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As someone who regularly takes public transportation, I have had the displeasure of encountering several bizarre approaches to crime in buses, jeepneys or cabs. Apparently, people have decided that just declaring a robbery straight up isn’t the Filipino way, so we have a whole bunch of strange, alternative methods by which these criminals can liberate you of your wallets and gadgets.
I don’t think I need to point out that if you are under threat, no matter how much you protect yourself, putting up a fight would only increase your risk of getting icepicked. If it comes to that, just give them what they want. Here are 8 different methods they use that are off the beaten path of the standard robbery...
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-8.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]8. Activan Gang[/text_image]
The MO: A cab driver befriends a foreigner or balikbayan on the long drive to their destination, then offers their target a drink. When they fall for this, they then pass out from something in the drink, and when they come to, they are divested of their possessions. They also sometimes pull this same stunt in hotels and other similar places.
Protect Yourself: Don’t accept drinks from strangers. That should be common sense, but sometimes, because of a sense of pakikisama, we overlook this little fact--and pay dearly for it.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-7.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]7. Zesto Gang[/text_image]
The MO: Often plying the Cubao area, members of the Zesto gang pose as a bus conductor and ask their mark “Ilan?” The target assumes they meant tickets, tells him how many, pays the impostor, and then the Zesto gang member magically produces Zesto juices from behind him, rapidly hits them with straws (how they do that when it takes us mere mortals minutes to stick a straw in from the top of the Doypack, I will never understand), then hands them to the mildly bewildered victims. More often than not, no change will be provided, and you can’t ask for a refund since he already oh-so-helpfully put the straw in for you, which is pretty unsanitary, when you think about it.
Protect Yourself: Always make sure first that this is really the conductor you’re about to hand your money off to. If you see a bucket with juice packs behind him, that’s a dead giveaway he’s part of the Zesto gang.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-6.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]6. Laglag Barya Gang[/text_image]
The MO: This happened to me back when the Nokia 3330 was relatively new (so, y’know, it was a long time ago). I was in a jeepney in Cubao (what is it with this place?), being youthfully stupid (now, I’m no longer youthful) and oblivious to my surroundings when a man in front of me dropped a coin near my foot. He then proceeded to reach for it, and I even helped him. He dropped it again. This time, he grabbed my foot, as if to imply that it fell in my shoe. I struggled with him, and next thing I knew, my pants pocket was sliced open and my phone was gone. The man immediately got off the jeep, along with two other people who were seated near me.
Protect Yourself: If they can slice your jean pocket open, they can slice you open. I would suggest immediately getting off jeep or bus the minute someone tries to drop a coin within a two-meter radius.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-5.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]5. Dura-Dura Gang[/text_image]
The MO: One of the most disgusting methods to pilfer people’s belongings, the Dura-Dura Gang operates by distracting you with spit or even vomit on your shoulder, which a “helpful” co-passenger points out to you. They then “helpfully” suggest you open your bag to look for something to clean off the spit with, and while you do that, with your bag left open, they quickly grab whatever valuables they can and then get off the bus or jeep.
Protect Yourself: Keep your bag closed, and have tissue at the ready in a valuables-free pocket for this very occasion. I would also suggest yelling "para" and leaving the moment this happens to you.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-4.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]4. Bimpo sa Aircon[/text_image]
The MO: I’m still not entirely sure how this works, but supposedly, while in a cab, the taxi driver will hold something up to his air conditioner that will knock the passenger out, leaving you at the driver’s mercy, akin to the Ativan Gang. How this works without knocking out the driver as well, I am not quite sure, but if you see that they’re wearing a face mask, then don’t even bother getting in, I guess.
Protect Yourself: Always have a friend you can text your cab’s plate number to. The ideal approach is to have a friend see you off in a cab, so the cabbie knows someone got a good look at him without really calling attention to the fact, as opposed to taking a picture of the cabbie, who might be offended if he wasn’t actually trying to rob you or something.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-3.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]3. Biglang Sakay[/text_image]
The MO: This very terrifying MO happened to a friend of mine, who was just in a taxi when three other people boarded it and threatened her. Needless to say, when it suddenly becomes a four on one situation inside a taxi, there is very little you can do other than to give them what they want.
Protect Yourself: The same standard safety procedures apply: document the cabs you ride in, lock all your doors, and bolt at the first sign of suspicious activity. Don’t bother with politeness when it’s your life on the line. If you have to ask them to stop and you just toss the money for fare at them then make a run for it, just do it. This also means you need to check the cab's child locks before boarding the taxi.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-2.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]2. Batang Hamog[/text_image]
The MO: These are often kids along C5 or EDSA-Guadalupe who attack during rush hour. Since cars are stuck in traffic, they will randomly open cab doors, usually from both sides, then quickly steal anything they can from the passenger in as little time as possible. This also almost happened to me, but thankfully, I was quick enough to pull my bag to my side then kick the kid off before shutting the door.
Protect Yourself: Obviously, lock your doors. Ever since that near-miss, I always made sure to do just that whenever I would take a cab. Make it a habit.
[text_image img="http://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/modus-operandi-photos-1.jpg" width="100%" type="subheading"]1. Pasagasa Gang[/text_image]
The MO: In the middle of the night, a pedestrian will appear out of nowhere then get run over, or at least pretend to be run over, by your most likely slow-moving taxi. If the taxi driver stops, the “pedestrian” will use this opportunity to pry open the cab and rob you. They normally have accomplices to pull this off, or will threaten to throw a rock at the cab. If all else fails, they will try to extort money from you under threat of being reported for hit and run. This obviously is not limited to public transportation, and private vehicles are actually even more lucrative targets.
Protect Yourself: Don’t give them an opportunity to reach in and grab you, so don’t open windows or doors, even if you feel concerned for their well-being. Call 117 instead for help if you have to. It’s very tricky when these things happen, but again, when it’s your life on the line, don’t take any unnecessary chances.
Stay safe, follow these tips from the Philippine National Police:
- Always consider doubts/gut feel when riding a taxi.
Always check the taxi first and make sure no one is hiding on the floor or between the seats.
- Sit on the backseat and keep a distance from the driver.
- Check if the doors can be locked from the inside.
- Memorize the plate number and name of the driver. You can text or call a friend or relative and let the driver know that you are taking note of his plate number.
- Insist that the driver use the regular or usual route you take towards your destination.
- Report any defective plate or meter and driver's discourtesy to the
Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB):
0921-448-777 and 426-2515.
(The LTFRB can alert other commuters of any new modus operandi of drivers after receiving reports from some victims.)
How to detect "batingting" taxis
- Tampered or missing meter seal.
- Meter only displays fare and not the distance and waiting time (if present).
- Taxi name, plate number and operator contact number are erased or missing in the interiors of the vehicle.
- Driver is clicking a switch hidden somewhere.
- Driver would not usually argue/complain if you pay the usual fare since they know they’re equipped with a faster-than-a-speeding bullet meter.
What to do if confronted with such a situation?
- Always take note of the taxi name, operator phone numbers, plate number and if possible, take note of the taxi driver’s name and face. It is recommended that you send these information to a friend or relative.
- Ask the driver to use the meter. If they say that the meter isn’t working or offer any other excuse, don’t get in the cab. If you’re already inside, ask the driver to stop and get out of the vehicle.
- Make sure to check the meter. Some “batingting” drivers intentionally hold the stick shift in order to block the meter’s line of view.
- Some drivers tend to keep a minimum speed even when in high-speed areas. This is because the moment they get too fast, the increments will happen at an incredible rate and the meter will show that it is obviously tampered.
- If any time you notice that the meter is going too fast, tell the driver to stop and get off the taxi.
- Report the taxi with defective meter to the
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board
by texting the taxi’s name and plate number to
0921-448-7777 or call 426-2515.
Do you have commuting horror stories, too? Warn other readers about them in the Comments Section.