The incidence of theft or fraud has dramatically shot up in Zimbabwe. It has become a common feature of new bulletins and publications to include cases of theft or fraud. Apart from the apparently high levels of unemployment, the pandemic can also be blamed for this trend. Incidents do come in all shapes and sizes but in this article, I will just dwell on theft in central business districts. The tricks I will discuss are common or find their root in Harare but they are or can be practised in any Zimbabwean CBD.
Either someone will drop money on purpose and point you to it or someone will do that and someone points you to it. The person will then say let us share the money since we all saw it. You will then be taken to a secluded area for a supposed sharing of the money. They will put the money into say, a piece of socks. One of them will be the first to supposedly go secretly count the money. (They will come back and say maybe it is US$500). Your turn will come to do the same but you will be requested to leave behind all your belongings e.g. phone, wallet, and so on. This will be based on the reason that it will stop you from running away with the money. However, the piece of socks you will be given will not be carrying actual money but just some pieces of paper. When you go to count you will realize that and upon returning to the other guys they will be long gone with your belongings.
Piece Job Prospects
A random person will approach you and say that there is say, a 30-minute piece job somewhere close by. They might say it is worth US$20 of which will be a good deal given a short time. You will then proceed with the person to the supposed place the piece job is. When you get to the place you will be asked to surrender all your belongings into an envelope before starting. You will be asked to sign your envelope but it is when it is handed back to you when there will be a swap with a different envelope. In essence, you will be given an envelope with maybe some pieces of paper and a tile piece to make it seem like your phone.
One of them will ask you to wait a bit whilst they go collect work suits. The one who approached you will stay behind with you – yet they will be aware of what is going on. The one gone to collect work suits will actually be gone for good. The one who approached you will wait a bit and eventually say they are in a hurry so they cannot wait anymore. After a while, you will lose patience and open your envelope only to realize all your stuff is gone.
This usually comes in 3 common forms. The first one involves someone stepping or bumping into you by mistake and they start apologizing. The second one entails someone making it appear as if you have bumped into them or stepped on them. They will start scolding you and getting into your personal space. The third one involves someone coming to you and greeting you passionately, even hugging you, as if they know. In the confusion of you trying to figure out who they are they will be busy stealing stuff from you. All 3 scenarios are meant at distracting you so that they steal from you.
This is typically done by people who would have possibly picked lost police IDs. Some might be fake police who would have stolen police uniforms. They will look for something to accuse of and say you have been arrested. You will comply given that you will really assume it is the police. They will then take you to some secluded area where they will forcibly take everything on you.
Commotion At PSV Pickup Points
Someone or some people will create commotion at such pick-pup points. The whole idea will be to cause everyone to be distracted whilst they will be stealing anything they can get their hands on.
Women commonly use this trick. They enter a shop and some of them will engage every shop attendant by supposedly asking for prices and what nought. As they are all doing that the others will be busy stealing stuff and putting it between their legs since they will be wearing very long skirts. Some of them might be strapping babies on their backs and will use that to conceal stuff they would have stolen.
Push Cart Touts
People coming off buses with heavy luggage will usually look for pushcart touts to carry their stuff. These touts will move so fast that they will outpace you. When you will try to catch up they will be long gone with your stuff.
Shady Love Relationships
A guy will approach a lady in town and ask them out. If she accepts then the guy will start building a relationship with the lady. At around 2 weeks or so of dating, the guy will take the lady out for lunch say, at Chicken Slice. During the lunch date, the guy will say their phone is out of power and ask to use the lady’s. The lady will oblige and the guy will excuse themselves to make the call – they will never return.
These are just some of the common tricks used by thieves in CBDs. They might sound too apparent to miss but trust me; many people have fallen prey to these tricks. I usually tell people, ‘be more aware’. Plus remember if something is too good to be true it most probably is. You must cultivate the habit of being observant and analytical in everything you do. Do kindly share these with others so that we save people from such shenanigans.