We was robbed

by Alex on Sep.09, 2009, under Blog

Well I say we but it was my mate Cam rather than all of us.

A few weeks previously I’d bought an extendable baton after a spate of backpackers getting robbed on the streets of Candelaria (Bogota). No one had been hurt and it seems that generally, muggings in Colombia are not the violent gun and beatings-type that one hears of in Brazil and Venezuela, rather a case of very poor people knowing that foreigners are an easy target and will promptly had over their monies and possessions on the production of a knife. So my intention with the baton was not to beat people off, it was to carry as a display to the potential mugger that it’s probably better to find an easier target.

So, on my last night in Bogota before heading home for a while we headed out for a few beers. It was two and a half blocks to the bar and we were five, with baton in pocket I thought we were pretty low-risk on the getting robbed front. After about a block, a street guy who I’d seen before wandered up to us and started chatting to Cam, I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable ‘I’m not giving you an money conversation’ and wasn’t as watchful as usual feeling pretty safe due to the number of us. Suddenly the guy had grabbed Cam by his jacket with his right hand and had a piece of glass similar to your standard rule what we used to have in school held high in his left shouting to him to give him his money. I pulled out my baton thinking that the guy may decide that it’s best just to leave it. At this point, things and thoughts are going pretty quickly. Not being a Ninja and neither having had years of military training, quite what to do wasn’t as clear cut as one might hope. I was the other side of Cam, the glass ruler robber guy being a few metres from me. Cam was the one that would get hurt if the guy decided to stab and how much did I actually want to hurt this guy. Were I to aim for his head and connect with his temple I could actually kill him, hardly a fitting response to a glass ruler robbery, also, injuring him badly might make him lash out and then Cam gets hurt.

So, I went for the hand with which he was holding Cam, hoping he’d let go. The first strike got him on the back of the hand with the very tip of the baton – a metal disk that I guess is designed to channel the force of the blow through a very small area. With the second I hit him on the forearm a little down the shaft of the baton, it felt a bit tame when it connected and I questioned my decision to buy a plastic baton over a metal one. The guy wasn’t about to let go and I wasn’t sure what to do, I suppose that in these situations you need to be tough and fight without thinking too much but this was all new to me and there were so much information pouring into my brain that I couldn’t make decisions as quickly as I might like. One of the others shouted that Cam should just give him he money and so he fumbled in his pocket and handed over 10,000 pesos, about 3 quid/5 US dollars. The guy then ran away.

We were a little shaken, Cam less than some of the rest of us, he did well. One of the girls was already running to the square we’d been heading for and was telling a police guy what had happened, he didn’t seem to care. Another guy who’d seen what had happened was running towards us telling me that I should have some balls and run after the guy and give him a kick in, after all, we were five! Of course we chatted for ages about what we could have done and upon lightly hitting each other on the arm with the baton reckoned that I must have broken bones in the guy’s hand. And that was pretty much that. So I’ll now be vigilant irrespective of group size and invest in some cs gas when I get back. Oh and a new baton:


3 Comments for this entry

  • andrew

    Al, the only lesson you should take from that is the one that every policeman would tell you and that is just give a mugger the money. In NY when people are shot or stabbed it's often because there was an attempted mugging and they wouldn't give the mugger what they wanted. Just don't carry massive amounts of cash with you and give everything over, cancel your credit card when you get home, it's easy.

    • Alex

      Yeh, most savvy people in Bogota take out just what they need cash-wise, I don’t even use a wallet. Also keeping the bulk of your cash in one’s sock means that you don’t need to lose it all if you are mugged. It’s different in Bogota to other places though, I’ve not heard tell of any violence – the impression I get is one of hungry people trying to scare people into handing over their cash without the intention of actually hurting anyone coupled with the whole ego-gang-face thing that we have in the streets of London and NYC (mo fo). Sheesh man, this dude couldn’t even afford a knife and were he to try to stab with his glass rule he’s probably going to cut the palm of his hand and fingers to the bone with little damage to his attackee.

  • Chala-Istanbul

    Wowww! Finally, you used it haa? I am glad that both of you are OK.

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