Backhandbag

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This has been going the rounds among the women in Jakarta. It was penned by a staff of an embassy but Unspun thought he’d conceal her name. So women, watch your backs and handbags.

I’m writing this note to alert you and please pass this info on to your
friends.

My bag almost got stolen today while I was having tea with a friend in Cream
& Fudge Factory in Senayan City (yes, right in the middle of
the basement with a lot of people and security all around). It’s a group of
thieves from a syndicate based in Pasar Senen (surprise,surprise). Fifteen
minutes after this happened to me, they hit another woman sitting in Coffee
Bean just across. But she was not so lucky. They got her bag.

These thieves are very fast and organised. They obviously chose to hit ladies
who are sitting in cafes, cos we tend to be more relaxed and less alert, and to
leave our bags on the chairs/seat. They use middle-aged women (not particularly
well-dressed but not shabby either) to do the job, and they have guys waiting
around, so the women will
pass the bag to the guys after they take it and make their getaway.

This is what happened: My friend and I were both absorbed in our own stuff; I
had my bag open on the seat next to me (yes, my own fault). The first woman
came up to us and ask for the time (but very rudely). My friend ignored her but
I felt bad so I answered. That was 3:45 pm.

My friend later told me while I was looking at my watch the woman was looking
at our stuff. Without even bothering to say thank you, she walked off and sat
down at a table diagonally across from us, and she faced my direction and kept
staring at me. At that point I felt it was really odd cos she didn’t order
any food or drinks. Of course on hindsight she was the scout sent to identify
the target (i.e. me) and gave the signal to her team by talking to me and
facing me when she sat down.

Barely a few minutes after that, I saw out of the corner of my eye, my bag
being moved from the seat next to me. I jumped up, turned around and saw a
woman seated behind me, reaching her hand into my bag. I then shouted at her
and asked: “Why is your hand in my bag?” At that point she panicked
cos everyone was looking. I grabbed my bag and checked
that everything was still intact. She tried to get out of it by saying,
“No, no I didn’t touch your bag, maybe the chair moved it.”

There was no table behind me. The closest table was diagonally behind me, so
this woman had pulled her chair a long way to sit right behind me. At this
point, I saw a third woman standing nearby, obviously another accomplice. She
took out her mobile phone and started calling(obviously to ask for instructions
or to alert someone the job was
botched).

I asked my friend to observe if they are going to buy anything. They pretended
to order some drinks from the cashier. I then decided to
alert the staff and security. The minute I stood up and started walking to the
counter, they ran. The staff told me there was also a guy with them. One of the
male staff gave chase and security was called. I gave the description of the 3
women to security.

At about 4:05, while I was still speaking with the security, I saw a woman
walking out from Coffee Bean, which was just a few feet away from where I was,
looking very lost and upset. I heard her say “my bag is lost.” So I
went up to her and ask her what happened. It was the same syndicate and they
used the same ruse (i.e. asking her for the time to
distract her).

Similarly, it was a middle-aged woman who approached her. And a guy was
standing nearby. Based on our descriptions and with the staff from Cream and
Fudge and Coffee Bean helping to look, the security caught the woman who stole
the bag from Coffee Bean and the one who tried to steal mine, just as they were
about to board a taxi. The other accomplices were not caught.

So then this is the best part of the story. We went to the security office. The
thieves were questioned and beaten right in front of me and the lady who lost
her bag. The woman who tried to steal from me even tried to threaten me when I
identified her. I spent two hours there writing a long statement etc. cos
without my collaboration, the lady who lost her bag didn’t have much of a
case. Guess what? The case never went to the police. The thieves caved and said
they would return the stolen bag. I was hopping mad of course. Yes, they have to
return the bag, but why should they get away?

So here’s the explanation: If we went to the police, the gangsters would
show up and pay off the police to release the two women (who were after all
just the sacrificial lambs used to do the dirty job and risk getting caught).
If they are really bad gangsters, then they would also pay the police to
release my info and the victim’s info, and then they
would come and threaten us.

So according to this so-called reasoning: if the thieves return the bag, at
least the lady got her stuff back. So we should let it go. And no harm would
come to anyone, including the security guys who caught the thieves.

NO HARM??!!

If we go to the police, we would waste a lot of time, and money, and the bag
will never come back.

Brilliant, isn’t it?

SO that’s why I am writing this note, and some of you already got my sms.
After I sent out the sms, two friends replied that this happened to them in
Plaza Senayan.

When I left the security office, one of the thieves had gone off to get the bag
for the victim. I hope she got her bag back. But what it means is this gang is
free to do it again…maybe to one of you. And again, and again, cos they know
for sure nothing is going to happen to any of them, even if they get caught.

So tell this story to all your friends and warn them about this bunch of thugs.
It is WRONG WRONG WRONG that they should be allowed to get away and do it again.
But in a place where the law and system doesn’t work and is not going to
protect innocent people, we can only protect ourselves and one another.

If anyone knows where to buy mace, please tell me. The next time someone tried
to steal from me or attack me or my kids, I will mace them, and use this trick
I learnt in my teens: always carry your keys
in your hand, place the longest key in between your index and middle finger,
sticking upwards. If anyone attacks you, stick it right into his/her eyeball.
If it’s a guy, knee his groin and then run and yell
for help.

I am SO NOT going to be a victim. And neither should you.

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