Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Heartless thieves!!

Yesterday, I was having lunch with three friends at "Como en Casa" and they stole my handbag. Ironically, this ex-convent, upscale café is called "Just like at Home". Anyway, I only realized I had been robbed when I reached for my bag to pay the bill, and saw that it was gone. I had everything in it... my bb phone, my wallet with drivers license and credit cards, make-up, camera, I guess it's pointless to name everything... everyone knows that a girl practically carries her life in her handbag! which is why I'm so sad. I was telling my friend, it's a symbolic pain, I feel stripped and empty and vulnerable. Although Buenos Aires remains a safe city, these things happen here too. And, they can happen to anyone, anywhere. In this case, it happened in a beautiful, indoor patio in Recoleta, where to be completely honest something like this is truly unlikely to occur. But it did, and I want to talk about it and warn others. Here are some things I did wrong.

1. I was sitting far from the door, but with my back to it (in front of me, two friends facing the door) and my handbag was carelessly hanging from my chair, instead of being on the floor - between my legs where it should have been.
2. I was distracted cause this is a closed place that I've been to like 100 times. It has an indoor patio with gates, there are always many people there, and it was noon...
3. I used my phone a couple of times and put it back in my bag - the heartless thieves probably saw that.

What to do if you get robbed? go to the nearest comisaría (police station) and file the report. Not much more can be done.

More useful information:

Capital Federal Police Phone - 911 [same number for the province, suburbs]

Prefectura (Coast Guard)
Phone - 4318-7558, 4318-7400
Address - 2011 Av Macacha Guemes 150

Tourist Police
Phone - 4346-5748
Address - Corrientes 436, Capital

Here's what the establishment did for us:

NOthing! In fact, the waiter told us that this happened before many times. He even mentioned that a person had once used a knife? that's scary. What's even scarier is that "Como en Casa" have done nothing about it. No security cameras, no security people, no warning to their clients (like other places who ask that you take care of your bag) or, sometimes put a thinggy on the chair, so that you can strap your bag to it. Nothing.

What are some general precautions you should take to avoid being robbed?

1. If you are visiting, make sure you leave all valuable things in a safety box at your hotel or rented apartment / villa. Make a copy of your passport and carry that, if needed.
2. Don't fall for the mustard thing, we all know about it. It's an old trick. If someone tells you you have mustard on your jacket, sweater, etc. do like Johnnie Walker, and keep walking!!
3. Don't wear flashy stuff that calls attention upon you.
4. Be careful with your camera.
5. When sitting in a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, always face the door, and be extra careful about your handbag /backpack or whatever you have to be careful about.
6. If sitting in one of those side-walk cafés be super, super careful as you are (obviously) more exposed.
7. As in any big city, just be aware.

I'm sure most people know the above, but just in case.

What will I do about this unfortunate episode? for one thing, be more careful. I've never been robbed before as I'm usually - and naturally- paranoid, but experience has a way of teaching us, doesn't it? I was a mess yesterday, but today I've been thinking that had I been a little more cautious, this could have all been avoided. And, although losing so many things that matter is a real pain, we always have the possibility to learn from our mistakes, and start over. Which is why I'm going to do errands now. I've already canceled all credit cards, phone, etc. Guess I'll continue by getting my ID back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mich, que feo lo que te pasó, me contó Caro!! llamame cuando puedas que te quiero ver!