Robbed in Lima

4 Apr

I arrived in Lima two days ago for a week-long vacation scheduled to really get under way tomorrow with the arrival of my family in Peru.  Unfortunately, I hit a bit of a speed bump this evening.

While sitting at an outdoor cafe right off Parque Kennedy in Miraflores around 8:30pm, catching up with my friend Maike, my little drawstring backpack was stolen.  In the space of just a few minutes between us ordering and receiving our drinks, a man managed to use a knife or something to slit the straps of the backpack, which was slung securely over the chair I was sitting in, and carry it off without me feeling it.  Maike–who was sitting right next to me and looking at me the entire time–didn´t notice a thing.  Neither did the couple who was sitting right behind me, nor the security guard standing just feet away.  Inside my backpack was my trusty Canon S90 digital camera, and more consequentially, my laptop.

While in the States I make use of an external hard drive to backup my files, that is a luxury I have not had in Tarapoto.  I just lost all of my photos from 6+ months in Peru, the entirety of my Technoserve work files, all of my music, personal documents, Photoshop, etc.  While many things are replaceable or replaceable at a cost (guess I know what my just-received 2011 tax refund is going toward), the first two items are mostly not, and that is truly a crushing blow.

Maike and I dutifully went to the nearest comisaria (police station) to file a report, on the slim hope that the cops knew of common local perps and could make use of the video footage from a camera we observed facing us from the street.  We instead encountered an experience so absurdly and stereotypically Third World, we were both left–despite everything–actually shaking our heads and laughing.  It began with entering the station and being directed by a feeble-looking man carrying what looked like an antique rifle to the station´s main office, where a dozen or so officers sat at desks, browsing on their computers or chatting with one another.  There we stood in the middle of the room, looking quite obviously gringo and out-of-place, and–nothing.  No one gave us a second look, even as we remained awkwardly there for a couple of minutes.  Finally we approached one of the policemen and told him we wanted to file a denuncio (report).

We were directed to the corner of the room, to possibly the most disinterested bureaucrat there ever was.  After briefly explaining the situation to him, he proceeded to spend an incredible amount of time asking whether I was single or married, what the names of my parents were, and other minutiae, which he slowly typed into his computer.  He did not try to adjust his loud desk fan placed right between us, which made conversation difficult, and at one point blew his paperwork off his desk (to which he shouted out in Spanish “Where did it go?” while helplessly throwing up his hands).  When we finally got to the actual crime, he did not bother finding out the exact address of the cafe and did not care to hear details about the stolen items–actually vigorously shaking his head no when I tried to tell him about the laptop model, the type of backpack, etc.

At last, after basically assuring me that I would probably not get a follow-up phone call from the police department, we were bundled off to another room, where a heavy-set, heavily-mustachioed old cop behind a desk greeted us by yelling “GOOD NIGHT!”, an English phrase he was quite pleased to get to use.  He then asked me many of the same questions as before, ultimately telling me that I needed to pay him in order to receive a copy of the crime report I had just filed.  Finally, he brought out what must be a hobbyist´s collection of official-looking stamps, and proceeded to decorate a useless printed sheaf in the same style that Jackson Pollock decorates canvases.  That accomplished, he pronounced in a very satisfied manner that we were done, and it was a pleasure to meet foreigners like us.

Caramba.

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5 Responses to “Robbed in Lima”

  1. Ac April 4, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Dropbox!

  2. nj April 4, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Really sorry to hear this man.

  3. neharustagi April 4, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    yikes dude…can’t believe someone was able to pull that off. really sorry that happened

  4. Andrew T April 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    That experience at the police station sounds truly surreal. I might even call it “Kafkaesque”, though probably because I just caught up on Breaking Bad. Really disappointing that even in settled, metropolitan ‘ole Lima you got such a third-world response, as you say.

    This makes me think I should really get a move on in setting up some cloud-based backups.

  5. Phil Ries April 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    ❤ you'll pull through.

    Ever tried making a lost item ad in Spanish? ¿Cómo se dice "no questions asked"?

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