16 December 2015

The Not-So-Violent Gypsy Pocket Trick

So it has happened to me for a third time; I almost became a victim of petty crime here in Berlin. You know, you're alone, commuting back home, changing subway lines, and as you're climbing the staircase in the station, suddenly you feel that someone's hand is in your pocket.

This incident happened to me back in October. Thankfully, I was alert, and felt the intruding hand. I raised a fuss, turned around, and successfully foiled the attempt. The culprits were two young guys, dressed in suits, who looked like Gypsies or Roma or Turks. Not that it mattered.

See, I almost had a feeling something weird was going to happen. I was changing from the U6 to the U12, which meant that I had to go from underground to above ground. I first exited the station, because I wanted to get some Ethiopian take-away, but later changed my mind, thinking that it would be better to get Ethiopian take-away from the other Ethiopian restaurant I know, which was closer to home. So I went back to the station and headed to the U12.

The escalator was where I was heading to. It turned out that the escalator was out of order, yet I opted to simply just climb up. As I was heading to the escalator, there were these suited guys who were going from the escalator, then looked at me, not to me directly, but below my waist. Later on, I figured they must have been checking bulges on pockets to see which ones had something they could pick.

I didn't pay attention to them at all, only when I was in the middle of climbing the escalator did I feel a hand in my pocket. Not too deep, but just by the opening. I already shouted and turned around, and they feigned ignorance. Thankfully, my pocket was deep enough, and my wallet stayed inside.

So I guess this is the third time I had an encounter with petty thieves here in Berlin. The first time was in 2012, in Alexanderplatz. The second time was in December 2013, near Leipziger Strasse. And this is the third time.

I find it interesting that Berlin is where I would encounter these negative social elements. I have lived in Manila and I never had a bad encounter there. I've been to "dangerous" places in Latin America and I also didn't have a negative experience. Instead, I get all of my negative social experiences here in Berlin, where I live. I suppose in a probabilistic manner that makes sense.


  1. This kind of petty thief makes me rage. I can't stand it. It's weird because I sympathize with poorer folks and needing money, etc. It's more the deception I can't take.

    1. Zhu,

      It's frustrating, isn't it? You don't want to stereotype certain groups of people, yet these things give you contrary data points.