A commuter warned the public of a revived modus operandi in Metro Manila buses where a passenger would be smeared with ketchup while somebody else would steal his valuables.
Facebook user Krizza Hannah Dolor shared her experience as she rode JAC Liner en route to Pasay, specifically to its terminal near LRT1-Gil Puyat Station.
The incident happened in the morning of July 9, Tuesday.
Dolor wrote that a man who was behind her smeared ketchup on her hair and then asked, “Miss, ano ‘yang nasa buhok mo, may sakit ka ba?”
She touched her hair and immediately recognized the substance but refused to acknowledge the man.
Another man beside her attempted to “distract” her while the first man continued to talk.
Dolor realized she was holding her cellphone that time, to which a different man—who was also beside her—kept looking at it “attentively” whenever she would wipe off ketchup on her hair.
She placed her cellphone in her bag and retrieved her alcohol for “self-defense” purposes.
The move proved to be wise since she noticed that the three men appeared to give each other signals or gestures.
“I saw them na nag-se-senyasan. ‘Di ko na sila pinansin afterwards until sa bus stop sa may LRT Buendia. Bumaba din sila, and thankfully madaming tao, ‘di na nila ko sinundan. Tatlo silang decent-looking guys, may bags na mukha lang din papasok sa work,” Dolor wrote on Facebook.
“Guys, if something happens like this, be attentive. Safety first, don’t let them (catch) you off guard, and once you get off, go to a secure place and double-check your valuables and report immediately if something was stolen,” she continued.
Dolor took a photo of the handkerchief she used to wipe off the ketchup from her hair as proof of the incident.
She also reminded her fellow commuters—especially those taking the bus in the area of Manila and Makati—to be vigilant of suspicious characters on their daily travels.
It was not the first time that such a modus was experienced by a bus rider.
In 2015, a certain commuter recounted how she was also smeared with ketchup by a “decent man” while on a bus to Ayala.
She ignored the man and refused to open her bag, believing it was their modus to distract the victim while they steal his or her valuables.
Apparently, she has read Facebook posts of people who’ve had similar experiences before.
“Don’t open your bag because this is a modus of snatchers using either ketchup or spit to get you off guard and then steal your valuables. Better clean it off once you get to a secure and less crowded area rather than have your things stolen,” she wrote on Facebook.
The Philippine National Police acknowledged that such a modus is considered an “organized crime” since suspects would plan how to execute the activity with the goal to rob the victim of his valuables when he is distracted.
They would either use their own spit or liquid substances like ketchup to keep the victim’s attention away from his belongings while someone else would steal his valuables.
“Bago naman sila talagang magnakaw, pinag-iisipan nilang maigi. Pinaplano nila kung ano ang gagawin nila. Duduraan ka ng isa sa kanila para ma-distract ka o siguro baka para magalit ka. ‘Yong atensiyon mo, wala na sa gamit mo,” PNP deputy spokesperson Police Lt. Col. Kimberly Molitas shared.
She suggested that commuters should always keep their valuables intact and out of sight from the public, especially in extremely crowded buses, trains and other means of transportation.
Molitas also reminded Filipinos to be vigilant and observant of their surroundings to prevent being victimized by such characters.