Important info about Montevideo
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Jul 18, 2012 8:58 AM Last Post By: chaz32968
Jul 4, 2012 9:43 PM
Important info about MontevideoI am writing to tell of my experience in Montevideo. On the 5th of June 2012 my girlfriend and I were having dinner in the heart of the city just four blocks from Plaza Independencia. We exited the restaurant at 10PM and entered our rental vehicle parked right outside. Immediately a man open the rear door of our vehicle and grabbed my back pack I had just placed in the rear seat. I chased after the man about four blocks until he ran up the stairwell of a building with a metal gate in front. I thought better of following him up the stairwell so I went back to the street where I could see him in a forth floor apartment. I yelled at him but he just looked at me. There were 10-20 people on the corner waiting for a bus and no one came to my aid. I pleaded with them to call the police but no one would. After ten minutes of screaming in the street eventually a police officer arrived. I pointed at the apartment and the thief then threw my back pack out of the window to me down on the street. Unfortunately for me, he removed my possessions. $4500 US dollars, an apple i pad, 2 pair of sunglasses and most importantly, my girlfriend's Guatemalan passport. The police officer told me to wait because he was going to get more police officers to help. We waited for over an hour until finally about six officers arrived. They all kissed each other and chatted festively and after about ten minutes of talking to each other they told me we would have to wait until tomorrow to do anything. I was finally reunited with my girlfriend after 1.5 hours of her not knowing if I was dead or alive. The next day the police told us they could do nothing.
After speaking with some locals in the area, we have found out this is not an isolated incident. This building, without power, is a hospice for indigents and thieves and is well known by the local residents. The police are fully aware of the situation and are in cahoots with the thieves. It is a level of police corruption I could not believe. Uruguay has been portrayed as a very progressive country with an honest government in place. I will do my best now to dispel this.
Jul 4, 2012 10:40 PM
Jul 5, 2012 12:48 PM
2This post looks like a troll. First comment from a new user, and it doesn't make sense at all. Ciudad Vieja and Centro are the two areas where every single person in town tell you to be careful at night (from your receptionist, fellow travellers, locals, etc.)
Your story is confusing, how on earth you put your backpack in the car and somebody opens the rear door and grabs it? what were you doing, you didn't notice somebody right by your side? if you were entering the car in that exact moment, well congratulations to the thug, he's very skilled and deserves your belongings as prize :)
Even if it was a true story, you should be thanking Uruguay to be a country of kind and harmless thieves. You were not hurt, and he even returned your empty backpack. If in real life somebody robs you, do never run after them, they always work in gangs!
And as a final note, If this really happened, learn from it! Don't carry valuables at night, do not leave them unattended or apart from you, look around for suspicious people, do not carry your passport in bags ready to be lost or grabbed, etc, you know, common sense!
PS, police corruption can happen even in rich countries. But at least in Uruguay police does not beat people for racial reasons like in certain countries (remember Rodney King?)
Jul 5, 2012 5:46 PM
3I respectfully disagree: I think this post is genuine. I've seen thieves who specialize in taking luggage out of cars, and they're quick. My own backpack was once grabbed out of the back seat of a taxi (open front window because I was hot=easily unlocked back door), but fortunately we were so close to another car in traffic that my pack wouldn't fit through. The thief was gone before I had a chance to react. I've talked to plenty of others who've had stuff lifted through open windows, also while stuck in traffic. This happens in cities throughout the world.
The lessons are always the same--something about the transitory nature of all ownership, and the need to keep the real valuables well-secured to your body, not lying around loose even for a minute. Personally, I don't carry around $4500 dollars cash either, but I know that others do.
Jul 5, 2012 6:44 PM
Jul 15, 2012 12:53 PM
5Savvytravelador: Welcome to Lonely Planet's Thorntree. Now you see why they call it "Thorn" tree. Make one mistake and there are people out there who evidently have nothing better to do than pounce their fellow travelers who make a mistake. As I have said before this forum is for people to share their experiences, misfortunes and mistakes included. We just returned from Montevideo and Punta del Diablo three weeks ago and had a great time. Still I have no cause to doubt the truth of your story. Thank you for your post and I will certainly avoid that area at night in the future. Other travelers should take heed as well.
True, I would not personally carry so much cash with me. There are many ATMs around; why take the chance? It is pretty commonly said that you should only take what cash you need for each outting. Further, I always carry my passport in a large wallet that is difficult even for me to remove from my front pocket. The wallet is chained to my belt. Still, no one should feel they have the right to give you a hard time for it. We all carry around passports which, we learned from our friend -- born and raised in Montevideo, can sell on the black market for about U$ 4,000. I also carry a laptop which is priceless to me now that I have so many photos and personal data (encripted) on it. And who doesn't carry a digital camera?
I hope you will not give up on Latin America or on Thorntree. What happened to you is rare but costly. It's a bit like flying in an airplane. The chances of a mishap are practically negligible but the price of a malfunction can be steep indeed. I hope Guatemala has an embassy in Montevideo. My wife lost her US passport in the mountains near Bogota, Colombia. It only took about 10 days to get a new one and only cost about U$ 200. We learned our lesson the hard way too!
Keep us informed about the progress of your trip. Happy trails and DON'T LET THE JERKS GET YOU DOWN!
Edited by: chaz32968
Edited by: chaz32968
Edited by: chaz32968
Jul 16, 2012 2:43 PM
6chaz... Don't be so simpleton! and don't judge our opinions. The guy was a troll, he just wanted us to lose our time writing sympathy messages. He just wrote one message and has not come back to check the replies, or possible solutions we would come up with.
The trolls for some reason want to create negative impressions and stereotyps over a certain place, just the same way your wrote that nonsense of buying a us passport in the black market for 4,000, jajaja you make me laugh, that's the most ridiculous thing I've heard this week! Who would even attempt to use it, or adultering it. You're so simple minded jajajajajaja
Jul 16, 2012 4:30 PM
7Okay Southy. Thank you for your substantive comments. I give up; maybe I'm naive. Enlighten me. Why would someone make up such a story? Sympathy(?) from strangers on line? Why not return to read their sympathetic comments?? Please define "troll" for me. Meanwhile, I'll Google it.
Secondly, why would our personal friend, who makes an excellent living doing computer audits of banks all over the world to see if they meet World Bank standards, make up a story about the black market value of a US passport? Since she travels frequently between Montevideo and Washington, D.C. on business and has a fair grasp of the value of things, chances are she a bit more up on that than most people. Don't you think so?
Finally -- let me guess -- you are the Minister of Foreign Tourism in Uruguay. Or maybe a tour operator.
Jul 16, 2012 6:22 PM
8There's no way somebody can take someone's passport and adulterate it with another picture. I arrived to New Zealand and they caught a lady with a fake passport, the local police was warned by the airline, and the reason they let her board the plane was to put her in prison upon arrival to NZ, and hopefully get the details of how she got that fake passport. Let alone the US Immigration would not identify a fake passport!
chaz, educate yourself before posting silly comments! I bet you think the whole world is eager to get your passport to heaven! jajajajajfajjajaajjajajajajajajajaja
just in case you forgot to google about what a TROLL is...
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted."
Jul 16, 2012 10:02 PM
9It used to be said that the black market value of a genuine US passport was higher than the lifetime earnings of the average resident of (insert favorite poor country here, e.g., Bolivia, Guatemala, Nepal, Ethiopia, Mali, Chad). Whether literally true or not, this had the appearance of truth because photos could indeed be substituted.
Modern passports include microchips with not only photos but other embedded security features which are apparently counterfeit-proof. No one would change out the photo in such a document and expect to enter the US with it. However, as I understand it they can still be used to enter countries which do not routinely use chip readers. There are a great many places which don't use these scanners, including smaller border crossings in South America and elsewhere.
I assume this means that US passports still have some black market value, but it must be minimal given I've known people who've had their possessions stolen by thieves who immediately discarded their passports in rubbish heaps, from which they were recovered.
Caveat: the information above should be considered potentially unreliable and uninformed, if not wholly factually false.
Jul 18, 2012 8:58 AM
10Thanks for the all the information. The bit about passports was a bit off subject but usefull non-the-less with a little of my own research. You can't beleive everything even your friends tell you.
As for the trolls: It's hard for me to grasp that someone would post such nonsense but I've heard of worse things. So I guess anything is possible.
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