Well folks - here they are - or rather here the aren't.
Unfortunately on day one of my latest trip to Java I was the victim of theft and my camera bag was stolen containing among other things my 5d mklll, 3 x canon L series zoom lenses, Macbook pro, new Fuji X100s, Iphone 5s, passport, cash etc etc etc. I am now going through a very painful process trying to recoup my losses from various insurance policies.
It all happened in the space of 5 minutes having got out of a vehicle to go to the bathroom - just a few hours into a long journey - I returned back to the locked vehicle and a window had been forced open and the window lock broken followed by a quick in and out to remove my my out of sight camera bag and my wife's carry on bag.. It just goes to show you can never be too sure when it comes to looking after your kit on overseas trips.
This is my first ever theft in over 30 years of travel - well actually that's not quite true...
There was the one occasion in Ulan Batar's black market in about 2000 when pick pockets managed to lift $20 from a buttoned down shirt breast pocket - they were good I have to give them that. I had purposefully put the cash away seemingly out of harms way knowing that the market was a notorious spot for thieving hands - if you had cash in your hand prying fingers would be grasping at your closed fist as you passed through the crowds. Walking down a line of stalls the crowds suddenly became very busy and confused - a few seconds later when the throng cleared I looked down and saw my pocket was open and the cash gone... Very quick and very good at their job - respect!!
On another occasion in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the mid '90's I was walking to a ferry to take me across to the beautiful old town of Colonia in Uruguay when a jogger stopped my to tell me I had what appeared to be bird crap on my shoulder and camera bag. Pointing to a nearby fountain he suggested I wash it off there. I nearly fell for the trick but realised that the so called bird crap was large enough to have come from a passing condor suffering from a severe dose of the runs - a quick test showed that it was nothing more than burger mustard. At that point everything clicked into place and challenging the jogger he then ran off realising he'd been rumbled.
Then there was the time in Capetown about 10 years ago - going to use an ATM outside a bank in the center of the city the machine didn't work and I was walking away. At that point a man in a suit came out of the bank and asked if I'd tried to use the ATM - I said yes but it wasn't working - he said it was it was just temperamental. I "assumed' stupidly he was from the bank - big mistake!! Few seconds later having tried my card again - his hand covered mine as I went to recover the card and very cleverly palmed the card up his sleeve. As a very poor magician myself (and I mean very poor!!) I saw what had happened, grab the guys wrist and throat simultaneously and retrieved my card. All this in broad daylight in the a busy city!
Then there was the time in Ecuador - a long time ago when I was a lot younger and more reckless. A little the worse for wear due to rum and coke and in the middle of the night I decided a night time skinny dip was in order. In the middle of an empty beach in total darkness I went for a swim leaving my clothes only a few feet away. Coming out of the water I met 2 guys standing over my clothes claiming to be police and telling me naked swimming was illegal and there was a fine to pay. I hastily chucked my clothes on and began to argue with them - I eventually ran off into the darkness leaving them behind. Thinking I done rather well I then went to meet friends in a bar and only then discovered $50 had been lifted from a pocket - it seems the 'fine' had already been paid!!
And then there was Yemen - held up by armed tribesmen on the coast.... but that's another story.
I guess the point of this is that wherever you are you need to be careful - not paranoid that everyone is out to get you, just careful. If you assume everyone is bad and has ulterior motives for approaching you or talking to you, then you will miss out on a huge number of opportunities and encounters. I have happily left my possessions with total strangers in the middle of nowhere but then at other times I keep things in my hands at all times. It feels bad to be a target of theft - it makes you feel stupid for sure, but sometimes it's just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, nothing more, nothing less. In Java we just happened to get out of a vehicle where someone waiting for just such an opportunity - a locked vehicle, tinted windows and being parked 30m from a security post are nothing compared to the riches that lie within when you see a pair of westerners get out of a vehicle.
Loss adjusters on Monday and fingers crossed!