Please hang on your valuables (and random photos)

Seaside restaurant

Today while lunching with a friend, I encountered a young woman from Belgium. We asked how she liked Vietnam, and her reply was a sad but not a rare one. She liked it just fine until her purse was stolen along with all of her money and passport. She was booked on a bus to Hoi An tomorrow and was not sure what her future was…. In limbo of a sort. Her story was that she had checked out of her hotel and left the luggage in the lobby. She then spent some time sitting on a bench reading her lonely planet. She had put her purse beside her and was checking out the new sights to enjoy. Unknown to her, there were people lying back waiting for the perfect opportunity for a snatch and grab. That is exactly what happened. A motorcycle slowly cruised by in front of her when suddenly a teenager ran from behind, grabbed her purse, and then jumped on the motorcycle…. Zip and they were gone with the poor woman not having the chance to even get a description or license number. It was a practiced team effort and in a few seconds the young lady’s holiday was destroyed. I have no idea why the police do not have a bigger presence in the main tourist areas. Coincidently, in the past weeks I have had 2 different customers from Hoi An that have had the exact same thing happen. They also had it happen in broad daylight by very young people.

Please everybody!! Vietnam is a wonderful place to visit and the experiences you have here can be the best memories of your life, but always try to keep in mind that there are a lot of poor teenagers out there who are looking for any opportunity to make a buck. Keep your important documents and money in contact with your body at all times unless left with your hotel receptionist. Losing them can be devastating!! Crimes of opportunity exist in every country, but perhaps more so in poorer ones. Please do not become a victim.

While we are on the crime subject, let us go back to something that I talked about in the past about becoming a victim in Vietnam. Crimes of opportunity are everywhere and a little common sense will prevent you from becoming a victim. OH my god!! Woody Woodpecker is on my TV. I have not seen one in perhaps 40 years…… anyway…..

Besides the afore mentioned crime, there are also other forms of snatch and grabs to watch out for. Almost all of them involve a motorcycle, so always take a good look at any motorcycles with two riders that just seem to be hanging out. The cities here are riddles with small alleys and lanes. If you are wearing the painfully visible fanny pack ( sorry Aussies) You are just crying to become a victim. The snatch and grab on this item is extremely easy. A pair of hoodlums will spy you walking down a road somewhere and know that there will be many lanes you have to pass. The duo will select a location and sit in wait for the unsuspecting victim to pass. As the person passes the alley, very skilled people will drive by close on a motorcycle. You will think it was just a close call as traffic is that way here, but unknown to you until you need money, your fanny pack is gone!! The thieved have used a razor to deftly cut the strap and remove your pack without you being any the wiser. Huh!! Impossible you think??? One of the commenter’s on this forum had exactly that happen in front of my very own eyes. Only a short time after accidently dropping money from his fanny pack and having the money returned by an honest and friendly street person, a bike zipped out of an alley for the grab. He was lucky though, as the razor did not quite cut all the way through the strap and the tug was enough for him to realize something was not right. Seconds later, the pack just fell to the ground with the strap severed. Even I have become a victim in the past..  have had my wallet stolen by lady boys…. (you will have to look that one up for yourself) and I have had a bicycle stolen from the front of my hotel. Both crimes of opportunity. As foreigners, we tend to let our guard down. Here you cannot…. My friend today shook his head seeing that I had my wallet in my back pocket. Perhaps he is right… I became complacent and got robbed by the lady boys…..Perhaps the wallet is a tempting target for others, however, I have developed a bit of a 6th sense about these things.

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

3 thoughts on “Please hang on your valuables (and random photos)

  1. Travelers present an opportunity, since (obviously) you are carrying useful things like money, cameras etc with you. And you are helpfully clumped up in mobs at tourist sites, etc. The only place I’ve been robbed was an airport washroom – in Canada, while traveling!

  2. Hi Mate,I find your info absolutely fascinating,very valuable indeed,would love to stay at your Hotel,looks lovely!Cheers,Mark

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