How it works:
- A scammer first squirts a substance resembling bird droppings or mustard onto your clothing without you realizing.
- Next, accomplices point it out to you and attempt to help you clean up with tissues.
- As they rub the substance off your clothes, they will steal anything they can find.
- They can also try to distract you so another accomplice can steal your unattended bag.
- Once they disappear and you realize that your valuables are stolen, a third accomplice will point you in a different direction from where the thieves have escaped to.
Places to beware:
- Santiago: Cerro Santa Lucia, Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana), Plaza de Armas, San Francisco Church,Central Market (Mercado Central), Vegetable Market, Parque Forestal, main transportation hubs, on the routes to the airport
What to do:
- React: push away anyone who tries to get close, quickly move to a safe spot and while doing so, check that your valuables are still intact.
- Passport: carry a photocopy instead of the actual one.
- Valuables: wallet in front pocket, small valuables in a money belt/hidden pouch, large valuables in an anti-theft bag.
- Travel insurance: get a good one that covers theft (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – review).