Purse Snatchers at Red Cabbage

Incidents, either bad or that could be improved in the city.

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Purse Snatchers at Red Cabbage

Post by oneistwo » Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:41 pm

We left the Red Cabbage last night and did what we always do, start walking to the Malecon, since it´s only about 10 short blocks. We were only a few feet from the door when one kid, about 15, bumped me on the narrow sidewalk, which was puzzling since he had the whole rest of the street to walk on, but next thing I know my girlfried, about 20 feet in front of me started shouting. Then she took off after him but nobody can outrun a 15 yr old. We eventually found the purse, but the Mac card and 4,000 pesos were gone. We took a cab home and reported the stolen card right away. Why so much cash? ATM fees are going up so she got out as much as reasonable to last the whole week.

We´ve been told it´s a waste of time to report this to the police. We still might try (it would be so easy to trap the kid, and his three buddies who stood there laughing at us then ran off).

We do in the meantime want to warn people to
a) assume there are purse snatchers and pickpockets out there so keep wallets in front pockets and across the shoulder purses only (but even that might not work if they want to get rough)
b) assume no bystanders will help
c) avoid le Remance zone and by implication, the Red Cabbage, and perhaps other cash-only restaurants because the thieves know you´ll be carrying cash.
d) it happened in view of the front door of the Red Cabbage, so it´s hard to believe the help there doesn´t know this is going on. We told them we were going to walk, no cab, and got no warning. Even if we were taking a cab, we still could have been robbed between the door and the cab.

Sorry to warn people away from the Red Cabbage, and sorry to reverse what I´ve been saying for years about Puerto Vallarta. Pretend it´s New York, and never drop your guard.

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Post by katnsocal » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:07 am

d) it happened in view of the front door of the Red Cabbage, so it´s hard to believe the help there doesn´t know this is going on. We told them we were going to walk, no cab, and got no warning. Even if we were taking a cab, we still could have been robbed between the door and the cab.

Sorry to warn people away from the Red Cabbage, and sorry to reverse what I´ve been saying for years about Puerto Vallarta. Pretend it´s New York, and never drop your guard.
Sorry to hear that this happened to your girlfriend. BUT I don't think it is fair to get on the internet and blame the help at the Red Cabbage for the incident. Those people depend on tourist business for their living, so they would not let it continue if it was an on going thing, and I doubt that these kids are hanging around the same place every night. If they are up to no good and make a habit out of it they will move around town and not just stay in one area. Just because a restaurant takes credit cards does not mean that tourists don't have any money with them, so it can happen outside any restaurant.

PV is like any other city in the world and crime happens but I would not compare the PV crime rate to NY.

Carrying large amounts of money with you in a purse is not a smart thing to do. Snatch and grab robberies are easy to pull off so it makes them a crime of opportunity. I have two large malls within 4 blocks of my house and these types of incidents happen in the parking lots all the time.

I never carry more money with me than I need for that specific day when I am in PV, the rest is in a safe in my room. If I find something I just have to have, I go back for it the next day if I don't have enough money with me to pay for it at the time.

I too learned the hard way when I went skiing for a week, I took all cash with me and lost my wallet. It sure does spoil one's vacation.

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Time of Year

Post by Jennybean » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:53 am

I'm going to add that the time of year also probably has more to do with it than the restaurant.

Easter is notoriously known as a higher theft/pickpocket/purse snatching time of year - most of the thieves are transient, coming into PV in the weeks leading up to the holiday from other places and taking advantage of the time of year and the higher density of travelers (both Mexican national and NOTB tourists).

Purse snatching is always, always a crime of opportunity moreso than a true set-up. Look at the bright side, she wasn't mugged, beaten, or worse. You lost material possession only...live and learn.

I did.

Do I let it colour my perception of PV? Not in the least. It's still a far safer place to walk than my own city and neighbourhood. I'm just a lot more cognizant now than I was before - part of the crime of opportunity is a thief taking advantage of you letting your guard down. Lesson learned, and I'll bet you will never do that again, right?

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Don't blame the neighborhood for thieves

Post by pvmike » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:32 pm

I am not surpised that crime has taken a jump over the past few years in Puerto Vallarta. I have been traveling there for 30 years, and in recent years, the teens have become more agressive. I blame TV, the internet for this change. They see things and copy them.

To blame the restrauant, business or individual is not fair. I know that many businesses try everything to make their environment safe and secure.

Did you go back to the Red Cabbage and ask for their assistance? I know they staff there would have been very pro-active in assisting. They do not want to get a reputation as a questionaable neighborhood.

I feel very safe in Vallarta, but have become more aware of my surroudings. The days of walking without caution are gone - a shame but a reality.

I am sorry for your incident and hope this does not disuade you from visitng PV again.

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Post by oneistwo » Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:07 pm

Sorry if it sounded like I was blaming the Red Cabbage staff. The only person to blame is the thief. And since the incident, Ive seen reviews of the Red Cabbage advising people to take the walk. If its never happened there before, then its happened now and people should made beware.

Of course the combination of a restaurant and the neighborhood had something to do with it. This guy new just what he was doing and where a victim was likely to appear

Whether it was $400 or $40, its still a violation. Of course carrying more is riskier that carrying less.

Not comparing the crime rate to NYC, just suggesting taking some lessons from there about what to do and not do.

Didnt go back to Red Cabbage right away because by the time we stopped our futile chase, we were already at Aguacates and the priority was to get the credit card stopped. I did take a cab back later but they were closed. Have since tried to go the web site on their flyer, but no dice.

Unless someone can convince me it was a bad dream, I stand by what I said about the neighborhood, and about keeping ones guard up, everywhere. Our strong feelings about this incident are within the norm for people who have this kind of experience.

We plan to come to PV for many years to come, no worry there.

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Theft

Post by Jennybean » Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:13 pm

Our strong feelings about this incident are within the norm for people who have this kind of experience.
Nobody is disputing that. As I noted upthread, I've been there. IN Vallarta.

However you shouldn't let it colour your perception of the city or even the neighbourhood - heck, my theft came in a neighbourhood known as more affluent and upscale, so clearly it can happen anywhere. Crime of opportunity, remember?

What pvmike said about the crime rate is sadly true though, but the crimes still remain theft based as opposed to confrontational violent crime (thank the goddess) so for the most part PV is still a very safe city.

I always tell people and have always told people to be diligent no matter where you are - at home and on vacation. I let my guard down once and paid the price for that - lesson was learned and it will not happen again and has not happened again, and I am happily planning trip #16 for this fall.

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Violations

Post by smitty » Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:30 pm

Oneistwo - thanks for the post and so sorry it happened . I am feeling your anger at the scumbags friends laughing at you . :x No doubt they were the next to do the same crime.
Jenny what crime happened to you ? You are so right- diligence isn't something that can be turned off . :(

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Post by katnsocal » Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:34 pm

Alot of people go to PV with the idea that it is Paradise and nothing bad ever happens there. I do feel safe in PV but you do have to stay aware. I have had a couple of incidents, not with theft but with young guys that have hormones raging. That being said, the age of the kids that did is not at all surprising.

In Mexico the majority of 15-year-old kids are no longer in school, unless their parent have the money to send them to a private school. So you take a bunch of 15-18-year-old boys and put them out on the street to do what they want to do, no school, no job. no responsibility, more often than not parents who let them do what they want because they are considered of age in Mx, and they are going to get in trouble. That is not any different than if they were in the US or Canada. At 15 they are hardly adults and they do stupid stuff at the drop of a hat. Add to these circumstances the fact that they are usually expected to contribute to the support of the family and that they want things every teenager wants. It is a different culture that we as tourists are often not aware of. So depending on the kid and the way they were raised they are going to do whatever they have to do to either get what they want, help the family or in alot of cases just to survive.

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Post by Plus4 » Fri Mar 07, 2008 11:39 pm

oneistwo I am very sorry you had this bad experience.. Thanks for posting this here..
Last Sat. a member of the Playa board I visit had a bad experience also..
I think the comments are very good especially Dianne's last words so I am posting part of the thread here..
..................
Ladies: Watch your purses!



Last Saturday night, after spending a little time at Bad Boyz and running into Shammy at Carboncitos, Diane, Mark and I met up with 3 guys at El Vino for a drink and then about 7:30 we were headed off to HC de Monterrey for the "usual". We were walking along Constituyentes with me walking in front with 2 of the guys. Mark and Diane were holding hands and one other guy, Ray, was walking on the other side of Diane behind us. As we got across Avenida 20, a man snuck up behind Diane and with 2 hands, grabbed the purse she had slung across her shoulder. He yanked her against one of those open phone stands trying to get her purse. We heard Diane and Mark yell and by the time we turned around, all we saw was the guy running across Constituyentes (with Ray yelling obsenities after him). Diane was able to hang onto her purse (she has bruises to show for it). It was pretty scary and Diane was pretty beat up as she was yanked into that phone stand (hurt her ribs pretty badly). It all took about 3 seconds.
I know this kind of thing can happen anywhere, but I was really surprised the guy attempted it with 6 of us, 4 being males and her walking between 2 guys. Also, it was pretty early in the evening, around 7:45. No, we didn't contact the policia, although we talked about it. The bad thing was that none of us knew spanish enough to talk to the policia and also, we didn't get a good description of him, as it all happened so fast.

..................



It's me

Good morning all.

I am Cinker's friend who was slammed into the telephone booth. Thanks for your concern - I'm hurting quite a bit but nothing is broken. However, I really feel the need to respond to some of these comments. Unless and until something like this happens to you, you really cannot say with certainty what you would do. Everything is INSTINCT and there isn't any time for thinking. Like Julie said, it was 3 seconds, tops. There are just a couple of things I'd like to be clear on.

1) The only way we could have been "safer" is if I had slung my small purse (with only essentials in it) across my body and held it in front. This was my mistake. I had it that way earlier, but was just carrying it by my side at the time. We were walking in a group, on a well lit street, with lots of cars and people (but not so many people that we were crowded) at a reasonable hour.

2) I didn't "choose" not to give him my purse. He pulled it from behind with such force that the strap left a huge bruise on my arm. My guess would be (in retrospect) that he thought the strap would break and he would have a clean getaway. In a split second, I was slammed against the pole and seeing black, only hearing my husband's voice as he yelled "oh no you don't" and swung at his head (and missed). I didn't see it coming. At that point, yes, I did hold on to one end of my purse while he had the other. This was just pure instinct - maybe I felt safe because I could see/hear the other 2 men at my side?? At that point, the criminal dropped the purse and ran, before anyone had a chance to think and react and take him down. It was so fast, that wasn't an option. So my choice wasn't drop the purse OR get hurt; it was drop the purse AND get hurt or keep the purse and get hurt.

3) We did not report it to the police at the time for several reasons, namely we couldn't even describe the guy. All I knew was small, quick and dark. 3 different people gave 3 different descriptions of what he had on. And frankly, I couldn't breathe and could hardly stand up. If you've ever had your ribs and back badly bruised, you know how intense and long-lasting the pain is.
Again, I just want to be clear on what happened so that others can be more aware. This truly could happen to anyone. You can be vigilant and aware and still be a victim. For me, that's the scariest part of all.

Diane

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Post by oneistwo » Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:48 pm

Thanks, Kat, for the culture lesson.

In my previous postings, anyone can see I've been one of those "nothing to worry about" people, and I'm not going to do a 180 and get all obsessed about it. We're just going to take precautions we've never taken in PV before. And it may be less than 100% rational to avoid one place when we're just as likely to be victimized in another, but the way we feel now, we wouldn't be able to go back there and enjoy ourselves.

In the meantime, maybe I'll try to find a link to something like "six easy steps to avoid purse snatching," or something like that. Don't carry one would be my first choice, but I'm a guy and don't need a hairbrush and lipstick and tissues and hand sanitizer and mouthwash and all that other stuff.

It's funny and sad no one advises going to the police.

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Post by ellen » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:49 pm

I'm sorry this happened to you, oneistwo, and I thank you for the warning. My personal opinion is that the use of crack cocaine is on the rise here and that always leads to more crime. I spoke with a local woman who counsels prisoners and she told me both crack and crime are definitely on the upswing. Time will tell, I guess.

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Police

Post by Jennybean » Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:28 am

It's funny and sad no one advises going to the police.
I did call the police. They took a report, asked me a couple of questions...and then told me what any police officer anywhere in the world would tell me - don't let my guard down and be smarter about how I carry my belongings and where I keep them next time, so I'm less of a target to a thief.

Which I would almost 100% guarantee you the PV police would have told you and your significant other had you reported this incident.

Diligence about personal safety isn't just an "at home" issue - it's worldwide, it's constant, and shouldn't be left behind when on vacation. Enjoying a holiday doesn't necessarily mean holidaying from ensuring we remain safe and secure, no matter where we are.

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Post by oneistwo » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:36 pm

As promised, I looked at several web sites for advice on thwarting purse snatchers, and the thrust of what I saw was there's not much you can do once you're targeted. Keep your money and keys and such in your pockets, and be ready to say goodbye to your purse because resistance can be dangerous. Carrying a clutch purse, as my girlfriend did last week, is actually recommended because you're less likely to get hurt by getting pulled around by a strap, as happened to one of our posters.

I have of course replayed in my head what happened that night and what I could have done and every scenario I can think of - from the point the strike was made - would have put my girlfriend at more physical risk. (Remember, there were three understudies trailing along with this guy).

Anyways, here's one link:

http://www.womensdefensecenter.com/purse.htm

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Suggestions for avoiding crimes such as these

Post by TheNewGirlInTown » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:29 am

To the person who posted this....I strongly believe, after living in Mexico for 2 years, that your friend was merely a victim of circumstance. I am a very petite, young, blond girl that could be seen as an easy target but I don't ever let my guard down anywhere in the world. There are bad people no matter where you go. Having the street smarts to avoid tempting bad people to do bad things keeps us from finding ourselves victims of crimes such as these.

Keep a small purse that can be hung over you shoulder and not easily ripped out of your hands or just put some money in your pocket and leave your purse at home. Personally, your friend wasn't being very smart by leaving that much money in her purse to begin with. In most all of Mexico, bars and night clubs only accept cash therefor eliminating the need to bring a purse or wallet full of credit cards and identifications.

If you are a woman and plan to travel to any place other than your home town, I would suggest taking a simple one time self defense class or at least reading up on how to be aware of your surroundings in order to prevent criminal acts from occurring. If we continue to be naive and leave ourselves open, the we are only encouraging crime and making it easier for the criminals.

Come on ladies! Lets change the way we present ourselves so that we aren't seen as easy targets anymore!

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Post by oneistwo » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:36 pm

Could we stop the lectures about how much money she had in her purse. I should have stated this more directly: we were seven people meeting at a cash-only restaurant, and we didn't know whether our friends knew it was cash-only and she was prepared to pick up the tab. Turns out they had enough cash and we split the bill.

After 60 years of education in urban "street smarts," one thing I know for sure: we all let our guard down sometimes, no matter what we tell ourselves.

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Post by TheNewGirlInTown » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:23 pm

Didn't mean to offend anyone. I am just tired of people giving Mexico such a bad reputation for things that happen daily, to thousands of people, everywhere in the world.

I would hope that at least a letter of apology was written to the restaurant owners for slamming them in the first post.

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Avoiding crime

Post by kagnew64 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:52 pm

This will be our 10th trip to Mexico and I am using your post as a wake-up
call to our family. I know on past trips we have left ourselves open to
problems. Luckily nothing happened. This year we will have a 1 y/o and
an 8 y/o to distract us. Before leaving the room we will discuss ways to
avoid muggings and purse-snatching. I appreciate alll of the postings
on this thread.

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Post by oneistwo » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:55 pm

Can't work up a sincere apology yet, and a forced one would be backhanded. Maybe two letters, the first urging they recommend their diners not walk in their neighborhood, and assuring that if their customers have trouble, they'll call the police for them. That would be tough for any business owner, in the same vein as grocery story owners telling customers to NOT put their pocketbooks - open no less - on the cart's baby seat. They just don't do it.

How would we word an apology that concludes with we won't be going back to your neighborhood - which means your restaurant - again? Just not ready.

Yes, these things happen everywhere in the world. Please understand it was a shock to us that PV is just like anywhere in the world, since our previous 10 annual visits were blissful (except of course for the time share people).

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Are Pockets Safe?

Post by Donna Kawakubo » Sat Sep 20, 2008 8:33 pm

I went to the bank today to get some traveler's checks for our PV trip, and the bank teller and I talked about taking cash too. Of course we want to take some cash with us. I said our plan was to put the cash in our front pockets only, since purses can be grabbed and back pockets slashed. She said that there are also thieves who slash front pockets! They just bump into you, shoulder-to-shoulder, and when they're gone, you realize your money just left, too.

Now I am trying to decide...what are the chances? is it really worth sewing an extra pocket inside the waistbands of everything my family will wear while we're there? There will be 8 of us, and 3 are large males in their 20's who have worked as bouncers. Does that make a difference? One of them said he would beat up anyone "who tries it"...I pointed out that first, the person would probably be gone by the time he had a clue, and second, it might well be a child...myself, I would rather see that 8-year-old (and as an 8th grade teacher I would even say, yes, that 15 year-old) get away with some of my money than have his teeth knocked out.

Those of you who have been there recently or who live there...if we are on foot at night in October in El Centro and the Romantic Zone, how concerned should we be? It is possible to be robbed, but is it likely? To put it another way, is it worth several hours of sewing interior money pouches into clothing?

And if the young lady who was the original subject of this thread is still following it...I just want to say I am sorry it happened to you, PERIOD. A victim is never to blame. You were not "naive", and had every reason to expect to walk safely down the street and enjoy your vacation. We all do. My condolences for your dreadful encounter.

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Post by oneistwo » Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:13 pm

No, it's not worth sewing money into your clothes. I don't think you have to swing to that extreme, at least not in PV.

Since I started this, let me point out a couple things.
- My girlfriend was carrying a clutch purse, and this may sound silly (to us guys) but she carried it as a place to keep her hairbrush. The fact everything else is in there is incidental. But that made her the softest possible target, walking not only with a middle-aged male on a deserted street, but also 30 feet away from him because he (I) walk too slow.
- Tell your macho males to drop it. Ever try chasing a teenager while wearing sandals, on cobblestones? It's humiliating.
- For decades, at home and abroad, I've been using a trifold wallet which I keep in my front pocket. I started doing that because that back pocket is indeed vulnerable (I used to work in nyc, and could see pickpockets making dry run passes) but mostly because I hated sitting on it.
- I don't think pv thieves have resorted to blades yet.
- Remember, just one kid can be a reign of terror, if he makes one or two hits a night. I wouldn't inherently mistrust the locals.

I recommend the front pocket anyway, and if you need to carry all that stuff women carry, get cargo shorts. Even if there's nothing valuable in the purse, you may get it snatched and maybe hurt in the process. A guy's opinion.

Again, look at any of those sites that gives tips on how to avoid being robbed. The will at least give you the assurance that you can avoid being a target.

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