motorcycle snatch thieves
When I left Senegal in 2013, a new phenomenon had just appeared - motorcycle snatch thieves. They weren't common, but were being talked about and I did hear indirectly of one victim. It was disappointing when I returned to be warned about this, as somehow I had hoped that it had just been something short-lived.
I'm still not sure how common it is, but I'd only been in the country two months whe I got first-hand experience of it. It was the middle of a Sunday afternoon, and I'd gone out to search for a couple of chairs I could buy for my balcony. I was walking along the main coastal road - not much used on a Sunday so very few people about - when a man who'd obviously run quietly up behind me grabbed my shoulder bag to run back behind me where he obviously hoped to jump on the back of a waiting motorcycle. However, I had managed to hold on to the shoulder strap so as he ran back along the road I ran (or was dragged) after him, pulling on the strap and screaming for help as loudly as I could. A couple of older men appeared from behind doorways, and I saw a taxi stopped up ahead, and suddenly my bac was released and the would-be thief and his accomplice had gone.
So I was unharmed, my bag still with me and still in one piece, and I suppose the whole experience had lasted less than ten seconds - but it was a bit of a shock. I suppose the adrenaline had kicked in (there was NO WAY they were going to get my bag, which had my keys, telephone and enough money in it to buy balcony furniture!), as I could hardly move my shoulders or arms for the next few days as the muscles recovered, even though I'd not felt physical discomfort at the time of the attack.
Colleagues told me that the road I'd been on is particularly vulnerable to such attack on quiet Sundays, and that there is always a spike in crime during the run-up to big festivals that people need money to finance (this was the week before the Korite festival marking the end of Ramadan).
I must say that it was a good experience in a way, awareness-raising without any negative consequences and I shall certainly be more alert in future.
To end on a good note - I found the chairs I was looking for, and here they are on the balcony!
Posted by Louise