I’ve Been Robbed…Twice!!!

Nicaragua, León, police, robbery, expat

What a couple of days I’ve had. I have been robbed twice. I felt like a jackass. I have never been robbed at home nor on any travel experience. It happened once in my hotel room and then the house I had recently purchased, was broken into. Luckily there wasn’t any damage done at the house except for the smashed padlock on the front door, the door was going to be replaced soon anyway.

I was staying at a hotel in León. I had been staying there over a month. They had offered me a monthly rate that was cheaper than the apartment I was renting and I had use of the kitchen. The place was nice but I still got a weird vibe from this place. It is pleasant, and centrally located, but it need management. The hotel was often fairly vacant being the rainy season and all, which I have to admit, I enjoyed. I had the run of the place, kitchen privileges, and the wi-fi didn’t get bogged down.

Everywhere I’ve stay in the past, I had been cautious, not to the point of being paranoid, but cautious. I have this habit of taking a photos with my phone of the room and especially focus on my backpack. I kept a small amount of money and my passport in my bag. I don’t like carrying everything with me. This habit of taking photos finally came in handy, unfortunately.

On this particular day I was completely alone except for the cleaning lady who also doubled as the cook and front desk receptionist. I told her when I first moved that I didn’t want my room cleaned unless I was present. Before I left to take a look at the progress at the house, I made sure to take photos of my backpack, the floor fan, and the room. I had a bottle of B-12 pills posed and intricately weaved my computer charging cord around the top of the dirty laundry container lid.

Nicaragua, León, police, robbery, expat

My bag before…

I was gone for less than 30 minutes. Like I said, I was the only one in the hotel except for the cleaning lady who was sitting at the front desk and gave me a big smile and greeting when I came back. She had always been pleasant and very accommodating. When I got back to my room, I knew why she was smiling. The first thing I noticed was that my bottle of B-12s was turned the opposite way with the label facing in instead of up the way I left it and the top of the bottle was facing the other way.  The floor fan was also moved.

Nicaragua, León, police, robbery, expat

My bag after…

I instantly counted an envelope of money that I had in a side pocket, it was all there. She had still been in my room. I was furious. My heart was racing and I felt nauseous. I was rehearsing what I was going to say to her in Spanish, in my head.

I asked her why she was in my room. I asked why she was in my backpack. She swore up and down that she hadn’t. I knew she was lying. She swore to God and mom and her kids. I asked her, who else was here? Is there anyone else staying here? I got a resounding “No” to both. Then who else could have been in my room? She started to cry. I was shaking. I was impressed by how good my Spanish got in a time of stress. It would have been embarrassing to cuss someone out in a foreign language and then screw it up. I finally showed her the pictures of before and after, she still denied any involvement. I asked her again, it is just you and me here right? “Yes”, she responded.

I called my lawyer to see if could help, he was furious. I was as well, but I wasn’t that surprised, honestly. Why else would I be taking photos of my backpack? I had another stash of money hidden elsewhere in my pack, I had just gone to the bank to get money to pay some bills on the house, but I thought that there is no way that she could have found that. It was buried and hidden deep inside a pair of pants pocket. I counted it. It was $200 short. Now I was really mad. My lawyer advised me to call the police. I thought, what the hell are the cops going to do?

He left to go get an officer. I went to the kitchen to wash a plate. It was covered in bugs because I had left some mango rinds on it. When I came out of the kitchen, the lady had left.

When she came back she said that she went to buy minutes for her phone because, she couldn’t get in contact with the owner. I know that that was bullshit. It was illegal for her to leave the scene. Besides, she was the only one here, what if someone came to rent a room or the phone rang?

The first sergeant left, after two investigators showed up. I was thoroughly impressed with the way the officers conducted themselves. They took this matter very seriously, and did everything that I would have expected a police officer to do in the States. They questioned her, they questioned me, they questioned the people on the street and at the places she said she went to buy minutes for her phone. I thought that the cops would have blown the case off because I was just some dumb gringo. Actually, the opposite happened.

Nicaragua, León, police, robbery, expat

This is how I used to see the police…Not anymore.

We had made contact with the owner who said he was on his way. Before he showed up, his daughter got there. She was a lawyer and seemed smug and confident. By the time the officers finished explaining what had happened, showed her the pictures, and the “nonexistent” extra key that I found in vase on the first floor, she had changed her attitude. These cops meant business.

I had been snooping around, just in case she had stashed the money on site. I checked in drawers and in the bushes and every other place I could think of. I eventually found a key in one of the vases that was on display outside the banquet room. I showed my lawyer and he went to get the officer from the other room. By that time, the overnight worker had shown up. The officer questioned him first about an extra set of keys. The guy, said that they didn’t keep extra keys. The officer showed him the key that I had found and asked him to take the key and try all the doors of the other rooms. It didn’t fit, until he got to my room. Busted!!!

To my disappointment, my lawyer explained to me that pressing charges would be a waste of time because I didn’t actually see her take the money and that it would just cost me extra money in court costs. I hesitantly opted to not. The owner said that would cover $100 of the missing money and he fired the lady on the spot. She was crying as she gathered her things, but not once did she look at me to say anything. Not “I didn’t do it,” or anything like that. That’s when I knew, that any doubts I may have had, were false. This bitch stole my money.

The next day the house was broken into over night as well. I showed up at the house the following morning at 7:00 to talk to the Engineer who was already there. Someone had smashed the padlock lock open and stole some of power tools and an extension cord. He said calling the cops would be a waste of time, that he would get the equipment he needed from another job site. When he realized that more stuff was stolen than he initially thought, he called the cops. When the police showed up, I was surprised to see the same investigator from the hotel was there. At this point I didn’t know if I had been targeted or if this was just bad luck or a coincidence.

Whoever took his tools also took a big shit in the front room. The Engineer said that often thieves shit on site to fuck with the police dogs, to throw them off the scent. I’ve never seen any police dogs outside the airport but apparently this was a thing.

Everyone involved knew that the cleaning lady had taken the money. They also knew that there wasn’t much that could be done. I have heard many stories of petty theft. I thought I was lucky. I thought that I must been doing things right. Now, I felt like an idiot for not having locked my bag that day. I felt like a moron for not going to pay that bill that afternoon. I felt like an ass for getting too comfortable and letting my guard down. Live and learn.

Viva León, Jodido!

 

2 Comments on “I’ve Been Robbed…Twice!!!

  1. We were robbed twice living in Nicaragua. First time it was electronics. Second time it was our German Shepard when he was a puppy. We got our dog back by putting up lost signs and making a lot of noise about it around town. Now that same dog, three years later keeps us safe every night. He’s huge and nobody wants to mess with our house. I’m really sorry for what happened to you; it takes awhile to get over the feelings of pure fury. Your work site is probably going to need a cuidador overnight. Thieves will come in and start pulling out hardware and electrical wiring.

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  2. The whole situation is just frustrating. As far as Nicaraguan cities go, I feel that León is relatively safe.
    The building engineer has someone on site 24 hours a day. That one day was a last minute emergency, and at the time there wasn’t much to take except for his tools.

    Like

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