Saturday, 5 April 2008

Getting Better at Not Being Robbed

What a great title, eh? But if you've been following the plot, you'll know that MamaDuck and I have been robbed a great deal more than you might consider to be reasonable since we moved to Madrid last August.

MamaDuck reports that she spotted a robbing crew on a Metro train a few weeks ago, and gave them such dirty looks that they had to move down the carriage to find a new victim.

Last week in a local pub, the friends I was with had not one, but two laptops with them. The bags were placed between my buddy and his girlfriend, but he went to the little boy's room, and when he came back he sat between the two laptop bags. The approaching robbing crew was spotted by his girlfriend: they were very clearly aiming for the bag on the outside. My buddy moved the laptop bag and the thieves made a swift exit.

Today we had a truly remarkable experience. We were having lunch in a very pleasant restaurant in Lavapiés. Just after the main courses arrived, a waitress ran up to MamaDuck and said she thought her bag had been stolen. Yes, indeed it had. For fuck's sake. She ran out of the restaurant. I followed after putting on my jacket (my jacket is now effectively my wallet: it would be just too ironic to run off chasing a thief, only to find my jacket had gone for a walk)

We ran down Calle Argumosa. Yelling, shouting. It was a fine day and there were many people sitting at tables on the street. Some of them got up and went for a run. We never saw the thief, and gave up the chase about halfway down the street. MamaDuck returned to the restaurant, I continued down the street a bit. And then a miracle happened. A man came up to me and presented me with MamaDuck's bag. Unbelievable! I walked back up the street, holding the bag high. Somebody said 'local hero!' and everybody started to clap as I walked past them. Lovely, it was. MamaDuck was somewhat stunned and amazed to get her bag, and its contents, back.

It's only a matter of time before we actually catch one of these worthless assholes in the act. Expect extreme violence. Possible jail time. Because we're not putting up with this shit no mo'.


Mme Cyn said...

Do you two have "I've been living in a country where thieves get their hands cut off before being deported and we therefore don't have to think about our stuff" written on your foreheads, or is all of Madrid just teeming with the light fingered? It is giving me a very bad taste for Europe... But I didn't feel the least bit afraid of pickpockets or purse snatchers while I was in Paris. Am I just really naive, or is Madrid really bad?

nzm said...

I've heard that Barcelona is even worse, or have the pickpockets moved from there to Madrid?

Judging from your posts, Keefie, it doesn't appear to be safe to go out carrying anything!

the real nick said...

I have heard about Central Madrid being particularly bad.
Funny how living in Dubai one forgets these things, but clutching my bags, not carrying a wallet in my arse pocket and not wearing an expensive watch had always been a feature of my life in major European cities before.

Anonymous said...

I think any large city is going to have thieves - it comes hand in hand with tourism.

We need to get smart and take more care, then it will be harder for thieves to carry out their opportunistic, pretty crimes.

Cairogal said...


leftbanker said...

Yikes, I´m not the least bit careful with my belongings. I kid my Spanish friends about all of the warnings they give me about thieves. I goad them by haqving my wallet sticking out of my pocket or euro notes hanging left on the bar top. I am very protective about my pride and joy (my bicycle). I rarely leave it out of my sight. I used to lock it up on my fifth floor balcony until I decided that there probably was no such thing as a gypsy ninja.

Keefieboy said...

Guys, I just don't know. I do believe Madrid Centro (where we live) is particularly bad. I no longer carry a wallet: money, bank card and keys go in zipped internal pockets in my jacket. I don't know what I'll do in the summer when a jacket is not required. My phone lives in a tight-fitting sock that sits in my trouser pocket and is tied to a belt-loop. I take a mental snapshot of everybody that gets onto the Metro near where I'm standing. I also do some mental racial profiling, and if I'm not comfortable, I move. Haven't been robbed for ages now!

neilt said...


This is very weird, i think my Brummie pal Piyush here told me an almost identical story about a dinner in Lavapies a year or two ago... was the "hero" looking for a tip afterwards?


Neighbour Neil

Keefieboy said...

Neil: welcome to my blawg!