact that they stole my iPhone, the thing that bothered me was the mental turmoil in the weeks following.”

Fiona, 19

“I was walking down Grafton Street after a night out to meet my boyfriend at McDonalds. As I was making my way down the street a group of rowdy boys approached me and started making suggestive comments. When I wasn’t responding to them, one of them came right up to me and grabbed my ass – I hit his hand away which only made it worse. Thank God my boyfriend was near, he scared them off straight away, but I’ll never forget the absolute fear I felt that night.”