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I was recently a victim of one of the oldest pickpocketing tricks ever in Addis Ababa. Well, everybody seems to know about it apart from me!
So, I'll do a short description of it and if anybody else has ever been caught out in any other way, I'll be very interested to know so that I can be ready with an almighty punch next time! Also, I lost both my credit cards, stranding me without money, so if this can be prevented for somebody else, I'll be a happy man.
Basically, some bastard will walk a few paces in front of you. Suddenly he will turn around spitting a stream on your trousers (in my case) or jacket, depending in which pocket your wallet is. Apologizing profusely he will start to rub furiously on the area affected, in this way making it unable for you to feel his other hand, or the other guy's behind you, lifting the wallet out of your pocket!
There are various variations on this, but basically if somebody by accident spit on you, or spill something on you, immediately make sure you get away from him and check behind you.
I really hope this might help someone, and if you know another trick, let us know.
I got done at the bus terminal last week in Buenos Aires. Two young women, one each side, crowded me and pushed at my my thighs with their hand luggage to get on the bus south to Patagonia. I thought: Ill mannered girls.
I should have thought: Argentines are seldom bad mannered. Using public transport, men give up their seats to women and to old guys like me.
I should have thought: Going to Patagonia in mid-winter. Where are their anoraks?
What irrtitates is that I considered the velcro leg pòckets on my cargo pants more or less theft proof. I've told people that only a dwarf could get at them without looking obvious. These were short women! Maybe they are specialists in cargo trousers!
Any way I in Ushuaia, found my Honda safe at the Honda Agency, have had it serviced and changed the tires and am ready for the ride North to NY. Ready but a little scared. Though I had no trouble on the way south from Mexico last year - see BLOG at home
But I didn't ride thru Brazil.
And I am a year nearer the grave...
Oh stop Simon!!! 'I am a year nearer the grave.' You're sounding American. ;-) Sorry you're having some bad luck. I hope it passes quickly. I'm still in Colombia, hoping to find open spaces very soon....
Thanks Patrick, that's an encouraging send off note to our friend! "in Brazil....just run for your life." :-(
But does this mean we get to tell pickpocketing stories??? (Instead of me doing my work....) Myself and a friend were in Khartoum on a bus. She was wearing a money belt. Suddenly she looked down and realized her passport and money had been lifted. I realized somehow that the woman near us had taken the stuff. Instinct got the better of me and I grabbed the woman's tobe and shook it. Out fell the passport and money. And she realized she was in a shit load of trouble, and lunged at me. It took five guys to get her off me. She was one tough bint. And then it was the usual, her being escorted through the streets to the police office while people yelled at her. We were told she'd get about 3 days. We felt bad but....
Myself and a friend were in Khartoum on a bus. She was wearing a money belt.
I once had to sit on a Khartoum bus squashed in like a sardine while a suspected thief had the stuffing knocked out of him right next to me. I remember bleating 'no, no, call a policeman' or something similar to not much avail.
Sorry to hear about Simon's loss. An experience in Rome that I have previously posted is quite similar so no harm in highlighting it. It really is amazing how brazen some techniques are: A group of kids approached the man that I was walking with and talking to. They were carrying 2 large cardboard sheets (opened out boxes). They surrounded him as if they were pestering him. He pushed them away in surprise and we walked on. One minute later he realised his wallet had been stolen.
Just for a bit of perspective..
I have traveled all over the world including Brazil, (in fact will be there in 2 weeks.. Salvador.. no bike though.. work..) but never had a problem in the 3rd world (I hate that term). But I digress...I was in Boston USA (not UK).. a 12 yr old boy walks up to me in one of the main squares (Kendal) pull a pistol (dont know if it was real of fake...did not care).in full sight of 100 people.and askes for my wallet.. he got a train ticket an I think 5 USD..No one did a thing..
In Hobart (AUS), we stop at a shop (in a car), no sooner did we walk in when a guy smashed the back window and took our shopping out of it.. (he must have been very disappointed when he found out it was antibiotic skin cream for a pet ferret..).
And finally hamburg we were backpacking and on the train, four skin heads came up to us and started to hassle us... Then 3 other Germans stood up and came up behind me once I realised they were on my side (my German was very bad but ..kline Scheisse. and Fek Du..is easy to get...) .. I stood up too and the little shits legged it strait in to a pair of cops... I was smiling for days...
Remember Crime is in EVERY part of the world.. and mostly in any big city. the have nots will always try to steel from the haves... geography does not come into it...
This is a statement of the blindingly obvious: if anyone that you don't know or trust completely is within your "personal space" say within arms length, then you better keep your wallet in your hand etc etc (all as per various advice about stashing money in shoes or wherever) - won't save you from a straight forward mugging of course!
As shown in the cases in these posts, getting inside your personal space will almost always involve some form of distraction or ostensible reason to be up close - public transport is an example of the latter (pestering for trade in a market is another).
Sad I know, and call me paranoid but, as Xander says, crime does not have boundaries.
Thanks for the encouraging remarks about Bogota, MollyDog. You're full of joy on this thread. ;-)
At the risk of this turning into one of those pro/con gun threads about how safe/unsafe the world is, I should mention that in 28 years of travel, most of it in 'developing' countries (if you want to be politically correct Xander), much of it solo and 12 years of living in both Cairo and 'Nairobbery', I myself have never been pickpocketed. And now I'm traveling with two dogs the possibility is pretty remote. I also think money belts unless really hidden and flat are a lousy idea. They announce, I have something you want!
I also think money belts unless really hidden and flat are a lousy idea. They announce, I have something you want!
isnt that the whole point of a money belt. It's completely hidden so that you have the stuff you "can't" lose strapped to your chest or underneath your waistline. I dont think anyone wears them like a regular belt do they?
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