Monday, April 30, 2012

BACIWA Impostors & other Scams Part IV by Han Shrng

It’s unfortunate that snatching and pickpocketing have become rampant and common in the City of Smile. While we the public expect to be protected by the police, we could not leave everything to them because they may not be within proximity when a crime happens. The public must be by themselves vigilant. Take note that the normal way by which a person would text uses a very loose grip, otherwise pressing would be difficult. This is the basis for a fast snatch. One way to minimize, if not eliminate, this weakness is to hold your phone with both hands. Elders would often tell us better not to text all together in public, especially in crowded places. Personally when I text I’d rather lean against a wall so I only have to look over at a 180 degrees angle as opposed to an open space where you have to secure the 360 degrees around you. The speed by which snatchers move, however, must not be underestimated. They move fast. They have to. The key here then is whenever we’re in public we don’t give any person an opportunity to get the better of us. I’ve seen some teens hanging their cellphones on their necks with a strap. I find it so inviting for snatchers and gives them easier access to your belonging. Ideally, cellphones must be hidden from view. Women riding a jeep must put their shoulder bags in front and on their laps, rather than on their side where it is more accessible to pickpockets. When you get on a jeepney, always look at the faces of all the other passengers. This may come in handy later when police will ask you to identify a suspect(s). Pickpockets normally operate with a partner or partners, and more often than not, they are armed with knives. It pays to see where the hands of the persons to your sides are. I would personally feel uneasy if I don’t see at least one of his hands. A usual method of pickpockets is to cover one arm (logically the arm farther from you) with an empty or nearly empty backpack, newspaper, folder, or any similar cover. From below he will manipulate his arm, either opening your bag or slashing it with a blade. I have personally experienced this when a middle aged man tried to insert his hand on my left front pocket. I punched him twice and he threatened to knife me. That’s an entirely different story but suffice to say luckily I wasn’t hurt. I have personally encountered pickpockets/snatchers at least three times, two of them with physical interaction. It has come to my attention that when you catch these criminals red handed, they will tend to pawala, as if nothing happened, and would look out the window. Once they have a chance, they will get off the vehicle. If the jeepeney has a lot of space but someone keeps on pushing himself to you, just get ready. Some drivers know these pickpockets and some have been kind enough to ask them to get off or issue warnings to the passengers and still some just keep quite for fear that they will be stabbed. There are also times when you will witness a pickpocket incident unfolding before you. There is no one-fits-all advice what to do. It will all depend on the situation. As I have said these men will surely be armed with knives and you have to calculate whatever move you do. You wouldn’t want to end up on the hospital, or worse in the morgue. Some have successfully helped others from being picked but some have been unlucky when the pickpockets turned on them. A friend of mine, who successfully help foil an attempted pickpocket, made signals to the would be woman victim and later went down the jeep with her, just before the crime was consummated, making it appear that he was with her. While on foot, I would suggest that you walk against traffic. Why? News have told us that there are motorcycle riding men who would snatch belongings and speed away. If you go against the traffic, you can see all vehicles coming at you, including motorcycles. When you see a suspicious looking motorcycle approaching, you can immediately change your path. Let’s face it, a motorcycle will be faster so we need to see it even before it is in front of us so we can react accordingly. And put your should bag on the side away from the road, so it is farther from a snatcher on a motorcycle (just be careful against snatchers on foot, though). Normally, these motorcycle-riding snatchers operate in twos and more often than not they would be wearing helmets to appear normal and hide their identities. We can go on and on but considering space limitations I have just given you an overview on this menace to society. I will leave the rest to your imagination.

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