This was not a subtle effort where they hoped to succeed without being noticed. They simply didn’t care about that. It was, in essence, a “smash and grab” job. We had just wrapped up a delicious (and ridiculously huge) meal at the Mercado del Puerto in the old city of Uruguay and were walking bad to the hotel for a bit of siesta time. Maybe my guard was down a bit as the streets were quiet and we’d split a bottle of medio y medio at lunch, though I’m honestly not sure I should’ve seen the guy coming.
He came from behind us, stuck his hand in my right front pocket, grabbed and ran. It wasn’t far to the corner where a friend joined him in running away. They turned the corner and then into a semi-abandoned building. And I, mostly being an idiot, was chasing them through this. I should’ve stopped running. Mostly because there’s no way I was actually going to catch them and because I probably deserved to be taken down much harder once I went in to the building. That was a quite fortunate non-event for me. I’m also pretty sure that once they got inside and upstairs they played me for a fool (not too far off, really), saying that the guy who robbed me performed some sort of ridiculous parkour moves and jumped on to the roof of the building and escaped. In reality I’m pretty sure it was the guy or guys making that claim but I couldn’t be certain and at that point getting into a fight with them on their turf and in their language seemed a really, really, really bad idea. I retreated to the street to find my wife and assess the damage.
She was right outside on the street, wondering where I was. I got lucky again that I quickly spotted her and we regrouped. I stuck my hand back in my pocket and realized that I was missing the Uruguayan currency – 1300 pesos which is about $60 – and my wallet. I still had my US dollars (roughly the same amount) and my chap stick. As I started to ponder which credit cards were lost I took some solace in the fact that I’d just paid for lunch with my “go to” card for travel and it was in my shirt pocket with the receipt, not back in my wallet. And I keep two cards in a separate wallet in my suitcase. This was going to be annoying certainly but not a massive loss. As I explained my losses to my wife she held up my wallet and handed it back to me. Apparently the guy dropped it during the grab.
Filing the police report was, at this point, mostly a formality so their stats show that it happened. I don’t expect anything to come of it or to hear from them again. Oh, and the officer spoke almost no English, which isn’t too surprising. Fortunately a woman in the station was able to translate for me and he wrote the statement. I signed it. I don’t really know what it said. I don’t really care.
Total loss was ultimately the 1300 pesos. I managed to not get injured and they managed to not take the things I had on my which were actually valuable. My other pocket had my mobile phone (OK, yeah, a Blackberry isn’t very valuable but probably worth more than $50) and a Canon Elph 110 HS in it. In my right hand was my dSLR camera. Over my shoulder was my camera bag (though without the camera in it probably not worth as much). But they managed to grab from that one pocket and only take a few dollars in cash.
Shitty way to spend an hour of the afternoon, to be certain. But it could have been much, much worse.
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