Sweata Rungta, 37, an Indian tourist, was victimized on Saturday (March 3) in Manila by two local men who were standing very close to her at a fast-food restaurant at mid-day and stole approximately US$2,333 (P100,000), as well as several other foreign currencies.
At the time, Ms. Rungta, who owns and operates an Indonesia-based flower franchise business, was at a business lunch with her Filipino partners when she suddenly realized that her shopping bag had disappeared, later recalling that she had noticed two positioned very closely to where she and her partners were sitting in the restaurant.
COMMENT: In retrospect, I sure wish that Ms. Rungta had attended one of my "Staying Safe Abroad for Business Travelers" workshops, which could have prevented her victimization from occurring to begin with. These workshops, based upon my book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD: TRAVELING, WORKING AND LIVING IN A POST-9/11 WORLD, educates travelers on the tactics of street criminals worldwide and how to avoid being victimized.
First of all, and particularly after purchasing so many electronics products, Ms. Rungta should have asked the hotel to find her a vetted, non-working hotel employee who she could hire to assist her in safeguarding her purchases while shopping.
Secondly, it might have been safer for her to return to the hotel and safeguard her purchases before having lunch with her partners, that way she could have dropped off the shopping assistant. Alternatively, she also could have rented a hotel-provided car and driver to safeguard her purchases.
Third, with her purchases and valuables so vulnerable to Manila's large cast of criminals, the victim should have selected a more up-scale restaurant that afforded better security for patrons.
Fourth, when the two men began moving so close to the victim to snatch her shopping bag, that should have been a clue that she was being targeted, prompting her to move quickly to a safer restaurant.
What is particularly amazing in this case, is that Ms. Rungta had placed everything in a shopping bag, including her passport, money, etc., all of which should have been concealed from the public in a pair of slacks or even used in an under-garment, attachable pouch to conceal travel documents, credit cards and money.
As I have said in previous postings on a number of occasions, Metro Manila is a high-risk city when it comes to street crime. For an overview of what can and does happen in Manila, please go to the search box in the list of postings and simply type in "Manila."