A mishap

24 04 2008

I think I was robbed yesterday. I can’t actually prove that I didn’t lose my wallet due to my own stupidity, but I’m extremely suspicious. Yesterday I went into town to pay my water bill, which in itself could be considered robbery given how rarely water actually comes out of my taps, and rather than cycling I got a lift into town from some work colleagues. Having finished my business and got some money from the ATM I climbed into the back of a shared taxi, rapidly followed by a local. This guy sat between me and the final occupant and proceeded to spill his money in front of me. Being a helpful chap I bent down to give it back to him, but he still bent forward over me, apparently searching for more coins beneath the driver’s seat. He then paid the driver and quickly got out. Looking back I was surprised at his clumsiness, I actually thought for a moment that he had deliberately thrown the coins but dismissed it, and he did seem a bit eager to leave the taxi before I did. When I got out I discovered my wallet was missing. I checked the back seat to no avail. My suspicion (improvable) is that the dropped coins were a distraction while he removed my wallet from my pocket.

It’s a bit disappointing to have lost my wallet, my old Hong Kong Id card has gone along with my RAC and labour party membership cards, some money and a few other bits and pieces. I suspect the ID and membership cards wouldn’t have been terribly useful here in Ghana but a shame anyway. The money and my credit and ATM cards is more of a loss. But slightly more of a shame is to feel that I may have been robbed. I’m used to the idea of my being stupid, and know that I can be absent minded, but I don’t think I was yesterday. Even sadder is the slight disillusionment. I mean, I knew crime happens in Ghana. At least two of my VSO colleagues have been burgled, another had her bicycle stolen and various people have lost purses or wallets, but so far I’ve been in a nice bubble. I’m still convinced that overall Ghanaian’s are amongst the most honest and friendliest people going, but I’ve made more aware that there are a few who may be less so.

As a result I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the bank here or on the phone to my bank in the UK cancelling cards and arranging for new ones to be issued. Ironically my UK ones had stopped working anyway due to bureaucratic mistakes by them so hopefully the positive outcome of this will be that I’ll be able to access my UK money again. Annoyingly I doubt that I’ll get any cards at all until the week after next so will be forced to go into the bank to withdraw cash.





One response

1 06 2008

I’m sorry to read about your experience and I am afraid you are probably correct in your suspicion. This is a well known classic robbery distraction technique. It is likely that he had been monitoring you – (“having…got some money from the ATM I climbed into the back of a shared taxi, rapidly followed by a local”) and thereby knowing your wallet will contain rich pickings.

Unfortunately this experience is as likely to happen in London as in Ghana, or indeed most anywhere else. It is such a shame because these villains, by taking advantage of honest-minded helpful people, promote a more distrustful and cynical world where people may be less inclined to be helpful.

The other obvious advice is not to keep your wallet where it can be easily pickpocketed.

“….Will be forced to go into the bank to withdraw cash.” – be aware you may be targeted by these villains who hang around banks and ATMs monitoring for potential prime victims , so do please be careful.

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