Yesterday I became a victim of crime in Bogota for the first time. It actually could have been a lot worse. When I got on the Transmilenio, I had my purse. When I got home, I realised I didn’t have it anymore. This was preferable over having a knife stuck in my face and threatened for my bag (which also happens – usually on the busetas or on the street), but it was still extremely annoying. Most annoying is that I had to cancel all of my cards (so I now have no access to any money at all), I have to apply for a new cédula (ID card), a new UK driving license, a new Transmilenio ‘Oyster’ card…
And I think I know who did it; three girls of 15 or 16 years old, standing next to me on a crowded Bogota Transmilenio, and I made the mistake of not guarding my bag well enough. I carry my handbag on my shoulder, usually on my left shoulder, but on this occasion I had it on my right shoulder so that I could rest it on a metal bar in front of me. This left the zip facing behind me, so even though my bag was closed and zipped up (GOLDEN RULE for travelling on public transport!!), whoever was standing behind me out of sight could easily have unzipped it discreetly in the crowded bus and taken a lucky dip for my wallet.
So the safety tip of the day is:
1) Always make sure your bag is closed.
2) Carry your bag in front of you (especially if you have a rucksack/backpack), and make sure that the zip is facing to the FRONT of you so that nobody can access it to open your bag and rob you.
If you are robbed and you have travel insurance, make sure you report it to the police within 24 hours, otherwise insurance companies often won’t let you claim. And obviously if there is violence involved, NEVER resist. Your life is worth a lot more!
Well, now I feel like I truly belong in Bogota! For more safety tips, check How to be safe in Bogota. If you’d like to read some anecdotes on how various people have been screwed over in Bogotá (including some from myself!) pop over to ‘Bogotá for Dummies‘.