It is mentioned in guide books that there is petty crime in Montevideo.

The young woman in a next door boutique, who speaks English and tells me about Montevideo when I have my expresso, is standing and talking to motorcycle cops as I come out my apartment door onto the street. There are three cops and two motorcycles and one of the officers is sitting on concrete steps leading into the boutique, writing his report.

I go around the corner and enter the back door of the shop, order a coffee in the cafe part of the business. When my friend comes back inside she tells me the whole story, from beginning to end.

“We had a shoplifter,” she says, “the same one who did it before. We called the police and they took her away. She was putting things in her dress.”

“How do you say the past tense of steal,” she asks me?

“The past tense is stolen, someone has stolen our stuff,” I reply.

“We call to steal in Spanish – Roblar.”

“Like the English robber.”

“Exactamente,” she smiles.

Petty crime sticks with us. This petty thief will spend a few nights in jail but won’t learn any lesson except not to get caught.

It is clear that she, a two time loser in this shop, isn’t  good at stealing.

if there wasn’t crime, we wouldn’t need cops.and crime isn’t going away any time soon.

No one likes a thief even if rationalizations for stealing tug at your heart.


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