Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Robbery‏

I was robbed at threat of violence yesterday for the first time,
naturally my first inclination was to write about it:

I've lived here for 2 years and never had an incident like that. It's
made me realize that the most basic thing, before weapons or
self-defense training, is pulling your head out of the cloud of
distractions and being aware of your surroundings. I was walking on
the dark side of Juan B. Justo, near the train tracks, that was my
first mistake. Nobody walks on that side because it's an easy scalp
for a thief. I crossed over on the last block before the subway
because the traffic gave the opportunity, thinking it was an efficient
way to minimize my travel time, quite the Yankee mentality.

You've talked a lot about being aware and projecting a "don't fuck
with me attitude" instead of a "clueless tourist" or "helpless victim"
vibe, but if you do find yourself accosted by armed thieves, what's
your call? In this case these kids just had a puny knife, the other
kid had his hands in his pockets as a bluff, could have had a piece,
probably didn't. I figured I could probably handle it and I'm
physically about as framed as both of them put together, but I've got
family to take care of, didn't think it was worth the risk.

Where do you draw the line on discretion?


Hi Patrick, sorry to hear that man. Sounds like ordinary "rateros".
If you live in Buenos Aires, its pretty much a matter of time for most people to get robbed. All things considered, you were lucky. You don’t need me to tell you that though, you can hear it every single day about people getting murdered in Buenos Aires for their car, sometimes just a couple pesos. You still don’t understand Patrick, THEY CAN KILL YOU AND NOT SEE A DAY IN JAIL. Even for adults, in socialist Argentina, a criminal is a poor victim of society, while you are the blood thirsty assassin if you dare train to defend yourself, let alone carry a weapon.

I don’t think you realize the seriousness of the situation here. Why do you think no one else was walking on that side of the street, by the train? Most Argies would know better.
In spite of making the mistake of being there in the first place and getting caught by surprise, you handled things well: A few bucks is not worth getting stabbed. Even having a throw away wallet with a few bucks is a good idea. Even if armed, its MUCH cheaper and less hassle to just give the little punks some money and go your way. It’s the cheapest, fastest solution.

Having said that there are other situations where you may not want to surrender, or where doing so is likely going to get you or your loved ones killed or worse anyway. For that, I’d recommend taking a few self defense classes and learning how to use weapons, and for that I cant recommend Jorge Baigorria enough. Again, sorry that you had to go through that, but as I said before and you hear on the news everyday, count your blessings, you were pretty lucky.
Where to draw the line? Its not easy, and you'll have to forever live (or die) with the choice you mkae in that split second. At least for me, a few bucks, even my car key, its not worth the corpse to explain, now when my family is invovled or when I see that it could end up in a situation I could regret the rest of my life (forced inside your home, kidnaped , etc) that's where I draw the line.



Anonymous said...

For me "the line" was when the robber that had a gun to my forehead said to get in the car. I knew right there and then if I did I was dead. So I refused and said no. He told me several times to get going and each time I said no. Just as I was about to "rush" him and hopefully take him by surprise before he could shoot me (I thought), his accomplice said to leave me and just put me in bathroom with the others.

I truly believed I had better chance fighting it out then going in the car. They were both caught several weeks later and just gotten out of jail for armed robbery before robbing where I worked. Crazy.

Patrick said...

Lesson learned about positioning. We live in an apathetic society thanks to all the crappy food and media people consume, but even then there's a risk to a thief trying to operate in a higher traffic area that they probably don't want to take. Your writings about opportunistic criminal behavior is probably more valuable than a taser and pepper spray combined, and it's free!

I think a back-up wallet is a really good idea, carrying anything beyond petty value in cargo pockets (such as documentation and bank cards) is now standard operating procedure for me.

I didn't say anything, my first though was that they were just really aggressive homeless people asking for cash, I tend to pass people a small bill when they ask as a matter of principle. They said "cellular" and I passed it to them, they said "la plata, la plata" and I gave them my wallet. Ya esta.

I'm going to look into self defense classes in case the next time they're not happy with what I have on me and I have to make an evasive manuever at close range. The simplest thing, I realize, is the back-up wallet, because thieves are generally rushed and if you have a wallet with a mere 20 pesos in it, that might just save your life.

FerFAL said...

The decoy wallet is a good one. several 10 pesos bills and some useless cards will do the trick after a quick glance (if he even bothers) but I'd still carry oc spray and a knife, both are legal, there's no knife lenght limit as in most US cities and it can be used in case, as you said, that they want more than money.
You dont have to go stabbing everyone that looks yo uthe worng way, but if after giving up your wallet they say lets go, you can put your weapon and training to good use.


Anonymous said...

I worked professionally in counter-terrorism and the analysis of violence several decades ago. We interviewed hundreds of bad folks in several prisons...murderers, rapists, kidnappers. Without going into detail, the one primary thing we learned was...never leave the scene with anyone, almost no one survives that scenario. Run immediately or if you have any opportunity; there is very little in it for potential robbers or kidnappers to shoot you in the back as you flee. All they do is call attention to themselves. It's much easier to find a different and passive victim. This is a data based suggestion. A final note...even the folks who survived kidnappings..in the U.S. or international ones...they were psychologically harmed to a significant degree even if not formally abused.


Anonymous said...

yes. decoy wallet. i've posted
here before. in Atlanta, GA, USA
my decoy wallet worked. it was an
old wallet with fake cards and one
$5 USD with 4 $1 USD in it. total cost: $9. act nervous then drop it and back away. done and done.

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, you warned people about fancy cars...


Anonymous said...


Just thought I would mention that I was in the bank the other day-- in California-- and I heard the guy at the next window talking about how good the Italian food is in South America.

(The teller had noticed his Italian surname and thought he would know were to find the best Italian food in California)

He said that, better than Italy, is the Italian food in S. America.

I said, "Argentina"? and he said, yes, how did you know? the Italian food is the best in the world in Argentina

Then he told me he lived in California for 8 months of the year and Argentina for 4 months--

Then he showed me a pic on his phone of his home, a beautiful , preidential, town home in Buenos Aires-

it reminded me of an absolutely, top of the line Wash Dc townhome, or better, with a Parisian touch
So gorgeous

You can see that the architecture in B AS resembles Paris / Europe

He then told me that Argentina is as safe or safer than the USA

I said, WHAT?

I said what about those miles of tent cities I have seen there?

Oh, those , he said. Well, it's just that Argentina used to be the safest, most cultured country in the world (100 years ago) and they have never adapted to the modern life etc etc

I could tell he was in total denial.

He was obviously extremely rich so did not have to rub shoulders with the poor.

Oh, well

So I ran into the denial you talk about!

Wait till he gets mugged!

FerFAL said...

"Wait till he gets mugged!"
I doubt it will change his view. He's got money, he's living the good life in Argentina, its cheaper to live the rich and famous life here than compared to USA. Doens't take that much to be the rich guy in Argentina while in USA its more of a challenge, believe it or not, some people tihnk that way.


Serge Truth said...

Those kinds of thieves are called гопники (gopniks) in Russian. Gop stop = a sreet robbery.

Typically a group of gopniks approach a person, often with some kind of question, surround the person, and take away their money and cell phone. Often the victim is injured in the process.

Know your gopnik (plural=gopniki)!