One of the fears I had in my early days of urban exploring, was that of encountering other people while inside an abandoned building. I had this dark though that constantly lingered in the back of my head about being attacked while exploring. I knew I had taken every precaution possible to stay safe, but this fear of running into potentially dangerous people while exploring was something I couldn’t get out of my mind.
It’s now been 3 years since I started urban exploring and that same fear is still with me to this very day. I’ve come to accept that it is something that’s good for me, and every other urban explorer, to have. Yes, that’s right. Being conscious of that fact that the hobby you partake in could lead you into potentially dangerous situations with shady people is something that you should be conscious about. It helps you stay mentally prepared if you do one day run into someone who might want to harm you while you’re exploring.
This fear that we urban explorers have of running into unknown people while exploring is completely natural. Our hobby takes us inside derelict buildings we don’t know and we’re potentially putting ourselves in dangerous situations.
This fear also stems from reading stories of other urban explorers describing their unexpected encounters with people while exploring. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably watched those YouTube videos with click-bait titles such as “Urban Exploring Gone Horribly Wrong! (We Were Attacked!!!!)”. Yea, these kinds of videos, though we don’t publicly admit it, put some fear inside our minds.
In the urbex forums I frequent, most newbie urban explorers constantly ask what they should do if they run into people while out exploring. That same question gets asked time after time. This is why I’ve decided to write this post to help the unexperienced urban explorer get over their fear. Hopefully, I can put someone’s mind at ease so they’re not constantly asking themselves what they should do if they encounter people while exploring.
Below I’ve written down the 7 types of people you’re most likely to run into inside an abandoned building. Keep in mind that I’m writing from my own personal experience. I’ve had run in’s with the following 7 types of people in my 3 years of urbexing. But this doesn’t mean that they are the only type of people you’ll encounter while exploring. They are, however, the MOST likely people to hang out in abandoned buildings that we so love to explore.
7 Kinds Of People You’re Likely To Run Into Inside Abandoned Buildings
I think I’ve run into just about every type of person you’re most likely to come across when exploring an abandoned building. These are the 7 types of people you can expect to run into while exploring.
1) Drug Addicts: You can think about these people as part-time squatters, except they’re not usually as set up in abandonments (with sleeping bags, cooking apparatuses, extra clothing, etc…) as actual squatters. Every time I’ve run into druggies they’ve been out of their mind, not in a crazy way, they’re just calm and in their own world minding their own business. Of course, you should always be wary of these people as they could be dangerous.
2) Other Urban Explorers: Fellow explorers are the best kind of people you can run into. You can easily tell they’re explorers by how they’re dressed or by what equipment they have on hand. The times I’ve run into other explorers have been really cool encounters. We exchange information on the building, places to go to, places to avoid, etc… Overall, fellow explorers tend to be really cool and pose little to no danger to you. There have been times when my friends and I ran into fellow explorers and we decide to stick together while exploring.
3) Scrapers / Metal Thieves: These are the kind of people you going to want to stay away from. These guys are there to cause damage and commit crimes. You don’t want to be caught standing anywhere near these dicks. Don’t look at them for too long or take pictures of them, that’ll piss them off. If you do meet face to face, just give a quick smile and keep on moving. These guys are there to steal any kind of metal/copper/pipes etc.. they can salvage from the abandoned building to sell for money.
4) Loiters: These tend to be local people, mostly unruly teenagers who go out of sight to smoke or hang out with their buddies. Some of them will scurry away as they hear you approaching. Others will look at you like deer in headlights. Keep to yourself and Ignore these people and you’ll get along just nicely.
5) Squatters: Mostly synonymous with drug addicts, squatters are usually en guard around visitors, what with living in fear of police or security guards and such. They tend to not make conversation or move after you but instead follow you with their eyes. Mostly harmless, so long as you don’t look like you’re going to harm them, you should be safe around them.
6) Graffiti Artists: Usually these guys are super chill and are only in the area to spray paint walls. A casual conversation with these guys should go something like this: “You painting, bruh?” “Nah, I’m just exploring”. “Ohh cool”. “Hey, can you take a few photos of our pieces?”. This happened once to me. Graffiti artists are only there to tag the place up with their art. They’re generally cool people so you shouldn’t be afraid of being around them.
7) Homeless People: Abandoned buildings are the perfect place for a homeless person. You’re more likely to run into a homeless person than any of the other 6 types I listed above. Some homeless people can become territorial of their belongings in the area where people don’t come by, so be wary of that. If you spot a homeless person, leave them and their things alone and they won’t bother you.
Those are the 7 most likely people you’ll encounter inside abandoned buildings. Most people are mostly good most of the time. Be prepared for trouble of course, but generally, nobody wants to be bothered or bother you. Use common sense when deciding if you should leave or stay after you’ve come across any of the above-listed people.
There will be times when you’re deep inside a location and you run into someone you didn’t know was there. It’s up to you to decide if you should keep exploring or GTFO of the building. How you decided if you should stay or leave is by assessing your situation.
Assess your situation
I can’t tell you exactly what it is you should do first when you encounter a person while exploring because I don’t know what kind of person or situation you’re going to be dealing with. You need to make that decision yourself. How you do that is by first taking a good look at the person. When you first encounter the person, do they:
- Look threatening
- High / Drunk
- Mentally unstable
- Are they dressed in torn dirty clothing?
- Possibly homeless
You can tell a lot about a person simply by the way they look. Take a very good look at them and try and figure out why they might be there. Pay attention to your gut, your mind takes in information without you having to think about it.
Once you get an idea of who the person you’ve run into might be, decide if you’re cool with them being in the same building as you or not. If they’re ignoring you and keeping their distance, then perhaps they’re friendly and don’t want any trouble. If it’s the complete opposite and they’re following you around or seem to be staring at you and making you feel uncomfortable, you might want to get the hell out of there.
Should You Carry A Weapon When Exploring?
You may think that carrying a weapon such as a knife or even a gun, if you’re licensed to carry one, is a good idea, but it truly isn’t. Remember that most of the time when you’re exploring a building you’re not really allowed to be inside. If you were to be caught by security, or worse by a police officer, being caught carrying a deadly weapon could get you in serious trouble.
Of course, you should take something to protect yourself with in case of trouble. What I always recommend urban explorers carry with them is a can of pepper spray. Yes, mace can be seen as a weapon, but it’s generally seen as a self-defense weapon.
Use Common Sense And You’ll Be Fine
Urban exploration is a risky hobby. There’s no denying that. Sometimes the buildings we explore aren’t the only ones that can be dangerous. At times it’s the people that are attracted to them that could be what causes us harm. Knowing who those people are and why they might be in that abandoned building, can help you decide if you should stay and continue exploring or leave and come back another day.