I’ve traveled to Amsterdam a few times now and it’s always a fun trip. I stay in the Red Light District and spend my time going to museums and hanging out in the coffeeshops.
I try to go during the Holiday’s around New Year’s Eve.
One year, I was just walking around the Red Light District at night. The narrow streets were packed to capacity with tourists and people celebrating the holiday’s.
I had been walking in this crowd, taking in the sights. Then I decided to step out of the crowd, off to the side, up on a little curb area.
I was a head above the crowd. And man was it ever a sea of people, constantly walking by, in this crowd.
The people moved by as a group. It was such a crowd that they were all almost touching each other.
As I stood off to the side, watching the people go by, I noticed something.
On the other side of the street were these three black guys. They were off to the side, like me, watching the people pass by.
They looked suspicious, so I watched them for a while.
They were definitely scoping out the people as they passed. Then they’d lean over and talk to each other.
After a while, I got bored of this and moved on.
Later, I came walking by this same busy corner and I passed these same three guys.
I was dressed in a black, knee length wool coat. I had a black muffler and I was wearing black pants.
As I walked by, I happen to turn my head at just the right time to see one of the guys look over at his buddy as he was pointing at me.
I think I heard him say “Business man” to his friend.
So he thought I was a business man.
As I made my way through the crowd, I slyly checked behind me and he was following me.
I continued to walk down the street like nothing was going on. He continued to follow me.
We walked until the people had thinned out and it was just he and I walking down a dimly lit, narrow street in the Red Light District.
I suddenly stop, turn and pretend to be reading a menu of a restaurant that was closed.
It was time to call his bluff. He would either stab me in the back, confront me with a gun to rob me or continue on walking past me.
He continued walking.
After he passed me, I turned and started following him. The prey had become the predator.
He walked a bit further, then he turned on me.
We squared off in the middle of this narrow street and I stared him down.
He made a slight smile like “Okay, you got me. That was a good one”.
We rotated in the street, keeping our eyes on each other. It helped that I’m 6’2″ with my Harley Davidson boots on, so he had to look up to me because he was shorter than I.
After we had fully rotated, he turned and headed back to meet his buddies.
I let him walk for a while, then I walked back to the crowds too.
Later that night, I was walking down a different street when I saw these two guys tossing coins in the street.
It took me a second to figure it out. Can you?
One was older and the other was a young guy.
They were setting bait.
When someone would walk by, they’d see the coins and lean over to pick them up.
While they were leaning over, these guys would pick their pockets or reach into a woman’s purse and take her wallet.
I never saw them do this, but that was their modus operandi, for sure.
As I passed, these two began following me also.
I cut into a crowd and sped up my pace to where I got way ahead of them.
Then I turned to the right at the next intersection and stood off to the side, by the front door of a bar.
Sure enough, these two guys come walking by and don’t see me.
Just as they were almost past me, one turned and saw me.
They were committed to crossing the bridge over a canal in front of them, so they had to continue walking or else they look suspicious. So they crossed the bridge.
I laughed to myself.
I stood there, in front of that bar, people watching and forgot about the two scumbags.
I became so enthralled in ‘people watching’ that the two losers walked back across the bridge a short time later and they were looking straight at me.
I stepped off the step and disappeared into the night.
I swear on my life that this is a true story.
If you ever go to a tourist area with large crowds, do what I did. Step off to the side and see who else is scoping out the tourists as if they were prey.
I’m sure you’ll see these criminals sooner or later. Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Galveston are notorious for having pick pockets.
The crowds are so large and you’re jammed in there with people rubbing all up against you that it would be so easy to steal from you. Especially if you’re drunk and they’re not.
Heed my warning and you’ll never have to realize you’re screwed because you’ve lost your money, credit cards and ID’s. I have a female friend who had her purse stolen on a Paris subway, so watch out on Subways also.
I’m planning a trip back to Amsterdam to videotape these scoundrels in action with my hidden camera. I’ll do it one day and share it with the world.
Happy trails to you and yours.