Ecuador: Cautionary tale of professional thieves targeting passengers on interprovincial buses

Posted on August 31, 2017 • Filed under: Crime, Ecuador, Ecuador Emergency, Ecuador Travel

Despite all the security measures that have been put in place, travel on inter-provincial or long haul buses have security risks. Awareness is mandatory at all times including while getting on or off of a bus.

The following story is an unedited version of a recent experience of an expat in Ecuador taking a trip from Quito to Otavalo.


Hello Everyone- I needed to write of our experience on the Quito-Otavalo bus on our way to see the market tomorrow. We boarded the bus in Quito at the Northern bus station at about 9:15 AM, two tickets, $5.40 for the two-hour ride. We boarded, and found seats about two-thirds back, as the front third was filling up. We set our day-packs on our laps. IMMEDIATELY, we were set upon by three (or four) men. The first one was wearing a black jacket with some kind of emblem on it. I assumed, (as I was supposed to) that he was a bus official. He grabbed my pack violently, and yelled that I needed to put it in the upper storage area. I refused. He then tried to shove it under my seat, still being very aggressive and loud. At that point we noticed another man sitting suddenly in the seat behind us. I put the pack under my seat, still assuming that he was an official. He tried to grab my partner’s pack, and she would not let him. He and a third man slowly backed up the aisle towards the front of the bus, and stood there, watching us. My partner gave them both a dirty look, whereupon they turned away from us, and got off the bus.The man in the black coat immediately removed the coat, and they walked away, leaving us with the man behind us. We got up and quickly moved up several rows to be surrounded by people. A minute later the third man also left the bus, but spoke to a woman, who moved in behind us. We kept our packs on our laps, and she got off three stops later.

(One response as to who and how the group operates)
They were an organized crew whose specialty is stealing suitcases from buses. They get on at the terminal and some don’t even ride the bus. They pretend to be helping someone else get into the bus. That person’s job is to make off with your stuff a few km into the ride. The people who “helped” them are following the bus in a car, waiting for their accomplice to get off with full hands. If you ever see someone get on a long distance bus at the beginning of the trip and then get out a few minutes later, that person is more likely than not, a thief. If you are traveling a short distance, there are local (blue) buses to take you for $0.25
(Source: Social Media – name of victim removed)


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