The Transnistria parliament building with a statue of Lenin out front. In the city of Tiraspol, Transnistria. Photo taken December 9, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mugged!

Okay, sorry for the dramatic title but it's true, we did get mugged today.

We're both fine, and the bad guys got away with very little. In hindsight, we think we did almost everything right so we're going to tell you the story in the hope that someone else can learn from what we did. We also learned from the experience, so we are trying to take away some good from something that is not so good!

It was still full daylight at 5:00pm when we were coming down the path from the "la bufa" lookout over the city of Zacatecas. It's a wide paved path, but hardly anybody was on it. The path ends at a busy roadway, but then there are stairs that continue further down towards the busier part of the central area.

Keep in mind that the following happened in a time frame of about 15 seconds, if that. It all goes by so quickly, that it's amazing you have any time to think at all.

Just before a corner, two guys came out of nowhere. They each had a heavy large knife with a blade about 6-7" long. I knew what was coming right away, and I had our camera in my hand. I swung it by the cord like a weapon, and that made the one guy waste a few seconds while I was backing away from them at the same time. I turned and ran, but only made it about five steps because the other guy had Ruth cornered.

As I turned back, the other guy had grabbed on to the strap of her backpack, and looked like he was going to use the knife to cut the backpack off her back. She was yelling, "okay, okay, just take it."

Meanwhile the other guy was sort of telling me he wanted the camera, and he was looking at my watch as well. Now, the guy had Ruth's backpack, and they were both coming towards me. But Ruth started screaming "help, police, help police" and then "ayuda, ayuda" making all kinds of noise and they both turned and ran.

As they were running, I snapped a picture.

The bad guys! The second guy has Ruth's backpack.

I took off after them, and I could have caught them. What the hell was I doing? I didn't want to catch them!!

By this time, people who lived in the area were coming outside. One nice family stood and talked to us, and we thought they had called the police. Turns out they didn't have a phone and we ended up going down to one of the more major roads and only had to wait a minute before a Policia Tourista truck came by.

They were pretty efficient and within minutes there were more cops and bikes, and another guy on an ATV. He took a look at the photo and took off to look for the bad guys. The Comandante was driving the truck, and she took our report and all our info. We did the whole thing in Espanol!

Then, we got a ride in the police truck!They offered to take us back to our bus stop so we could get back to where we're staying. 

What did the bad guys get? Virtually nothing. A total of about 120 pesos ($9.60) maximum in cash. My old sweater, and Ruth's hand me down sweater she got in England. Ruth's new reading glasses and the case. A Visa credit card. A copy of Ruth's drivers licence. Our "spork"....lol. A bottle of water.

Oh, and our tourist visa's. That's the only real pain in the ass, and we'll have to pay to get them replaced.

It was a bit of a fluke that they didn't get more cash because we had been to an ATM yesterday and I simply hadn't gotten around to handing Ruth a few hundred pesos for her purse. We always separate the money, and carry a little each in different places. We don't wear jewelry when we're out and about, and so other than the camera and my watch there wasn't much attraction.

What did we do wrong? 

I had too much cash on me. I had it in two different pockets, as well as in a hidden money belt. The cash was in all the right places, but I had too much of it with me. When we're on an outing, we normally only have enough cash that we think we might use that day. That, and the watch. I don't normally wear a watch, and it would have been removed when we got to the motorhome anyhow. 

I think the major thing that we did right in that short period of time was to actually waste their time, even if it was only a few seconds. We think it made a difference, although who knows. Ruth gave them what they wanted, but after that I was prepared to run the opposite way because I was confident that I could outrun them!

So, that was our excitement for the day!

67 comments:

  1. Wow! Glad to hear you are both ok.

    Tina

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  2. All I can say is you guys did the right thing. You're pretty smart travelers. I could say it happens everywhere but then again you traveled all over Europe for three months and nothing.

    I wonder if the picture will help if it is enlarged? I guess it doesn't matter, cancel the credit card and chalk it up to experience.

    As for the FMM cards, did you have a copy on your laptop? Is there an office in Zacatecas? If I can be of any help, you know you can count on us.

    Again, sorry you had to go through this. I hope Ruth is okay and not to shaken up. Don't let it stop you guys from doing what you do. Lots of people depend on you. See you soon and we can hash this out over a bottle of tequila, my treat.

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    1. Chris, it can happen everywhere. You mentioned that we went for 4 months in Europe without an incident but we have also traveled all over Mexico for 4 winters without incident, it is just one of those things.

      We didn't get our tourist visa's copied yet, we were actually going to get it done at your place but we knew you were having problems with your printer so we were just going to do it once we got back to Sherman. Should have taken a picture of each of them with the camera but just didn't think of it. Kevin will be in touch with you via email. Thanks, Chris.

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  3. What a horrible experience! I've never been robbed but it sounds like you did all the right things during it. Too bad the police couldn't find them!

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    1. First time for us, hopefully the last! You never know, there is the possibility they may find them but we aren't holding out any hope. The only saving grace is they didn't really get anythng of value and we lost nothing of real importance other than my glasses and our tourist visas.

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  4. Oh Gosh, I know it can happen anywhere, but I am just sorry it happened in Mexico! You guys take care and Sal will see you tomorrow.

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    1. Yep, could happen anywhere. Looking forward to seeing Sal and Sherman. Hope you are doing well Barb.

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  5. Oh my goodness! This is what you almost made me stop being afraid of in Mexico. SO glad they didn't get much and more glad that you weren't hurt. 6-7" knives might have made me faint. Hope getting the credit card cancelled and replaced and the visas doesn't turn into a real mess for you.

    Thanks for sharing this story and your advice.

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    1. We still feel strongly that there is nothing to be afraid of in Mexico. Think about how many muggings happen in the USA each and every day. The knives were scary but not as much as guns would have been! Only had to cancel one credit card so it's not an issue, we don't really need to have it so we will wait until we get back to Canada for it. Don't think our visas will be a huge problem either.

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  6. glad it wasn't worse than it was....stuff can be replaced but you people can't...thankful your ok

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    1. Thanks Elaine! Don't really have much to replace, thankfully and yes, we are glad that we weren't harmed.

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  7. Wow, how aweful. Glad it all worked out. Bet the police could track down the guy in the multi-colored coat, if they are motivated. Start carrying a can of wask spray - shoots 35 feet! Could have happened just as easy here in Denver, or any other city in the world. Some people just suck. Have an extra beer for the nerves tonight, and NEVER let the idiots get you down. They are everywhere.

    Kent

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    1. We have nothing bad to say about the police, they were great. They got the description out right away. To be totally honest, I think they cared more than what the Canadian or American police would have. It certainly seemed like they were on the look out right away. They got our information and we got a contact from them as well.

      Don't think wasp spray would have helped. If we had the spray it would have been in the backpack and I don't think I could have convinced them to let me get anything out of the bag before handing it over to them and we certainly won't be carrying it around in my hand. We definitely had a drink as soon as we got in the door! Don't worry we won't let it get us down.

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  8. Sounds like that could have been really ugly, glad it turned to be a lot better than it could have been.

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  9. Very sorry to read about this, Ruth and Kevin. Glad you are both safe. That is the main thing!!!
    We'll see you both soon.

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  10. Have a drink and relax. It most certainly can happen anywhere. Yes, even up here in the great white north! Obviously, glad you're fine......

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    1. Definitely had a drink! Hopefully this will be our first and last time with an experience like this.

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  11. add my best wishes to the above..you are safe the main thing cheers Les

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  12. Holy crap! I'm sure glad you are okay! That's the main thing. My friend tweeted the other day that she was mugged by two guys in Chicago. She doesn't carry much with her either so they didn't get away with anything important. She got her life which was way more important.
    Nothing can replace life! Everything else is secondary. Sounds like your instincts kicked in and you did it all right. Good thing to know your plan for next time (hope it never happens but you never know!).
    Sometimes you have to have one bad experience to formulate that plan.
    take care and be safe!!!

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    1. Yep, that's what we say, it can happen anywhere. Glad you friend is fine too.

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  13. glad that you are both okay! at least the muggers only got a few items..being unhurt is much more important!

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    1. We are happy that we weren't harmed and we didn't really lose anything too important.

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  14. Most important thing is you guys are okay. Everything else can be taken care of eventually. And you're right - this could happen anywhere to anyone.

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    1. As many have already said, things can be replaced, being in one piece is the most important thing. Thanks!

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  15. Well these things happen, and certainly not just in Mexico. I think you both handled it just right. I am sure you are shaken up, too bad. Oh and Ruth's new glasses, what a bummer. Maybe she can order another pair and Chris can bring them down at Xmas.

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    1. Funny enough, we were more shaken up with the car accident a week before than we were with this. We feel we did everything right but we are always replaying it over in our minds and wondering if we should have done anything different. The muggers got little out of the deal and we were unharmed so I guess that we did the right thing. As for the glasses, we are going to contact the company and see if they can deliver here or make arrangements to have someone bring them down.

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  16. You guys did the exactly right thing. Just throw all your stuff at them and let it go. You never know what these people are capable of doing. And not worth finding out.

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  17. Well now, that was certainly an experience. I was getting a little worked up there just reading it.
    I've had a couple encounters with potential thieves. When it comes to "fight or flight" I'm a bit of an idiot I'm afraid, but I won't be telling any tall tales.
    As I've aged I would hope the "flight" part would kick in. You did the correct thing. Sucks about the new glasses and the paperwork though. And wasn't that one of those awesome new back packs?? Gah.

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    1. Kevin thought about the "fight" but choose wisely not to give it a try. When they have big knives, it is better to just hand your stuff over. Yep, if sucks about the glasses, I didn't even have them for 2 weeks. The backpack was not one of our nice travel backpacks, just a real cheap daypack one, so no great loss there either.

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  18. So sorry to hear this has happened but I reckon law of averages in long term travel it will happen sooner or later. Brought back a bit of deja vu for us but feel you reacted better than Steve did !

    http://glenswatman.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/mugging-and-knife-attack-travel-log.html

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    1. While it was happening I thought of you and so did Kevin when he began to chase after them and then remembered what happened to Steve, so he just let them run off. Think it was the best thing to do.

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  19. There are street robbery's everyday here in the states, you guys did the right thing and all is well, now have a couple of dri9nks and get on with life. Even as a police officer as I told you on Facebook I was approached by a knife welding robber on a parking lot, We both lived to fight another day. Be safe out there and order another set of those free glasses, tell the manufacturer they are so popular people are stealing them. Sam & Donna..

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    1. We definitely had a drink when we got back to our friends house. Like your idea about the glasses, we will mention that to them, you nver know they may just send us another pair.

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  20. Thank goodness neither of you had to encounter the knife. "Things" can be replaced. Love Sam's idea of how to get free glasses!

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    1. Thanks Margie and Roger! You are right "things" can be replaced. We love Sam's idea too!

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  21. Could happen anywhere, glad everyone is fine!

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  22. An adrenaline rush for sure! Gerry and I are glad you are both ok. It's true, it can happen anywhere and does. There are thieves in every country.

    So happy you aren't letting it get you down.

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    1. Thank you Brenda and Gerry. Nope, we aren't letting it get us down, life is to enjoy and that is what we like doing.

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  23. Sorry to hear about the mugging; glad to hear you're safe. Yes, it can happen anywhere in the world, so being afraid to explore makes no sense. Common sense rules the day.

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    1. You're right, if you let yourself be afraid you would never get to see the wonders of the world. More good things happen than bad. Definitely, need to use common sense.

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  24. I'll add to everyone else so glad you are okay. One of the reasons I dont carry a purse, just a clutch, money & cards in my pocket. Area I used to work in in St Louis was high crime. If they grabbed the clutch, would hope they had asthma because about all I have in it are inhalers and tylenol. :-)
    Glad your common sense kicked in and you stopped chasing them.

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    1. Thanks Donna! It always makes good sense to have your money and anything of importance is a separate spot. That way if you are mugged/robbed they will go after the bigger item assuming that you have all your "stuff" in it.

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  25. Donna W has the right idea. I carry my money and card in my pocket too. It just looks like another fat bulge and I dont think the bad gusy want to go there!!!!

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  26. Oh dear...we are so sorry that you had to go through that. I can't say what I would do in that circumstance. I am calm now but in real-time I wouldn't have the foggiest idea. Just so happy neither of you were hurt!

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    1. Thank you Paul and Marsha! We agree, you can think about it all you want beforehand as to what you would do but when it actually happens, you just don't have much time to react. I think every case can be different depending on the circumstances but normally the right thing to do is just hand over your "stuff".

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  27. Yup.. coulda happened anywhere! Glad you are safe.

    My grandma used to carry her main cash in a Sucrets metal box, and only a few dollars in her wallet. She was mugged once, where they grabbed the wallet and tossed her purse (with the money inside) into the trash, which got recovered behind the store. But she was still mad the grandkid photos in the wallet were gone!

    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com

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    1. Glad that your Grandma got her money back and wasn't hurt either. You too, have just proved that incidents like this can happen everywhere and to anyone.

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  28. I think you were both lucky to have escaped any physical harm. Not so sure about the plan of attack, although it did assist you this time. 2 guys with knives vs man & woman with no knife...odds are not in your favour.

    And while you indicate you were confident you could outrun them...could Ruth?

    Good thing for you they were probably amateurs or the results could have been far worse.

    Safe adventures in the future.

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    1. hello friends what a shame what happened. Best of all, you are right, I send a warm hug and hope in Valle de Bravo. chago and have ready for the little apartment. bye

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    2. @ I'd rather be Sailing, I think you are right. Kevin would have been able to out run them but he knew that I wouldn't have been and because of that he didn't run. I still think that we did do things the right way and handed over the bag like they wanted. They were probably amatuers but they were also doing this in daylight hours and very close to houses so they wouldn't have had much time before someone would have walked up on the incident.

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    3. Gracias Paco y Oty por el cálido abrazo y por pensar en nosotros Estamos deseando ver de nuevo este invierno, así como Chago y su familia.

      Thank you Paco and Oty for the warm hug and for thinking of us We are looking forward to seeing you again this winter, as well as Chago and his family.

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  29. Im so sorry to hear about this, Im glad you two are OK. Out of all the blogs I read of traveling in Mexico, you and one other couple are the only ones who haven't been robbed. I hope it never happens again.

    Jeff

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    1. Thank you Jeff. It's strange that you mention as us and one other Mexican blogger to have been the only ones that hadn't had this happen to them. We know of only a few others that have had any kind of problem with theft and most of them it was from their vehicles or homes, not from beginning mugged. In general, I think most motorhomers and travelers have had nothing but good experiences. We also hope that this will never happen again.

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  30. Oh, my goodness!!! Thank heavens you are okay! We're gonna have a HAMMS now to celebrate and calm our nerves! (((HUGS)))

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    1. Hope the HAMMS was good and that your nerves are calm again. Ours are now too! Thanks for the HUGS!

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  31. Hey Jeff, there are many many of us who have never had a problem in Mexico, we have been going there in our Rv for 14 years with no problems at all.

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  32. Glad you are ok! Appreciate the description of what happened. This made me think through a 'what if situation' which may help if we are ever faced with a similar situation.

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    1. Hopefully you will never ever have a similar situation. I think also that every situation can be different but it certainly helps to be prepared for it.

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