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Old 11-23-2009, 12:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ever been pickpocketed?

Early Saturday morning in Madrid, we were waiting to check into our hostel. Never stayed in a hostel before, and they have been supposedly becoming a bit more upscale.

We left the bigger bags with the front desk and were to return around 12pm. We had about 3 hours to kill and it was already a long red-eye. I kept my backpack laptop bag as it had all the electronics. Passports were in another bag on my shoulder. It was tiring caring the bags, but Im quite used to them from all the years of travelling.

We are about 2 blocks from Puerto del Sol and about 1 block from our hostel. Were on a small alley that connects Calle de la Cruz to another street. Thats when a man walks up to me from the right and asks me to sit in the restaurant. I had adjusted my bag to somewhere I never do which is put my backpack on backwards. I was so tired that it wa just easier to carry this way.

The man asks where Im from and I reply New York. He says something to me about football, Real Madrid, and then he starts kicking between my legs like hes trying to take the ball from me. A check here and a check there. He backs away. I say, "No, I dont like football" and he comes back with something like karate or kung fu. I didnt answer as Im starting to become aware that something isnt right as I see another man approach Skogafoss. Its at that moment I realize my wallet isnt in my backpocket anymore. I dont keep cash there, but still, it is a pain to cancel cards etc.

I look at Skogafoss and shout at her. "This man has my wallet." She looks at me. "Skogafoss, this man has my wallet." I look at the man, "You have my wallet, give it to me!"

I started to drop my bags and demanded my wallet again. Im watching these guys carefully keeping myself between them and Skogafoss. I ask for my wallet again.

Suddenly and quite unexpectedly the guy produces my wallet and says something to the effect of "solo bromo" only joking. Yeah, only joking my ass. I checked the wallet, no cards missing, the hidden cash still there. Hey I dont keep important cash there, just emergency cash. As Im looking through it hes walking away saying "bromo"

So for the past couple of days, (I know it has only been two real days, but weve slept, woken up, gone out like 4 times, so it feels like 4 days have passed) we have been joking as to why he gave me my wallet back.

Did he think I was going to go South Bronx on his ass? Why did he not just run away? He had a lanky friend with him, was it just about an easy mark and move on? I havent the foggiest idea, but I am grateful that I did not have to spend a couple hours cancelling cards etc.
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Old 11-23-2009, 12:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I am ultra-anti-pickpocket as they come. Whenever I see signs that say something to the effect of "mind your luggage" I instantly make a mental feel either with my butt or wherever my body is for my belongings. My money is either all in my hand ready to pay the cashier or very carefully stowed away.

I have once twisted this little kids arm when I found it in my jacket. He was too frail, though, so I just gave him the sandwich that he was reaching for. This was in Milan a long while ago. I have also been called a thief for telling a woman walking in front of me that her purse was hanging open and I just witnessed a pickpocket earlier on.

Living in a big city teaches you to abandon all vigilante tendencies and just mind your own business.
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Old 11-23-2009, 02:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow that sucks. I would've made a huge scene.

Never happened to me, but while in New York on a choir trip in 11th grade, someone swiped my friend's wallet out of her purse. She felt it happen. Friend turns around to this woman and screams, 'give me my wallet NOW!'
'I ain't got yo wallet, bitch.'
But she didn't realize we were walking as a group of about 40 to a musical so she was surrounded. She drops the wallet and takes off - she had no opportunity to open the wallet and take anything.

I have to admit, if this happened to me, I would've had the bitch against the wall by her throat. I'm not violent and I've been in a cat fight only once, and that was in 7th grade lol, but try to steal anything from me and my head will spin like Linda Blair. Plus, the slut was short. I'm 5'10".
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Old 11-23-2009, 03:03 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Amsterdam, NL
Had a passport stolen once, in a train station, about 1990.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: backwater, Third World, land of cotton
Cyn, I get that same reaction from people sometimes. I guess they think I'm going to get all George Wallace on them, or something.

I've never had my wallet taken out of my pocket before, but I've had it taken out of my car while I was a few feet away. I was moving into an apartment in Florence, Alabama in 1980 and left my wallet on the console. As I was walking towards the car during one of my trips to get my stuff, I met a very nervous old guy coming towards me who mumbled and then sort of jogged off into some nearby woods. It wasn't long before I realized my wallet was gone, and it was probably him. I didn't see him do it (pretty sure though), and I didn't get my wallet back. I did have to take tons of time to stop payment on a check that was in there and to get a new driver's license, etc.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Good job on getting your wallet back. I've never lost my wallet or had it stolen, that would be one huge pain in the ass.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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This is why you should keep your wallet in your front pocket.
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Old 11-23-2009, 12:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Atlanta
And ladies, please please please don't keep your money in your bra. It's so nasty. I worked a part time job in a clothing store this past summer. Sweaty women would come in with only their keys, they'd shop and then pay with wet, sweaty cash that they kept in their bra. Just... don't.
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Old 11-23-2009, 12:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Prague, Czech Republic.
Zelivskeho Metro station, departing for Namesti Miru Metro station by way of Stanice Muztek.

1605: Board Metro. Stand near door for better view of Czech female hotness on platforms.

1607: Feel something in left front trouser pocket. Quick mental inventory establishes that I am 100% Not Aroused, and my own hands are in my jacket pockets. Look down, see unknown hand in trousers. Look up; discover that hand is attached to startled-looking 17-year-old(ish) White* kid.

1607.30: Reach into pocket, yank kid's hand out, twist kids arm behind his back until it creaks and shove kid against wall. Explain, in broken Czech, my situation. White passengers laugh, Gypsy pickpockets further down the car laugh a LOT.

1609: Arrive at Stanice Muztek. Propel kid, still in arm-twisting compliance hold, down the platform and up the stairs to the Metske Policie (Prague Metropolitan Police) station at the top of the escalator. Policeman at the desk speaks English; release my captive into their custody and make report.

1615-2035: Answer 10,976 questions from Metro Police, Transport Police, and Foreign Police. Passport scrutinized, briefcase checked, and shoes inspected. Finally released four hours later, making it to my local pub just in time for the Madrid/Milan match to end. Bugger.

2100: Informed by fellow barflies that the kid was probably released immediately. Fellow patrons suggest breaking pickpockets arms next time, or just telling the Gypsies they can have whatever they can find in his pockets while he's being sat upon.

From then on, I kept my wallet in my briefcase and stood against the wall when on the Metro.

*Most pickpockets in Prague, at least the competent ones, are Roma. A non-Gypsy pickpocket is very odd, but probably a good move for a more competent thief; nobody in Prague expects to get their pocket picked by a white kid, not least because the Gypsy pickpocket gangs will defend their turf with some ferocity.
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Old 11-23-2009, 04:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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While in Rome my wife was accosted by about a half dozen Gypsy children while we were site seeing by the Colosseum. Apparently this is an often used method to steal wallets from women's purses. They just surrounded her and put their hands all over her while one of them goes for the purse. I was close by and yelled at them loudly to get away from her and they just ran away probably looking for the next victim. We laughed about it later but it would not have been so funny if she had lost her passport etc..
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I had my jacket pockets picked a couple of times in high school, riding the city bus-- that's LA for you. Mostly, I keep my wallet in my front pocket at all times, and I seldom carry much cash on me. Plus, the one advantageous thing about being a larger guy is that it's pretty hard to get anything out of my pocket without me noticing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by woos View Post
And ladies, please please please don't keep your money in your bra. It's so nasty. I worked a part time job in a clothing store this past summer. Sweaty women would come in with only their keys, they'd shop and then pay with wet, sweaty cash that they kept in their bra. Just... don't.
On the other hand, I-- when I used to work at a beachfront cafe after college-- used to look forward each and every day to those wonderful girls who would slip their cash enticingly from inside the bra, or have to hunt for it painstakingly under the sports bra, or would whip it out of the bikini top-- often along with an unintended display of nipple.... And yes, sometimes the money was sweaty.... Gloriously, gloriously sweaty....

In my own defense, I never went full-on perv and smelled the cash...

...in front of the customer....




...But perhaps I've said too much....
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
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That is awesome you got your wallet back and no violence. I've never been pick pocketed but I have been jacked twice for money by thieves.

The first time I was about 14 and a couple of older teenagers grabbed me and took I my walkman. Remember those sony sport tape players with the yellow headphones circa 1990? grrr Unhurt but I could have avoid it I think by crossing the road. I think a crime of opportunity.

Second time I was staying at hostel in Manchester England and was robbed at knife point by a couple of hooligans a block or two after leaving for the night. They only got a small amount of cash, the best part was that I was only in England to see Oasis and was going to meet up with a guy I met online that I traded bootlegs with. He was taking me to his local and when i told my story the bar owner and the other patrons thought it was wrong and wanted to show me a good time and they bought my drinks (hiccup!) and dinner and all that jazz. Way more spent then the cash I had lost earlier. nice people! so much fun!

I was unharmed but shaken by the knife getting placed against me. I knew it was coming too as I saw them following me but again nothing I could do really. They changed sides of the streets when I did, i saw no cabs. no people. A planned crime. Just glad to be unharmed.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
While in Rome my wife was accosted by about a half dozen Gypsy children while we were site seeing by the Colosseum. Apparently this is an often used method to steal wallets from women's purses. They just surrounded her and put their hands all over her while one of them goes for the purse. I was close by and yelled at them loudly to get away from her and they just ran away probably looking for the next victim. We laughed about it later but it would not have been so funny if she had lost her passport etc..
A popular method in Prague as well. There's a notorious gang of early-teenage Zizkovi (Roma from the Zizkov neighborhood in Prague) pickpockets that works Tram #24 in exactly such a way, usually going for the obvious tourists; ie lost-looking young people with backpacks. Sometimes the older kids resort to shoving people around or "accidentally" falling into someone and knocking them down as the tram accelerates or stops. The Roma thieves aren't usually people to be afraid of, just an expensive nuisance. A friend once had his car battery stolen, then found it for sale at the flea-market where we went looking for a replacement! The seller couldn't explain it, since M. had carved his name into the underside of the plastic case, but he still had to pay a 30Kc "finder's fee" to the fellow selling it. And practically everyone in Prague knows or knows of somebody who's had their brand-new Skoda surgically taken apart in a few hours by a gang of professional Gypsy parts thieves.
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