I was Pickpocketed in a 04L Jeepney last Saturday

Last August 31, 2013 (Sat), around 10AM-ish, I decided to visit my hearing aid specialist for some adjustments. So, I took a 04L multicab. The illustration below is what the passenger seating looked like. It’s not entirely correct (I have terrible memory), but it should give you an idea.


Upon getting in, I wanted to sit beside B (the seat was vacant), but he cautioned me to sit elsewhere. The look and the gesture on his face told me there was something wrong with the seat to his left. I couldn’t see anything strange, but I decided to sit at A. I stared at B (he was wearing a sunglass) and looked closely to the empty seat beside him while squinting my eyes. I saw spit on the backrest. That must be why he wanted to move, but a lady sat on it a little later, and he cautioned her about the spit.

As the jeep neared towards the overpass in Salinas Drive (going to IT Park), D, wearing a white shirt and a gold watch on his left hand, told me, “Isulod na sa bag imong cellphone. Maraming magnanakaw doon.” ([In Bisaya] Put your cellphone in your bag. [In Tagalog] There are many snatchers there.)” I found his statement weird. First, he spoke in Bisaya, then suddenly changed to Tagalog. It was clear to me that he was not a local. Second, this was a road I crossed far too many times I can count. I walked this road. I ran this road. I biked this road. I ate in nearly all sidewalk carenderias (sort of like a caferia), and have even gotten a 30-peso haircut in a nearby barbershop. In short, I knew this road, day and night. So, why would he tell me about snatchers in this area?

Against my better judgement, I decided put my phone in my messenger bag. Nearing Cebu I.T. Park, D decides to pay a 20-peso bill to the jeepney conductor, who was near the entrance. B hands over the loose change to C, and manages to drop a coin or two. I decided to move my feet so he could see the coin. He picks it up, and gives it to D. However, he decides to go down again moving his hands forcely towards my feet, as if trying to retrieve more coins. It took too long. So at this point, I knew this was a laglag barya (drop coin) modus operandi. So I held my bag closely. Then, I looked towards E, who was trying to talk to me. “Gikuha imong cellphone” ([In Bisaya] Your cellphone was taken). So, I opened my bag, and found my cellphone gone.

Then, C goes out of the jeepney. I asked around who took my cellphone, and the people (including B and D) pointed to C (in red polo shirt and green bag). So I told the jeepney driver to stop. As I went out, I also told the jeepney conductor (an acquaintance) not to let the jeepney go. I approach C and asked him if he took my phone. He didn’t say anything. Confused, I looked back at the jeep, trying put the puzzle together. Then much later, somebody approaches me with my cellphone; it must have been one of the bystanders who was observing the commotion. And oh, the useless security guard from the under-construction Filinvest Cebu Cyberzone did not bother to mediate. I don’t blame him; it’s not his job, but the fact he didn’t call for police makes him useless. With my cellphone in hand, I let C go, while shouting loudly that he was a thief. Then, a habal-habal (a public motorcycle transportation) driver approaches me to get on his motor so we can look for a police nearby.

As C heads for The Walk, the driver finds two policemen near a restaurant. I hop into the police car, and we go around The Walk, but don’t see any trace of C. We drive towards the main road, but still don’t see C. So, I tell the police to just give it up, since the thief could have already taken a jeepney. They ask if I wanted to report it to the police station. I said no, since I couldn’t remember what they looked like (I have a terrible memory). So they just write down my name, so they could report it to the station. I get out of the car, still shocked by what just happened.

In the end, I’m glad I’m safe and was able to get back my phone, but I still defeated for not getting B, C, and D caught and jailed. I don’t know where the cellphone came from, but I assume witnesses inside the jeep confronted D,  made him give it up, and had the bystander give it to me. As the laglag barya happened, I wished I had a Google Glass (or a hidden camera) right there and then. I could have taken a snapshot of those pickpockets, and shown them to the police. I could have used my cellphone, but that could have been inappropriate (and I was busy holding on to my bag).

To E, whoever you are, THANK YOU! from the bottom of my heart. Please drop me a note; I would like to treat you to lunch or dinner, or at least thank you in person. Or if you were one of the passengers on that jeep, please let me know whatever happened to B and D.

To the rest of you, may this serve as a warning that laglag barya is back. Be wary of people who wear sunglasses inside jeepneys and act strange. As for cellphones, I think it wouldn’t have mattered if you took it out or not, although it would reduce the chances of being pickpocketed if they hadn’t seen it. In your hand, you’d have more control with your phone, and you’d know right away if somebody tried to snatch it. I think the front pocket of a polo is the best place to keep it. But, a pickpocket will always pick something. If he couldn’t get your phone, he’d still reach for your pocket or your bag. So, your best protection will be vigilance.


20 Responses to I was Pickpocketed in a 04L Jeepney last Saturday

  1. absolute0 says:

    It’s just too bad B, C and D are still on the loose but glad to know you got your phone back.

  2. Harvey says:

    laglag barya kaayo. pero with a twist, it will get you thinking nga si C ang ni kuha pero di diay.

  3. KKK says:

    I actually saw this happen to a person in the jeep… I never thought this is a widely used technique. D was actually the one who took your cellphone while C was trying to get the coins down.

    • gchang says:

      Karaang style na gyud ning laglag barya. Sauna ma paranoid ko kung naay matagak nga sinsilyo. Mao na kinahanglan abtik gyud ta, kay usahay lisud pagkahibalo kung dautan ba gyud to ang pagtagak, or natagak lang gyud. Usahay ako mismo makatagak man pud kog sinsilyo inig pasa2x. Hopefully, wa ra ko ma-a-an ug pickpocket. Hehe.

  4. Rem says:

    Hi.. a friend of mine witnessed the same thing while nag sakay me og 01K… kabantay lang sya sa ila gi buhat..the same rajud ila style sud sa jeep as per my friend told us.. Og the same pod nag shades.. naa pa gani na sila headphones para ingnun naminaw ra silag music…lmao..maila nga dayu og dili na sila lumad nga taga sugbo..kay infairness SUPER BAGA ra jud na sila og face..lol

  5. Melchor Cabanas says:

    It’s a good thing you got your cellphone. But don’t ever go down to get your phone when they place they went is a thieves den. You might come out dripping with blood. Anyhow, not that you asked but let me share my experience with pick pockets too.

    I almost became a victim of pickpockets once. This time it was on a 13C jeepney. However, these pickpocket made a mistake that really busted them on my part. Their type of distraction was too quirky. One of them just shouted and point to one passenger wherein everyone when to look at that passenger.

    That is when they started their M.O. it was not dropping coins but it was putting a bag on the lap while person D on your illustration will try to keep pushing person C towards me. At that time person C will hide his hands on his bag and slowly try to eject whatever it is in your pocket synchronizing it with person D’s movement.

    However, I always put lots of things in my pocket so I noticed what they were doing. I placed my hand on my bag where I have lots of screw drivers for fixing computers. I look at him doing what he was doing while trying to get not my cellphone but just a five peso coin and put it in my polo pocket. He was trying to get my cellphone but I never took it out just to provoke him. I stared at him still holding the biggest screw driver in my bag. Then suddenly, they just went down in Eskina Paradise because they were busted big time.

    • gchang says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Melchor. I’m glad you were able to sense what they were doing, and scared the shit out of them. You should have stabbed his hand with the screwdriver, man! Haha. 🙂

  6. thebeachbabe says:

    Sayang wa sila madakpi but may nalang nakuha nimo ang phone ug balik!

  7. i remember this i think.. did this happen neat Tonyo’s?? cuase i remember there was a comotion during that day when my jeep passed by. someone wearing purple korean something basta white ang guy na ako marember.. then a guy ni ditso lang lakaw padung IT..

    • gchang says:

      Yep, this happened across Tonyo’s. I’m not Korean, and I can’t remember what color I wore that day but I was definitely wearing short sleeves polo with a pocket in front. One of the gang members was wearing a white polo shirt. The one who walked towards The Walk wore red.

  8. dru says:

    That’s an awesome story to share to help warn others about this modus operandi again. I don’t think they’re “back” though, I think they’ve been there all along, but just never caught.

  9. mike says:

    I had my share of this on a 13C jeepney. I was from gym and my gym bag is big. was going home that time. i noticed I was sandwiched by two guys wearing sunglasses. i don’t have anything valuable in my gym bag. i felt his hand moving inside my bag. wtf! i moved my bag and saw the zipper was open. i cursed and stared at him, i know he can see me thru those dark glasses. i stared at him like i was staring at some porn. they got off in paradise too. there were 2 of them one got off somewhere in the fruiitstand going to aboitiz and the other by cfg paradise. all i could wish was i had my butterfly knife or even my brass knuckles with me. i would have landed him in the hospital. and since im a fratman, it wouldnt be hard to get them swarmed. especially in paradise

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