Stop Thief, Stop!

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historical center of quito
historical center of quito (View on flickr)

We had a funny experience yesterday on the way home from a fine afternoon wandering around the old city of Quito. We were on the excellent and cheap, but crowded, trolleybus. Whenever you're in a crowded bus anywhere in the world, especially standing, you need to take care of your possessions, and we were keeping a close eye out. Nancy spotted a young fellow in a brown baseball cap eyeing her as she put her camera away in her bag, and kept an eye on him. In fact, she was giving him the evil eye and he was also making eye contact in return. They understood each other completely.

As we stood there he snaked his way through the crowd, moving closer and closer to us and Nancy thought he was evaluating me as well. About the time Nancy was reiterating her warning to me to watch my pockets, we heard a lady call out "Thief - there's a thief here." Then another woman yelled "The one in the brown cap!" And the first one said "He's after the tourist lady!" (Nancy).

Then came the incredible part. Somebody yelled again, "The one with the brown cap". And they all started beating him with umbrellas and fists and forcing him to the front of the bus. The bus driver asked what was going on and stopped the bus and delivered the apparent theif right into the hands of a waiting policeman.

It was quite amazing. Nothing happened at all. We didn't get robbed or even come close, and I don't think he would have been successful with us. But to see all those people taking care of us (and brutalizing the accused thief) was pretty impressive.