Saturday, March 09, 2013

Thieving tourists

This may be a controversial theory, but it appears that always before and around Easter the number of thefts from small shops increases dramatically. The shops here on La Gomera are reporting this phenomenon once again this year. While at other times of the year theft is relatively rare, the pre-Easter Lent period seems to be less connected with fasting, but more with stealing.
La Gomera is almost crime-free and shopkeepers here are very trusting, which makes the experience of theft committed by cheerful tourists even more painful.
Most boutiques and souvenir shops are fighting for survival in these times of increasing overheads and reduced turnover due to the financial crisis and need to make a small profit to survive the much quieter off season periods. But the thieving has started again to reduce the small margins even further. Even our tiny 'super'markets are affected.
Now one shopkeeper has appealed on 'Facebook' to the culprits, telling them that the small shops here were all established with much love and hard work and that most are fighting for survival. There's a warning for all shops included in the posting.
Another experience that shopkeepers make around Easter is that tourists seem to do 'unauthorised swaps', that is they leave an old or worn item in the shop and take a new, more valuable item with them without paying.
Even shops that have surveillance cameras (mostly because the insurance company insists) report the same, as the thefts are well executed and happen when the shops are relatively full and the cameras are blocked by customers. It is also becoming clear that the thieving tourists are 'not the poorest' and sometimes one of them buys a small item while talking a lot, as a distraction - showing a wallet stuffed with large banknotes and
credit cards ! They also appear to be well educated, very polite and friendly.
This detrimental Easter phenomenon is not unique to the Canaries, but it also appears to happen around the same period of time in shops in the West of Ireland every year. Kleptomania ? Thrill-seeking ? Revenge on capitalism ? Why Easter ? Any explanation ?

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