We (3 couples) flew out of La Romana airport on Monday, Feb. 12, and I’m sorry to report that the “distract and snatch” scam is still alive and well there.
Before we headed for the airport, I warned everyone to be vigilant at the airport and to watch out for 2 things in particular (based on the knowledge I gained on this site) - watch for them altering the weight of your luggage (e.g. resting their foot on the scale) and then charging for overweight; and watch for security guys distracting you and then helping themselves to your money from your bag.
We all weighed our luggage at the gym at the resort before we went. When we got to the airport the scales were not working properly and they couldn’t weigh any of the bags, so we had no problem with overweight luggage charges. Then it was time to go through the security check.
My husband and I went through first. They didn’t give his carry-on bag a second glance. They looked through mine but were very careful to keep their hands in clear view as they removed items, looked at them and then put them back into the bag. The second couple went through - once again they paid no attention to the man’s bag, but went through the lady’s bag, again keeping their hands in plain view.
Third couple - again, no attention at all to the man’s carry-on. Then they looked into the lady’s bag and found a bag of peppermints. This caused a commotion as the security guy held them up, asked what they were, called over a supervisor and handed the mints to him. Of course all eyes were on the supervisor as we tried to explain that they were just peppermints and that they could keep them if they were causing a problem. I happened to glance back at the original security guy and found that he had both of his hands deep in the lady’s carry-on bag. I walked over and very pointedly looked inside the bag - his hands came flying out and up over his head. After a moment he looked back in the bag and, very surprised, he reached in and removed her wallet. It is a tri-fold wallet with a snap closure. It was open, un-folded and there were 5 Canadian $20’s halfway out of the wallet!! “Oh, senora - you fix” and he handed the wallet to her. We were all stunned, and they hurried us though security after that. No action from the supervisor (no surprise).
I was very sorry that this happened, but very glad that I caught him in the act. It was this couple’s first visit to DR (our sixth visit) and it has totally turned them off ever returning - such a shame. Until that point we had all had a perfect vacation.
I am posting this as a reminder to always stay alert. It is a shame, but it is also a fact of life that things like this may happen in such a lovely country.
Do you think there is any point in reporting this incident to the Dominican Republic embassy, or anyone else?