Petty Crimes


Stunned, Nelson looked at his side mirror. He saw this guy rolling on the ground. He was so sure he didn’t see him anywhere near his car. So, he could not imagine how he could have hit him. He stepped on the brake. The guy ran towards his car, picked up a stone in the center island of the road and threatened to break his windshield. 

Showing his bruises, the guy angrily demanded money. He claimed that he only went out to buy medicine for his sick child. Due to the “accident,” the bottle fell to the ground and broke. He insisted that Nelson pay P850 for it. To avoid further arguments, Nelson coughed out P600. 

When his wife shared the encounter with a friend, she told her that oddly she heard that story before. Her friend then sent her a Facebook link about another driver who had the same traumatic experience. This time she secretly took a photo of the alleged “victim.” Nelson and his wife were shocked to see that it was the same guy! [Nelson told the story personally to me. His experience recently happened along Taft Avenue near Luneta Park in the City of Manila.] Apparently, this guy had been setting up people with that modus operandi since 2007. 

The "you-hit-me-you-pay-me" guy. Image source: Facebook

Rudolph Giuliani dealt with such petty crimes head on when he started out as mayor of New York. At that time, crime statistics soared high and stayed high. In his book, “Leadership,” Guiliani wrote, 
The goal was to turn around the view people had of New York as a dangerous place. … We attacked crime immediately, but knew that it would take time to show results. … If crime went down but the existing amount of pushing and shoving, urinating on the streets, and other quality-of-life issues remained the same, we would never have a convincing case that life was better. We had to get people to be safe and to feel safe. [1]
Guiliani decided to deal first with “the squeegee man problem.” [We also have that problem here. (See the YouTube video below.) I usually encounter them in Quirino Avenue corner South Luzon Expressway and in Sta. Mesa near SM Centerpoint. Both locations are in Manila.]

Sadly, they were active in bridges and tunnels of New York. Guiliani lamented, “It was one of the first and last impressions of New York for anyone visiting the city—hardly an image that inspired confidence.” [2] What’s surprising was that people thought the squeegee men numbered around “a couple of thousand” but it turned out later that “there were only about 180 squeegee men in the whole city.” [3] When he cracked the whip, Giuliani also “[ended] up reducing crime by some 5,000 felonies per week”. [4] Talk about a multiplying effect!

A street kid sniffing solvent. Image source: Vimeo
Here in Metro Manila, other than the “you-hit-me-you-pay-up” guy and the squeegee men, we also have solvent boys or street children along EDSA who also double as thieves. Such petty crimes are not so petty after all when we consider the negative impact it has not only in the metropolis but also in the entire country as well. (Nelson’s encounter happened near a busy tourist spot!) If these “quality-of-life issues” persist, we can kiss our “It’s more fun in the Philippines” tourist slogan adieu.

My take? Like what Guiliani said, “We have to get people to be safe and to feel safe.”

[1] Rudolph Guiliani, Leadership (NY: Hyperion, 2002), 41. Emphasis his.

[2] Ibid, 42.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 43.


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