Friday is usually the idle time in the office. Everyone is in the “Weekend Mode” that we all feel too lazy to work, or feel sleepier than usual (we are usually on the graveyard shift). The most recent Friday, we decided to talk about something (forgot what specifically) and the conversation started going towards thieves. My co-workers shared personal experiences, encounters, or stories with thieves of all kinds.
I was able to share some of my stories, though I never really had anything that happened to me. One story I shared happened to my twin brother who got held up once. He was approached by a group of guys, around 4 of them, and he was forced to go to a 7-11. It was a long walk, and he was not familiar with the place that they went to, so he was not able to ask for help. Inside the 7-11 store was another accomplice of the “holdapers”, as we locally call them, and he asked for his cellphone. Then he left my brother in the store. We were thankful that he was not physically hurt or anything, but the anger was there. My dad and his friends decided to go back to the place and get revenge, although we never saw the group of guys again.
Living in a place where there are a lot of occurrences of crime (and re-occurrence), they asked me if there were something that they can do to at least avoid these things from happening. I am not an expert on this but I did share whatever I usually do to stay away from these events.
- Never use gadgets in a public transportation. Especially if the gadget is expensive. I don’t have expensive gadgets, but I still do not use my cellphone inside a bus, a jeep, nor a train. It just makes me a good target of thieves, especially pickpockets.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. If you are walking on a street (even if it’s really familiar to you), always make sure that you know what the other people are doing. This may seem difficult, but most of the time, being too comfortable with a place makes us vulnerable for attacks. One instance happened to another co-worker, who was mugged in a street a few blocks from her home. If you feel like someone is following you, go to an establishment with a security guard and ask for help (a mall, a convenience store, etc). My teammates also notice that whenever we go somewhere outside the office, my eyes are kinda shifty. I got so used to checking everyone out that I even do it inside a mall or the office.
- Do not place your cards in one wallet/pocket. Most of the time, people tend to put everything in one wallet, that if it gets lost, then their ATM cards, credit cards and the like, would also get lost. I put my cards (if I need to bring one) in separate bag pockets to make sure I would still have a back up in case something happens.
- If possible, do not bring too much money. I often get laughed at when I tell my co-workers that I just brought enough money for the day. I do have an extra amount for emergencies, but I always just bring enough for me to survive the day. I have a decoy wallet too.
- Always think that the person next to you is a thief. Now this one sounds nasty, but I do it just to be safe. When I ride the bus, I don’t usually sleep throughout the travel, since I always think that someone is going to take advantage of the situation. I don’t have biases when it comes to safety. Even if the person beside you is handsome/pretty or wears a suit, it still pays to be safe. When going off the public vehicle, I always put my backpack in front of me, to avoid anyone going through my bag, especially if there is a lot of people.
- Know the tricks of the trade. There are a lot of children begging in the street, and I usually try my best to avoid them or ignore them. Nowadays, it’s a safe bet that these kids are working for a crime group. Even a family asking for help may not be a real family in need.
- Don’t stop for anything unless you are already in a safe place. Some group have this modus to call your attention and take advantage of the time that you are confused to rip your belongings off you. When someone calls your attention (in our place, it’s as simple as “psst”), do not acknowledge it unless you are in a safer place. If you really know this person, chances are he/she will follow you just to tell you that he/she was trying to call you earlier. If it is really important, then he/she would really follow you to the safe location.