How I lost my phone in traffic to pickpockets, and how I could have prevented it

Once, when I was travelling somewhere, and our car got stuck in traffic. I was in the back seat and my driver was in the front. That was the period BlackBerry Curve was reigning in Nigeria.

Next thing I knew, a ‘beggar’ came to my window, and began to beg for ‘money for pure water’. I didn’t know the begging was just an act until, like a  flash of lighting, the phone thief stretched his hand and quickly snatched the BlackBerry Curve phone  that was lying lazily by my side, and took off in the opposite direction to the traffic. He ran and ran until he ran out of sight.

It was then that I realized that I should have put the phone out of view the moment we joined the traffic, as not every beggar on the street is a real beggar. If I chose that moment to browse or do any other things people do with BlackBerry’s, then the least I should have done would have been to wind up the window of the car.

Sympathetic onlookers came and told me that that area is notorious during traffic gridlock for pickpocketing. They told me of a woman who lost N180,000 when in the same traffic a pickpocket stretched his hand into the car she was in and snatched her bag in the same way my BlackBerry was snatched.

You want to know if I later, somehow recovered the phone, right? Well, I did, but that’s a story for another day.

Moral of the story is; when in a car:

  1. As much as is practicable, always wind up the window if you are in a traffic jam; and
  2. If you cannot for some reason wind your window up, then put your phone and other valuables away until you have passed the traffic, because the eyes of pickpockets are everywhere in such places, looking for valuable things to snatch.

Happy Sunday.

Last bullet: A lady was in a BRT bus in Lagos in traffic and her seat was by the window. She chose that moment to fiddle with her new expensive smartphone. That attracted the attention of some fellow passengers, which was probably what she wanted.

But unfortunately for her, it also attracted the attention of a pickpocket outside the bus. Along he came quietly to her side of the window, and before the lady could say ‘smartphone’ he swiped the phone from her hand.What he did next annoyed people inside the bus. Rather than scamper away like a rabbit, he arrogantly strolled casually away the other side of the road.

It was only when outraged men in the bus attempted to get out of the bus to apprehend him that he quickened his pace, and disappeared into the bush.

If only the lady had known she would not have been displaying the phone without being vigilant about it. She didn’t have the benefit of hindsight in the matter. You have it, so use it. For your valuables, you are better safe than sorry.

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