Jo Stuart discusses being smart on the street
(This column was published Sept. 7, 2001)
taken from AM Costa Rica-online newspaper
I am not. But having been pickpocketed three times, having had a necklace ripped from my neck and having heard the stories of other people’s misfortunes on the streets of San José, I have learned a few things.
First of all, I advise everyone to do what I did not do: report it to the police. Like most other people, I figured it would be useless because the police couldn't do anything, and it would just take a lot of futile time and paperwork. However, according to the theory of critical mass, with all of us reporting our misfortunes, the police might decide that it would be more interesting to go after the perps than to process more paperwork.
And now some cautionary advice: Women should clutch their purses firmly, and if it is a shoulder bag, if possible hang it across your chest. Men, never carry your wallets in your back pockets. Beware if someone in front of you "accidentally" drops his/her backpack or whatever they are carrying. Immediately clutch your handbag or wallet.
His cohort is behind you ready to rob you in the
confusion. Men, beware of an attractive woman who seems to want your attention. While the two of you are smiling at each other and otherwise occupied, her partner in crime is going for your wallet. And you all probably know about the spot on your jacket ploy. If somebody "accidentally" spills something on you, before they can begin to wipe it off, run.
For women, if you are in a crowded bus and a young man becomes charmingly chummy and chats with you, make sure your purse is zipped up. He is after what’s in it. And he is very clever at removing a wallet without your knowing it.
I would love to witness the modern day version of Fagin’s School for Pickpockets. They are getting better and better at it. Muggers are different. Carolyn, who is pretty streetwise, insists that muggers are, in fact, very stupid. So, she says, what you should do is ask them a question and, while they are figuring out the answer, you run.
If they have a weapon, she says you should throw your wallet as far as you can and, while they are going after it, you run. She may be right, I have bought another wallet to carry for throwing, but the only question I can think of so far is
"Excuse me, but when do you get off work?"