It Won’t Happen to You….or Will It?

That’s exactly how quick it was, as quick as a flash, before I know what had happened, it had happened….only to discover a few hours later, on the last day of a wonderful holiday on the idyllic Seychelles islands, every photo taken, every attempt at recording a memory lust to a lowly beach criminal.
You laugh? It wouldn’t happen to you, you are careful, aware and street wise, so was I. Walking along a popular short cut from our accommodation to the dive school, we were approached by a local trying to entice us to take a trip on a dugout to a nearby island. While pointing to the dugout he friendly put his arm around my shoulder. Now, hindsight is an exact science, after the fact I recall my small backpack being moved a little but out this down to his arm.
We had no interest whatsoever with his proposal and the whole incident must have taken a little under two minutes at the most, that’s all he needed to unclip the opening of the small daypack, slip his hand inside and help himself to what could only have obviously been a camera. Believe me when I tell you, my wife nearby didn’t notice a thing, I didn’t suspect and we are both “travel wise”, careful to secure all straps and/or not leave luggage or any item unattended, careful not to go into places or areas that look too quiet, careful to stick to proper paths and keep an eye out for suspicious individuals. After all, when every other thought prevails we’re South Africans and respecting one’s security is part of our daily lives.
A few years back, sitting on a small wall over looking a beach in Nice along the French Riviera, I had placed a similar day-pack along the wall until a gypsy, looking out for an opportunistic moment, grabbed the bag and made a run for it…being a little more agile in those days, the gypsy had picked on the wrong South Africa….sensing the movement I immediately gave chases, he bobbed and weaved through the traffic, glancing behind him to see if he was notice, I am sure to this day I saw the colour of his face change when he saw me, a solid six foot of anger after him…he glanced again after reaching the other side of the road to see that I wasn’t giving up, matching him for speed and motivated by anger and frustration…he dropped the bag and sped into the crowd, after a quick up, at least as good as any top eighth man playing on the Super 14 might have done, I looked up again and he was gone. With my chest held high, albeit with a wheeze or two I stumbled back to my wife, bag in hand and very proud.
Going back to the Seychelles incident, the matter was reported to the local constabulary, the thief identified by us after staking out the area where we were robbed and then questioning waiters in a nearby restaurant who new him. He was approached and questioned and denied ever seeing us, of course the camera, what camera? Even after suggesting we would drop the charges and pay a reward of two hundred dollars for the camera and/or the memory card, our memories captured on disc for our whole holiday were gone.
Whether you are being fleeced by a ticket tout at a West End theatre in London, buying a top seat for a top dollar and finding out you are sitting on the roof, or whether you are having an item stolen or being ripped of with so-called water whereas it’s merely a home made re-fill from the local water system, be aware and be wary, here are a few security tips that might apply during your travels:
• Keep a copy of all important documents in a different case or bag than the original; if one is lost or stolen you at least have some record.
• For the same reason, split your travellers cheques, cash and perhaps credit cards into at lease two different bags or person, in this way you’ll never be absolutely helpless.
• It’s the small valuable items the thieves love the most, they’re easy to convert into cash…cell phones; camera’s; binoculars; wallets…be aware and ensure these are in a secure location, pockets or bags only with tie downs. Do not keep valuable items in lose pockets of clothing, pickpockets are common in popular tourist destinations, in particular airports; train; bus stations and bust markets.
• Ensure your suitcase or bag has a lock, ideally a combination lock, this not only secures it or makes it less attractive to criminals in transit, it also then acts as a deterrent to curious cleaning staff when left at your accommodation.
• Always keep all you possessions in eyesight, do not think a cute little old lady next to you on the bus can’t be a thief, that’s just how they lull you into a state of false security.
Send along your travel tips to and you could win a wonderful prize if your tips are published by us.
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