Commuting in Metro Manila can be a frightful experience. Not only do we have to contend with the horrendous traffic, we also have to be constantly on alert for thieves that employ all manner of tricks and scams to deprive us of our valuables. One of my friends was victimized by one such scam. She shared her awful experience on social media to warn others to be extra vigilant against this Modus Operandi (MO).
Here it is below:
A little heads-up: Beware of the Sabunot Gang. Nakaupo ako sa aisle ng bus cruising along EDSA Balintawak nang maramdaman ko na may humihila ng buhok ko. As a commuter, sanay ka na doon pag may bumababa. Etong sabunot na ito, medyo matindi, na tipong mahahawakan mo yung kamay sa likod. Pero yun ang gusto nilang gawin mo. They want you to get your hands busy prying your hair free from their grip so you’re not holding your bag. And then another man in front of the guy reached out his hand to touch my hair saying sorry. Syempre galit na ako at sinabing, “Wag mo hawakan ang buhok ko!” Tapos biglang nanglamig ako sa pagiging weird ng pangyayari nung maisip ko na yung cellphone ko nasa bag baka kinuha. Ayun pagdukot ko wala na. It seems there was another man involved to fish my phone out of my bag. The guy who tried to touch my hair, to cover my face, and disorient me or cover from other passengers, looked like a normal guy. Hindi nanglilimahid or masama itsura. They know their stuff. Modus na pala talaga sya. I didn’t know until last night. Next time, akapin na lang natin bag natin pag ganun.
According to my friend, it happened along Edsa, Balintawak. She was on a bus, seated along the aisle when she felt someone pulling her hair with force. Another man reached out to her to touch her hair, apologizing. She angrily told him not to touch her hair. It was then that she felt that something was more than off. She checked her bag for her phone to find out that it was gone. Apparently, the MO of these guys is to distract you so you will remove your grip on your bag: one guy will pull your hair, another will apologize while touching your hair, as the third one will fish your valuable from your bag as soon as you remove your grip on it.
She said that the guy who tried to touch her hair and face looked like an ordinary, regular person. They really know their stuff, she observed. My friend searched online for similar instances and found these:
Apparently, it had been going on for quite some time. This post was from 2014.
Do you know of other scams victimizing commuters? How do we protect ourselves and our valuables while we commute?