Crime victims in BA

My sister and I have traveled the world extensively for the past 25 years, including to several third-world countries, and have not personally encountered the same degree of crime as we did in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a week’s visit starting July 3, 2009.

My sister had her wallet stolen in the Modena Café, which is situated behind the National Museum of Fine Arts. It was taken from a purse on a chair while we were taking a quick photo of a nearby wall decoration.

In the time it took us to return to our hotel to call the credit card company, half an hour, the thief attempted to charge $4,000 at a Louis Vuitton store.

In Argentinian peso transactions, I was passed counterfeit 100-peso (near $26) bills. I learned this when, a couple of days into our visit, I asked at the hotel’s front desk for smaller denominations for a few of my 100-peso notes and was told they were fake. I had six of them.

Cabbies tried scams on us in three separate instances. One cabbie tried stopping a block from our hotel, saying the street in which our hotel was located was blocked. He proceeded to accuse us of giving him a bogus 10-peso bill; I believe his intention was to force us to produce more bills in order to, using sleight of hand, exchange the new bills for fake ones.

We stayed at the Buenos Aires Sofitel. Security was prevalent and highly visible inside and out front. Guests needed the room card to operate the elevators.

Travelers should be very careful when visiting Buenos Aires. There must be a happy medium between being paranoid and cavalier when traveling.

Bethesda, MD