HAVANA TIMES — When the end of the year holidays approach, thieves enter the picture and begin stealing other people’s belongings.
Of course they’re always around; it’s just that they’re more fervent at this time than during the rest of the year, just like in other big cities of the planet.
Around this time, it’s common for people here to start advising each other not to carry around very much money and to keep their wallets out of sight when in public.
We’re told not to wear gold chains or anything else of value so as “not to tempt the devil.”
But people! There are always a few folks who are careless and thus guarantee the most adept thieves their profit.
Unfortunately, the end of the year celebrations and the wanting to “have a good time” — combined with the absence of the material means to achieve this — encourage many of those who are criminally prone to try to obtain these rewards the “easy way,” if that’s what you can call the act of violating others to accomplish such an end.
Pickpockets take advantage of the turmoil on buses, while others will snatch chains from the necks of their owners or violently strip people of their purses or daypacks. These are the prizes awarded to thieves from abusing other residents of Havana.
With caution and a lot of nerve they go around robbing people, who in their impotence don’t even notify the police.
The victims know that the time spent on complaining and answering questions is usually to no avail. Those are useless acts that end up only frustrating those who attempt them. Plus, how’s anyone going to actually catch the long-gone thief?
During this same period there are also increases in other types of theft, such as burglaries and pilfering from state-run facilities, though these are also common occurrences at other times of year.
Over the last few days I’ve witnessed two pickpocketing incidents on buses.
One happened to a man who said they took not only his wallet from out of his pocket, but also the keys to his house and job. These were all attached to a chain clipped to his belt.
The second incident involved an elderly woman. She had her wallet lifted from her purse.
Both of them tried to pursue the suspected thieves, but these bandits were so fast that they left each of the victims only with a sense of impotence in their attempts at recovery.
Then too, both situations were complicated because they didn’t know for sure who the “perps” were; each of the incidents probably involved more than one pickpocket – as people always say.
One of the most common sorrows is the loss of ID and other documents that are always difficult to re-obtain.
Pickpockets and purse snatchers deliver hard blows to ordinary Cubans, who sometimes carry some or all of their savings on them, be it for the holidays or — in the worst cases — money for remedying an urgent problem.