Normally we come to you monthly to advise readers of different aspects of the law that affect our daily lives – immigration, real estate, labor, wills, contracts, etc. This month it isn’t so much the law you’re trying to follow, but what others are doing to you that is unlawful.
A very common event we have been hearing about in the papers lately has now happened to several of our clients, three in the past month, in fact. Here is the scenario. You’re out shopping at a popular store or mall. When you’re finished, you get into your car, drive away, and a few blocks later you discover you have a tire going flat. You pull over to deal with the situation and a friendly individual stops to offer assistance. Sometimes this person is alone, but more often than not they are with someone. They all have been very well dressed and were very friendly and well mannered.
They get you busy and distracted, and while your car is open, they take your possessions out of your car. In our three cases, wallet, two purses, some small electronics, and a backpack were taken. Credit cards, checks, cash, and personal I.D. such as licenses, passports, migratory documents, and photos and such were among the items in these purses and wallet.
Being out of your own country, canceling credits cards and replacing I.D.s becomes a lengthily process, as you can imagine. The individuals who are staging this are professionals, and are extremely good at what they do. They most likely have you picked out before you go into the store or mall, and wait for you to come out before puncturing your tire. This gives you time to get away from the parking lot before you notice a problem.
We all like to be assisted when we are in trouble, especially in a foreign country, but the world can be an unsafe place. We must always be aware of our surroundings, and take care to protect ourselves. If this scenario happens to you, in any form of what I have described, please lock your personal items away, call the police, refuse the help, or just lock your car, but be aware of what is happening, especially if you are alone.