I met the elderly British victim moments after her bag was stolen. She’d been sitting on the beach in Alicante, Spain, eating potato chips. Her bag was right beside her. She lowered her head for a moment, just long enough to stare at her watch—she can’t see a thing without her glasses, which were in her bag. In that moment, her bag was taken.
It was 2 p.m. on her last day in Spain.
As I walked the woman to her hotel spa where she hoped to find her husband, she tried in vain to keep the tears from flowing. She was in a panic about her glasses and getting through airports without them. I had to brief the husband, because by then the woman had lost her composure.
A policeman had written down the address where the woman could go to file a report. Do you think she’ll get in a cab and go? No, I don’t either. If anything, she’ll find a quickie glasses shop and get some distance lenses that will see her safely home. She won’t get the bifocals like those she lost, though.
The cop said he’d guess there are about five reports a day of beach bag theft. We know the elderly Brit who can’t see isn’t going to file a report. What about the twenty-something with her boyfriend? The two guys on the prowl? The cruise ship passenger who has to be back onboard at 4:00? How many will file police reports?
The beach-shack soda-seller thought he’d recognize five or six of the area’s regular bag thieves. Are there more? How many bags does each steal in a day?
The cop defined the technique as he understands it. The perp targets a bag and creeps close with his towel or blanket. He waits for the bag’s owner to move away. He covers the bag with his towel or blanket and makes off with the hidden treasure.
Not rocket surgery.
Not the only way, either. Look at our poor British victim. She didn’t leave. She didn’t nap. She just looked away.
Bags. Like wallets and smartphones, they have legs.