A Lucky Escape

An unpleasant incident happened today but, fortunately, I had a very lucky escape.

In the afternoon, we did one of the Copenhagen walking tours suggested by the guidebook. The tour finished with a visit to one of Denmark's most famous landmarks - the Little Mermaid. By the time we got to the bus stop, it was about 7:30 pm. When I was checking the route number of the bus to take, guidebook in hand, a Middle Eastern looking young guy who was with three other friends approached me and asked: "Can I help you?" I told him where we wanted to go and he told me what bus to take, after which he put up his hand and made the friendly gesture of giving me a high-five. Out of politeness, I obliged. He grabbed my hand and pulled me close to him and, in a split second, I felt that my wallet had slipped out of my pocket. Next thing I knew, he was running away with it, and his friends also dispersed in different directions. I made a frantic chase and shouted. I had no idea how many people were around, but at least I saw that there were a group of four or five people in their fifties or sixties in the bus stop before the incident happened. Anyway, after chasing the guy for about fifty metres, he dropped my wallet. I stopped the chase, picked up the wallet and checked the content. Much to my relief, everything was there. As I walked back to the bus stop to join my stunned wife, the group of middle-aged people came forward and showed their concern. One asked whether I would like to report to the police and volunteered to be a witness. Another said that Denmark is usually a very safe country and she was sorry that something like that would happen to tourists like us.

It was later in the evening, when the dust had settled, that I began to realise the graveness of the matter and how incredibly lucky I was. While it was not exactly a case of robbery, it was not merely one of theft either. There was physical contact and the guy did it in broad daylight (twilight, to be more precise). It was obviously a seasoned and organised gang, judging by how they had identified this dumb tourist with a bulging pocket as eay prey, how quickly and easily my wallet was pinched, and how the other gang members had blocked my wife to prevent her from seeing what happened and reacting.

I was enormously lucky that the wallet was dropped eventually. I don't think the guy dropped it by accident. Maybe he relented under the pressure of my chase and shouting. Maybe he reckoned that he would be in trouble with the law should he be caught and should others in the vicinity join the chase. Dropping the chase should most likely stop the chase, and in the actual case it did. But what if he had kept on, outrun me and made off with the wallet? What if, instead of just dropping the wallet, he had thrown it to the other gang members who were farther from me, leaving me as the sole and helpless member of the opposing team in that impromptu "baseball game"? My trip would have been turned into a messy nightmare. Such thoughts were quite chilling.

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