Last night my phone was stolen, I'm fairly certain it was pickpocketed. My friend who I was with had his phone stolen as well. This is the second time I've had a phone stolen and in the past I've lost three bikes due to the same reason. And a lot of my friends are in the same position having had 3 or 4 bikes stolen, besides other things. Petty theft is RAMPANT in this city. I wonder whether it's the same in other Chinese cities. Please, newcomers, be really careful about your valuable stuff because it will disappear very easily!
I've also had a bike ripped off. Additionally caught someone going through my bag, with, I believe, the intent to steal. Fortunately I was able to react to that one and lost nothing. I definitely second the warning though.
Perhaps the thousands of idle security guards I see every day could do something? Or maybe its impossible to prevent I dont know.
A PSB officer was making rounds yesterday, warning small shop owners to be extra careful with laptops, cell phones and wallets. He said the number of theives are on the rise, as his department has already caught 56 this year. In fact, just yesterday someone walked off with a shop owner's laptop in broad daylight at 2pm.
I confronted two pick-pockets at a bus stop last year. I made a big fuss, shouting and pointing, and they eventually sauntered off. None of the surrounding 50+ Chinese did a thing. My Chinese friends all told me I was foolish to do what I did. The next week I was back at the bus stop and saw them again. This time I did nothing, but they saw me and approached me, threatening me with a knifing action and then spitting in my face. I lunged at them and they ran off. I believe that most pick pockets are cowards, but I'm no hero and I'm not about to go back to that bus stop at night again. Life's too short. I just wish some undercover police could occasionally hang around the busy bus stops in the evening and catch a few of these [email protected]@holes. Deterrence is the way for this type of organised crime.
Undercover cops do hang round bus stops. There was a feature on K6TV a couple of weeks ago.
Thieving is pretty much the same in every city I have been to. I can only see it getting worse as the poverty gap, and accompanying sense of entitlement of the youth, increases. Another reason for increases, is that laptops, iPods, iPads, smart phones etc. are high value items that are easy to sell on as everyone wants one (there was even a kid who sold a kidney for an iPad in China a while back), and gadgets are easily portable.
I have been offered a stolen stolen laptop for 1000, that is as much as many unskilled workers earn in a month here.
To be honest, if I had no income, and there was no safety net (family or welfare state), I would not starve, nor would my family. Do you steal a loaf of bread or the shopkeepers laptop and buy bread ciggs and booze for a month? Now how can I create a distraction.
Phones, and laptops, even wallets, can be tethered. Bikes and laptops, lock 'em or lose 'em.
I have taken to calling them obscurity guards, anyone actually seen one catch a criminal? There is a group of theives who come through Da Shang Hui in the south all the time. Despite the whole area being "protected" by obscurity guards, who I see either sleeping or sitting around on chairs smoking. They steal motorbikes and bicycles, seemingly right under the nose of obscurity.
Chinese people's "only me and my own" attitude is partly to blame for the pick pockets existing to such a high degree. To be honest, I would probably chase a pick pocket too, but its very hazardous to your health to do so. They work in large organised groups, mafia style, so getting on their bad side or drawing attention to them probably isn't in your best interests, particularly as a laowai when you are readily recognisable. Really, the loss of a bike or phone probably isn't worth your life or ending up with a debilitating injury. Just keep aware at all times, park in bike parks where you have to pay (the bike parking attendants are liable for any losses if ya bike gets nicked) and grin and bear it.
I think lock 'em AND lose 'em is the case - locks don't make much of a difference. Although having said that, if you observe some basic rules you will have no problem. For example, if you only park your bike in guarded parking lots it will be safe. And never take your expensive phone with you when you go to Kundu and get blind drunk like I did last night. Ok, theives are everywhere but fortunately violent crime is much lower than, for example, London. I'd rather have my bike stolen than be mugged at knifepoint.
Totally agree with you Blobbles.
Although my experience in China has been overwhelmingly positive, the one thing that gets me down sometimes is this "only me and my own" attitude. It seems people here really don't give a shit about each other UNLESS they are familiar (in which case they care a lot). Why is it that when someone crashes into someone else onto the street, the only solution for them is to scream at each other. Why does no-one hold the elevator for you? Small courtesies do not exist among strangers here.
I also agree that it's best not to confront people if you might be putting yourself in danger; my policy here is to keep my head down and avoid unnecessary trouble.
Regarding the parking attendants - I very much doubt they would re-emburse the full value of your bike, especially for a foreigner with limited Chinese. 100 kuai and a "get lost" is the most you could expect, in my opinion.
As someone else said a few days ago. Lock it too something, like a tree or lampost. Don't put a crap lock on a good bike, get a proper motorcycle lock. If you have a cheap pedal ebike, take the battery when you go to the office.
Basically if the bike next to yours can be stolen faster, with less chance of being caught...
Wire loop locks for laptops, I am surprised that most people don't bother. Short ones (1m) are too fiddly and won't get used. 2m is a bit long, but easy to use. Again, why get a crap one, for 200rmb you can get a good one. The waitress or coffee shop owner won't stop anyone stealing your laptop, but will stop them stealing the table it is attached to.
Bags slung over the back of a chair are an easy item for a grab and run. You can use a carabiner looped through straps and the chair to stop the chance grab. And put the bag on the chair next to you under the table out of sight.
Wear things next to your body, not in the pockets of outer garments.
Wear shoulder bags under your jacket. This stops little fingers from getting into the bag, and stops bag snatching.
Use your peripheral vision. Glance over your shoulder, must of us do this due to cyclists on the sidewalk anyway. Try to be aware if someone seems to be walking a little close behind you, and turned onto your path, or matched your pace. It is easy to stop and let then walk by, which they will. If you think they are a thief, try to make eye contact with them. Don't comment or threaten, but they will know they have been clocked and will move on.
You will never stop a determined thief, but if you can make it hard enough they will usually look for a softer target.
Agree with the comment about violent crime being rare here. Prolific in some parts of EU now.