We have made approximately 50 trips to Europe. Knowing this, I have studied the process and been a close observer of their actions. Several years ago one member of our group was a victim of a sleuth on the steps of the Vatican. She never felt a thing. Another lost his wallet watching a shell game at a rest stop. Only later did he know what happened. Too late, his passport was stolen also. These guys and gals are good.
Knowing this, I employed my knowledge on our recent trip to Rome. In crowds I was sensitively aware of what was going on around me. I responded to every bump in a crowd. I caught one fellow and prevented him from using a device that would have enabled him to read credit card information just by passing it by your wallet.
I exercised caution in public even if there was no crowd. Seated on a bus I kept my hand on the Velcro-sealed pocket of my cargo pants.
There were only a few people on the bus so all this caution did not seem necessary, but vigilance never hurts. When I stood to exit a young woman in front of me near the door cautiously held on to poles on each side of the aisle for balance. The bus stopped and I stepped off and cautiously checked my wallet. Gone! Gone? Gone.
My hand wasn’t off my wallet 15 seconds. Holding my hand on my Velcro securing pocket was just the same as saying to the artist, “Here it is.” The cautious girl holding on for safety was the agent’s blocker. Evidently the instant the bus put on brakes to stop the pick-pocket acted, knowing the sound of the brakes would cover the sound of Velcro ripping and the sudden stop would distract me for a brief instant. Their timing was perfect.
I have avoided a lot on scams and deceptions, but this one got me.
I never did send those folks in Nigeria the money they needed to transfer millions out of the country into my account and give me several million for my help.
I really wasn’t mugged recently in the Philippines and did not send an email to a number of friends to please wire me money to get home on. I haven’t even been to the Philippines.
I showed no pity and helping the late Pope’s reputed paramour smuggle millions out of Italy at the time of his death. She acknowledged her gratitude and offered several millions if I would send her my banking information so she could make the transfer.
Last week I turned down an invitation to speak at the First Baptist Church in London, England, in exchange for money that would have enabled them to bring in a number of persons from Third World countries. They only needed a few thousand dollars. As a result of my largess I would be reimbursed and given a generous gratuity. It was a scam also.
To any Gypsy to which the following doesn’t apply I apologize, but from your lore comes this insight. They constitute most of the pick-pockets in the world. Members of this group claim they have a divine right to steal given them by God. Allegedly when Christ was to be crucified a Gypsy stole one of four spikes intended for use in the Crucifixion and relieved Christ of some of His pain. Out of gratitude God gave them the perpetual right to steal.
I wonder what I would have benefitted if I had helped the Pope’s reputed inamorata? Perhaps there really would have been a perk in helping those Baptists in London.
For now I will just hold on to my wallet.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. For copies of previous columns visit www.nelsonprice.com