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Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
6 posts
39 reviews
Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

Please be aware that groups of thief are still VERY active in Arica. Our daypack was stolen doing the old distraction trick. Due to the fact that we had our passports in the daypack (just got of the bus) we had to abort our plans and fly to Santiago for emergency passports. At the the 3 different embassies we had to go to, all three showed us piles of records of similar incidents from Arica.

Yes, it was our fault to be careless, but having travelled in Chile many times we were lulled into false security and at 05:30 in the morning at the bus terminal, we felt victims to the oldest trick in the book. Apparently, the authorities do not want to publicise the fact or event combat it that Arica is at par with Vina del Mar in regards to organised thief but.

Be carful!

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
Level Contributor
11,615 posts
30 reviews
1. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

I am sorry for your unfortunate experience. I don't think I have ever answered a question about buses without a warning to be careful in bus stations, all bus stations. That warning is basically international too, but many tourists who use the bus system in South America have little or no experience of travelling by bus in their own country. I am not saying that is your situation but this is a good opportunity to bring it up to augment your warning.

If you watch a Chilean family travelling through a bus station you will see that they are very alert to everything around them. Granny is usually sitting on the bags. It only takes a few seconds for someone to separate you from your property and distraction is a favorite ploy. Just grabbing a bag isn't unknown.

The northern bus stations seem to be worse than some but all bus stations are places to be very cautious. Legally the police will concentrate on trouble spots but they must rely on police reports. Sadly most people are moving on to somewhere else and have little inclination to file a report. So a tourist passing through is a good target and bus stations are not as heavily policed as they might be. You can't complain about authorities not being willing to combat crimes which are never reported. Even if you reported yours, most people do not.

I hope you can get replacement documents soon and be able to continue your travels and that they are trouble free from now on..

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
6 posts
39 reviews
2. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

You are absolutely correct.

It's just that the majority of Chile is quite safe compared to the rest of Sth America and the reports of 3 different embassies backed it up that Arica is one of the hot-spots.

Mea culpa

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
Level Contributor
11,615 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

The thief is the guilty one here, not you. Something like this happens to most of us at some point if we like to travel. They used to call it the backpacker's baptism.

Hatch End, United...
Level Contributor
141 posts
27 reviews
4. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

This won't help you but it might alert someone else. Exactly the same type of theft occurred at Tacna in Peru, which is not far from Arica. What exactly is the technique used by the thieves so we all know what to look out for ?

Level Contributor
26 posts
5. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

A common technique is to spill something on you, often ice cream and then help you to clean it off.

Sunnyvale...
Level Contributor
7,088 posts
57 reviews
6. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

Which is why some Web sites recommend carrying lots of moist towelettes or paper towels in countries where that scam is common, so you can immediately push away anyone who tries to help and flee to a safe area to clean up.

The odd thing about this story is that the passports were in the bag rather than on the passport holders. When I am traveling internationally, the only time my passport is not on my body in a money belt under my clothes is when I am stateside, or I am in an airport (that is, the secure "sterile" area), aircraft, or hotel room, or I am swimming during my vacation and specifically selected a high-end hotel with safes in all rooms. At overseas airports, I look for restrooms after clearing customs and before checking in to return home, to put on and take off the money belt.

This way, for example, if someone were to try to grab my carry-on bag and run while I am walking into a hotel lobby to check in, I might be angry at the loss of two digital cameras and other belongings, but at least I would still have my passport.

Nova Scotia
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
Level Contributor
14,350 posts
173 reviews
7. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

Watch out at ferry terminals too. I distracted myself trying to make a phone call, and left my daypack a few feet away and did not keep my eyes on it. It was gone in a blink.

However because we always carry passports, money and cards on our persons we were able to carry on.

8. Re: Thiefs at Arica bus terminal

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