Let’s get back to posts for everybody for a bit.
I’m not a person who reposts every fear-inducing Facebook post about how guys are lying under cars and slashing the ankles of pretty girls so they can steal $20 from their purse. So, when I heard about these two situations in the past, I never passed them on. But then a friend of mine was the victim of one of these cons just last week, and the other happened to the parent of another friend. I consider both of these people trustworthy sources, so I thought I’d pass this info on.
Now, before I go any further, let me point out that I know precisely zero expats who have been the victims of either of these experiences, because they target people who are driving alone, and most expats are being driven around by a driver. So, I’m telling this for your general knowledge, so you can be aware in case you decide to drive yourself somewhere some day. This knowledge is just meant to be another tool for your tool box.
First, when you are parking your car, be aware of whether there are people in the cars next to the empty space. It is very common to see cars with one man in them. He is usually a driver, waiting for a text to go pick someone up. However, if you see a car with more than one man in it, be safe and park somewhere else, especially if there is no one else around in the lot. There is a chance that they are looking to hold up whoever parks in that empty space next to them.
Second, this one is a bit more complicated, and women are usually the target. What do we always do, ladies, when we get in the car to drive? We toss our bag on the passenger seat or in the back seat and get ready to drive, adjusting mirrors and lipstick and radio stations. This con takes advantage of that tendency. Someone will approach your driver side window and knock on it, pointing to the ground by the back bumper of your car, telling you that you dropped a key (or money, or an earring, or whatever). Of course, they are the ones who put the object there, but most people, being trusting of people offering help, will set aside their bewilderment (but my keys are in my hand? But that’s not my earring?) and get out of the car to get it, because the Good Samaritan is so insistent that he saw you drop it with his own eyes. Most of the time, the person will leave their car door open and have their back to this Good Samaritan, who will reach in and grab your purse and be gone before you can turn around.
If this happens to you, don’t be goaded into checking. If you have your keys, you have your keys. If you aren’t wearing earrings that day, it’s not your earring. If you are the type of person who might think you’d fall for something like this anyway, make it a habit to take a glance at the ground near your back tire as you are unlocking your car door. That way, you will know for sure that you dropped nothing back there, and won’t feel badly telling the guy to shove off as you pull away. Make it a habit to get in your car and start driving immediately. Traffic is generally so bad here that you will have plenty of time to check your make-up or put your receipts away at a red light or when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, anyway. Don’t sit in your car and wait for someone to try and pull something over on you.