Sunday, October 4, 2015

Well, it happened to me...

Sukhbaatar Statue
The warnings to beware of pickpockets are everywhere. From the U.S. Embassy page to most every guidebook you can find for Mongolia. When I met with the health department in Colorado Springs to get my vaccinations, they provided me with a Country Profile that also warned me about the high incidence of theft--going so far as to declare that public transportation should be avoided (which is not at all practical). 

Back in July, when I ventured out for the first time alone onto the sidewalks of UB, Enji messaged me with, "WATCH OUT FOR ROBBERS!" I can't say that did much to bolster my confidence being in my new home city, but it was advice well-meant and based in reality. Zorig repeatedly warns me to be careful of both thieves and machines (aka cars) every time I venture outside. 

Well, it happened to me this past week. I was pick-pocketed. Now, before you get worried--they got NOTHING of material value. I didn't feel it happen and was never scared or fearful. Quite frankly, it's a mystery as to when and how they did it.

I had stayed on in Zaisan (neighborhood where ASU is located and most of my co-workers live) to have some wine and food with my good friend Kantodeia (pictured here). I caught a bus around 7:30 pm which is after dark now. I know that it DID NOT happen on the bus, as I had a seat to myself and my backpack was on my lap the entire time with my hands resting on it. I have yet to feel exposed on the buses here, but perhaps in wintertime they get busy and more packed. We'll see. 

Anyway, when I got off the bus, I could see the Square all lit up ahead. It looked beautiful and I knew Z wasn't coming home from the I decided I'd walk over and enjoy the Square a little before walking home. There weren't many people out. I was wearing my headphones and listening to my iPod, as I often do. I crossed the necessary crosswalks, took pictures, and wandered around some. Upon heading home, I noticed the Central Post Office was yet open. I popped inside to mail a letter I had in my purse (which was buried in the main pocket of my backpack under a loaf of bread). 

When I took my backpack off, I could see that the smaller, most front pocket was wide open. My pen and pencil case was yet inside, but the small bag that I used to house my iPod and headphones (when not in use) was gone. This was a gift Zorig gave me when he first arrived to the U.S. back in December. It was a lovely little bag and I'm sad that it's gone, but more importantly, I'm glad that my money or Alien ID Card wasn't stolen. My safe-feeling-bubble has officially been burst. I will be more careful moving forward. Time to stop with the headphones and I look over my shoulder way more often. I didn't feel a thing--they were like sprites unzipping the pack and lifting what they probably thought was a wallet. However, the bag was empty and I was a most unsuccessful mark. Pickpocketing is not a violent crime and for that I am relieved. 

Lesson learned.


  1. My iPhone was stolen right out of my pocket. I didn't know it happened, but after I left the store (Mini, right by Merkury), something felt off. I felt in my pocket and my phone was gone. It was cracked and I was only a little bummed I had to get a new one.

    1. Yes, they are talented thieves it seems. Everyone I know that has lost something to a thief....had no idea it had been taken. I find this spooky!