Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Avoiding El Bujiazo--the spark plug crime

Avoiding El Bujiazo, or 'Why to spend your first night in Lima at a hotel with its own airport shuttle and skilled, street-savvy drivers.'

After spending two weeks in the Amazon jungle, I was thinking only of a hot shower when we landed in Lima. The driver from our hotel met us inside the airport. He held a sign displaying the name of our group leader. Like the rest of the staff at our hotel, he was a professional, distinguished looking gentleman of fifty or so dressed in a suit. He greeted us warmly then escorted the group to a new shuttle van in the parking lot outside the Lima airport. After stacking the luggage in the back of the van, and getting everyone seated we left the airport for the hotel.

We were about five minutes away from the airport when the driver noticed that two of the women in our group held their hand bags in their lap. He got very excited and said, "On floor! Purse and backpack on floor!"  The women quickly stuffed their purses under their feet, and we drove the rest of the way to the hotel in silence. All the way there I wondered what upset this competent, distinguished man. What was he worried about? Why was everyone telling me "purses and backpacks on the floor or in the trunk!"

When I got home, I went online to find out why the driver got so excited. The crime is called El Bujiazo. A thief runs up to a car when it is stopped or moving slowly in traffic. He strikes a window sharply with a spark plug, shattering the safety glass. He reaches inside to grab a purse, then runs away and disappears into the city.

There are a dozen YouTube videos of the crime online. One popular short video was taken from inside the car as the window shatters.

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