PRIMER ON STREET CRIMES
There is no other way we can skip a routine. We have to be exposed on streets almost daily, well, unless of course, we are bed-ridden. But going through the tedious, usually repetitive motion of taveling by foot or through any other means, it is oftentimes on the street that we will always find ourselves posted for a time. This is where our vulnerabilities are tested. This is where the gullible and the informed are segregated. This is where staying on course and falling out of bounds are defined. This is where success and failure in reaching home safely makes the difference.
How to survive and live through a multitude of challenges on the streets requires some lessons and understanding on the true nature of our favorite lane. If there is such a thing as rudiments in jungle survival, hereunder are the predatory fundamentals one encounters to surive while on lam in the city’s roadsides.
(Below is an excerpt from the PNP crime unit research on common felonies usually obtained daily as a regular, almost unchecked, feature.)
(1) Salisi, in hotel lobbies, cafés, business and tourist hangouts. Perpetrators are courteous and well dressed, with props like attaché case or jewelry to look businesslike and affluent. They pick out a victim who is so engrossed in talk or texting to leave belongings unattended. In swift motion they swipe the bag or laptop, and casually leave. A variant has one or two accomplices distracting the victim by striking up a chat, pretending to be acquainted or asking for a light.
(2) Tutok-kalawit, malls, sidewalks, outside schools, on buses and jeepneys. The conman or woman suddenly hugs the victim like they’re old friends. With a knife poked on his side, victim is ordered to quietly turn over cash and other valuables. In a variant, two cohorts falsely accuse victim of stealing. Naturally denying it, victim is asked to show proof of character. Once he fishes out an ID card from the wallet, the gang men grab the money and scram.
(3) Ativan Gang, in bars, tourist hangouts. Three to four males and females befriend the lone tourist. After gaining his confidence, they tour him around, then invite him to dine in their shanty. Ativan, a potent sleeping pill, is slipped into the drink. The drugged victim is stripped of belongings, then dumped in a secluded place. A variant would have a woman seducing the victim, then drugging him in the hotel room. Most victims are knocked out for days.
(4) Ipit Gang, in buses, trains and stations, crowded areas. Gang operates in threes or fours. Victim is shoved into distraction, while his pocket is picked or mobile snatched.
(5) Budol-budol, in malls, airports, classy hangouts. It’s a con game employing a bundle (budol) of cash, but the real money is only on top and below, padded with neatly cut newspaper in between. Victim, say, a balikbayan, is sweet-talked into helping in an emergency by swapping his dollars, mobile or jewelry with the wad of cash. A variant involves hocking a gold bar, fake and embellished with tales of treasure hunts. Some victims say they were hypnotized into parting with valuables.
(6) Kotong, in parks, airports, tourist districts. Foreign tourists or balikbayans are lured into exchanging their dollars for pesos at better than published rates. The pesos are counted in front of victim, handed over for recounting, then retrieved for wrapping. At that point, the con man, by sleight of hand, takes back a good portion of the cash, then slips the rest in an envelope for turnover to victim. It takes a while for the latter to realize he’s been duped.
(7) Laslas, in malls, markets, public transports. An adult or child, posing as a vendor or pretending to be lost, distracts the victim. A cohort swiftly slashes the victim’s pocket or bag to filch the wallet, etc.
(8) Ipit taxi. A gang spray-paints the taxi with a different name and license number. Not long after picking up a lone victim the cabbie stops on pretense of engine trouble. Two cohorts jump into the rear and sandwich the victim, demanding his valuables.
(9) Estribo Gang, on public transports. Robbers position themselves on the running board (estribo) of bus or jeepney, then announce a holdup. In a variant, the gang systematically picks the pockets of everyone boarding or alighting.
(10) Bukas kotse, on main roads during heavy traffic, or parking lots of malls, churches, schools. A pair of thieves forcibly would open the car doors to rob the motorist. Or they’d pick the locks to strip parked cars of accessories. Or they’d hijack the car.
(11) Dura Boys, in public areas, transports. A man would spit at a victim who, while wiping it off, is mugged.
(12) Akyat-bahay, in residential areas. A lone or gang of porch-climbers would invade homes left for the holidays or disasters. Youngsters are employed to break into small, unsecured windows.
(13) Pitas Gang, on public transports. A thief picks out a victim seated by the window, to snatch the wristwatch, necklace, or earring.
(14) Zest-O Gang, on buses (with apologies to the makers of the popular refreshment). The gang operates in threes, with one, in bus conductor uniform, asking the passenger, “Ilan ho (How many)?” Victim would reply how many riders they are. He is given the equivalent number of juice drinks, then charged a fortune for it. Burly cohorts menace him into paying up.
(15) Laglag barya, in public areas, transports. Coins or bills are dropped. As victim helps pick them up, his pocket or bag is picked.
(16) Baraha Gang, restaurants, department stores. The cashier, sometimes in cahoots with waiters, swiftly steals account info from the customer’s credit card.
(17) Best-friend Gang, in flea markets, bargain sales. A thief would pose as if a friend beside a shopper who is examining merchandise. The “friend” would borrow the item, then run off, leaving the shopper to be charged for it.
Paraphrasing the famous last lines of Desiderata, may I intone again, “ in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul (and take note of the above). With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.”