In a flash, my friend went from processing my pizza orders to screaming and crying from being robbed in broad daylight.
Yesterday, at around 1:00 pm, she left her newly-opened pizza store along a major road in Taguig City to retrieve items from her car, also parked on the same street. Two men riding a motorcycle together boldly went to one side of her SUV and smashed the window on the passenger side.
She and her husband saw it, and so did many onlookers. She rushed to the car but one of the men pointed to his side, showing off what could have been a gun judging by the impression and told her not to come closer. They rode away with her bag filled with her ATM and credit cards, her husband’s laptop and other valuables. It was all over in a matter of minutes, and she was left shaking on the side of the road.
Petty crime takes place too often and nearly everywhere in Metro Manila that this is no longer a cause for serious concern for most people, until it happens to you. In my friend’s case, she was victimized not only in the middle of the day but also in a busy street with many commuters and passersby. Sadly no one came to her aid.
Late last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) actually reported a dramatic decline in crime cases during the quarantine restrictions across the country. Translated to a daily crime average, PNP Deputy Chief for Administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said we recorded about 93 criminal incidents per day during the 200-day implementation of the community quarantine compared to 174 per day incidents of the 200-day period before its implementation. He added that the drop was likely due to two key reasons: the community quarantine denied criminal elements the usual opportunity to strike, plus the increased police visibility down to the barangay level.
But social media chatgroups present a different picture – where we all share what happened to a friend, or a friend of a friend, making us feel that the economic downside brought about by the quarantine has made some desperate people resort to desperate measures. And since we are still in quarantine mode, and police visibility should have remained high, let what happened to my friend be a reminder to us all to stay vigilant.
How to make sure you do not suffer a huge loss in case of theft? Let me share some advice below, that I hope will be useful.
#1 Keep the valuables hidden from sight.
Even if you are just leaving your car for a quick trip down the street, make sure that your bag or phone or laptop are stored securely in your trunk. If your car looks empty, petty thieves hoping to make a quick buck will not see anything worth stealing. This can be an inconvenience if you like to have everything accessible to you, but consider how losing them will be a greater inconvenience.
#2 Check that you locked your car.
With keyless entry and remote control access, many actually forget to lock their car after parking it. In the past, when we had an actual key and had to go through the motions of keying it in to lock a car, people were more careful, and would even walk around their car to check if all doors are locked. Car mechanics warn that sometimes the battery in remote control keys lose power without warning, so owners wrongly assume it is still working. Why not take a few seconds to do this for your own peace of mind.
#3 Do not be robbed a second, or third time.
I lost my wallet once, and not only did I lose my cash, I also lost my ATM and credit cards. Imagine if a thief takes your cash, then goes shopping with your credit card plus withdraws your ATM funds too! That’s three strikes and your money would be wiped out. After my sorry experience, I learned to leave the house only with what I need. Why not just take one credit card with you, and one ATM card, plus a small cash enough for the day? Let’s call this spreading your risks and minimizing potential losses.
#4 Who you gonna call?
My friend had the presence of mind to call her banks and report the stolen ATM and credit cards immediately. She also asked help from her staff to make calls so that the theft is reported across her banks quickly. Thankfully she knew how to get in touch with her banks even on a weekend. How about you? She had her mobile phone with her so the thieves did not take it. But consider a scenario where even your mobile phone is lost. You need access to the bank phone numbers and other important numbers, with or without your mobile phone.
#5 Leave the IDs you don’t need at home.
It’s also important not to take all your IDs with you. If you are going to the grocery, you won’t need your driver’s license unless you are driving, or your SSS or GSIS card, or PhilHealth card, even your company ID. How about your residential ID? That’s a cause of concern as it will have your latest residence details. Don’t tell me you also have your passport with you? Only take that if you are boarding a plane, and only for international flights. Traveling light will mean fewer things to lose in case of theft so check your bag and your car for the things you are carrying that are best left at home.
#6 Check your insurance coverage.
Car insurance nowadays also offer coverage for theft of personal valuables from your car. You may also get insurance for valuables such as mobile phones and laptops. My friend learned that reporting the theft to the police will allow her husband to collect insurance for the loss of his laptop and have it replaced. All these can somehow help you recover what you have lost.
#7 Love yourself.
Years ago, I knew a journalist who rode a bus to work and had on him an expensive mobile phone that cost more than my refrigerator at that time. He was robbed, and he resisted, and sadly passed away from wounds inflicted from the thief’s attack. So when my friend told me she ran to the car when she heard the alarm go off and saw the thieves, I scolded her for not putting her safety first. You can also buy another car, or another laptop, or another bag, but there is no replacing you. If you become a victim of theft, let them take what they want, be safe and love yourself.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.