Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting your pocket picked

I think just about everyone I know warned me about pickpockets in (insert city here) in Europe. From Barcelona to Prague, it seems that most people know of someone that was a victim in some European city.

After 20 months in Europe, 14 countries and many, many, many finally happened to us.

We were sitting at a cluster of tables at Port Vell in Barcelona having a few glasses of beer. I had my purse on my lap and Chuck put his backpack on his chair (which was located in the dead center of the group). Of the 6 tables, all were filled with English-speaking folks and there were probably about 30 people sitting there.

Enter, the Barcelona police. Three cops on motocycles/mopeds ride up and say in Spanish, "Did anyone lose a backpack?" Hmmm, huh? What? I translate to Chuck, "They want to know if anyone lost a backpack." He turns around and his backpack is gone.

Chuck: "Uh, yeah, hey that's my backpack"

Cop 1: "Do you have a passport"

Chuck: "Yes, it's in my pocket. Here you go."

Neighboring tables: "We didn't see anything, what happened"

Cop 1: "Do you want to press charges and fill out a police report"

Chuck: "No, that's ok."

Cop 1: (reaching into backpack, looking at contents, and pulls out a book...says to Cop 2 in Spanish) "Hey, listen to this....Harmonic...blah, blah, blah"

Cop 2: Laughs and laughs some more

Little did the would-be thief know that Chuck's backpack would contain conference papers for the EPE (engineering) conference, a pad of paper, pencil...and his boss's PhD thesis...which is what Cop 1 pulled out of the backpack. Oh, I forgot to add that Cop 1 said the equivalent of 'nerd' in Spanish to Cop 2. Editorial, my husband is not a nerd; just a very intelligent engineer. Yes, I know...that equals nerd.

So, yes, Chuck was the victim of a pickpocket. But, we were quite thrilled with how the Barcelona police officers were quick to return the backpack.

I'm sure the little thief was faced with 'some serious hurt' or tell the cops where to return the backpack.

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