09 July 2012

The Safety Dance

Living in Philadelphia and having been robbed once before, I know the basics of being cautious in the big city. Don't dangle my handbag around my wrist and don't hang it on the back of my chair at the bar. Keep tabs on my phone, wallet, and anything else someone might want so bad that they could just take it from me. It has become second nature now that I know this city and I know when and where I might need to be a little more aware of my stuff and my surroundings. But moving to a foreign city where crime is just as prevalent is forcing me to look a little deeper into theft prevention tactics.

Travel websites insist on money belts. These unattractive, bulky velcro waist lassos keep money, cards, and maybe one key under the pants. Hm. I see the value in keeping things out of view, but a fanny pack under my pants? A belt under my dress? It would be really cute to order a drink at a bar and then have to reach down my pants to pay for it. Do I go to the bathroom and retrieve my money every time I want to pay for something? Must I nearly undress to unlock my front door? And should there be a tried and true thief lurking about, won't my secret stash become pretty obvious pretty quickly??

Other options include hidden pockets I could attach to my bra (just as awkward, ¿no?), my thigh, my ankle, pretty much any bodily protrusion. Funny thing about this is not only will it be weird and obvious when I need to take my money out of the thing, but there's no hiding the fact that a primarily English speaking white girl walking around without a handbag, eating, drinking, purchasing trinkets from the street markets, etc. must be wearing one of these silly devices! Thieves are smart.

If I were visiting Buenos Aires for two weeks or less in the winter, wearing bulky clothes and with plans to galavant through tourist hot spots and the designer shopping district, then maybe I'd consider wearing one of these "safety" devices. But that's not the case. If I'm going to live in Buenos Aires and am looking to immerse myself in the porteƱo lifestyle, locking myself up in a cage of fear and secrecy won't help!

The most practical advice I've come across so far is...Use Common Sense! Confidence and normalcy do the work of making a new comer look like a local, making a target less obvious, and making holding onto your stuff a lot easier. After all this investigation into preventing a mugging, it makes more sense to play it cool (read: wear a cross-body handbag, keep money out of back pockets, don't be flashy), then to prep tourist style and over think the whole thing. Though, this thing is kinda cool...

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