Features: A Robber Strikes
Location: a tent! Ciroz Camping, Istanbul, Turkey
Distance so far: We've been travelling on trains and by foot.
GPS Co-ords: 37d, 42.321' N, 26D, 39.701'E
Dates: Tuesday 12th - Wednesday 13th December.
Highlights: One of Ali Baba's thieves strikes during the night but he's met his match.
On Tuesday evening the spotlight in the tent blew so we asked the Camp security where we could find another. His English was limited so he asked someone nearby who spoke English to help. The teenage boy offered to go into town and buy a bulb. Not knowing what they cost in Turkey we gave him the equivalent of £5 thinking this would be more than enough.
Suddenly he said that he had to visit a friend on the way and it would take him over an hour. Oh well, this is probably quicker than we could find a shop so we went along with it. In the meantime I rigged up our 12-volt lamp to a transformer so we could see.
Sure enough an hour later the boy returned huffing and puffing with the spotlight bulb. Sue went out to see him and came back in with a confused look. The boy was claiming that Western electronic goods in Turkey were very expensive and this was Philips which was probably the most expensive. He was carrying a receipt for the equivalent of £10. We scrutinised it for time, date, amount and type of shop - it all seemed legitimate, but £10 for a spotlight bulb? I know energy saver bulbs can cost this. We paid him with the intention of visiting the shop the next day.
It took a little while to find but when we did I strolled in and asked the price of the same bulb - 35p!!!!! I marched out to Sue, grabbed the old bulb and receipt and all three of us marched back in to confront them. No one spoke English, but the receipt and bulb spoke for themselves. There was some uneasy shuffling and the owner obviously wanted to know what his assistants had been up to. An English speaker was found from a neighbouring shop and we were told to find the boy whom they seemed to know and bring him in.
The rip-off had been thwarted and we were hot on the trail of the perpetrator.
Back at the campsite we explained to the head security guard what had happened, he knew exactly who it was. Off we marched, apparently both stepfather and son had a reputation. He tried to wriggle out of it by saying that he was going to the shop to sort it out, but Sue confronted him giving him a serious dressing down. He was suitably chastised and sent off to get our money back.
It transpired that one of the security guards had seen him leave the back entrance and return a short time later with a load of shopping. Sue thought that he was either high or drunk when he returned - anyway something didn't add up.
Our friendly security guard that was practising his English told us that the boy was only 15, although he looked 18. He did not get on with his stepfather and had been sent to live with his aunt in America. An opportunity few people in Turkey get let alone a young boy. Anyway he had stabbed someone and been sent back to Turkey. He was due to go back to America on the 18th December to attend school.
He returned a few hours later with only £5. Sue was making a point and wanted the full amount TODAY. He offered her his mobile phone, which she refused, he promptly dropped it on the ground and walked away. Sue left it where it was and called after him for the balance. It was not until about 6 pm that he returned with a collection of change. We called it quits giving him the equivalent of a pound for going to get the bulb for us and made him promise not to rip people off in the future. Lets hope he takes heed.