Man was robbed of more than wallet

Steve Bartlett sbartlett@thetelegram.com
Published on March 5, 2016
George Street at night. Several people in downtown St. John’s who spoke to The Telegram Wednesday evening said people should take precautions when out late in the area, such as being accompanied by friends. — Telegram file photo

“Ping!”

It’s late November and the distinctive, loud push notification coming from his phone wakes Robert.

It pinged because someone had used his credit card. At 1:50 a.m.

Simultaneously, the 60-something grandfather felt an intense, throbbing pain.

He touched the back of his head and felt blood. He’d been clobbered, it seemed. And hard.

He also realized he was in a bed at his sister-in-law’s house.

Robert (not his real name) was in agony, feeling pain and confusion and the urge to roll himself into a ball.

Who was using his card?

What happened to the back of his noggin?

How’d he get to his sister-in-law’s?

Robert still doesn’t have any real answers. Just more questions.

He sits on a barstool at Starbucks and scans the room as he tells his story. He doesn’t seem nervous, just wary. Not knowing will do that to you.

The night in question started off pretty normal.

Robert drank some beer at his sister-in-law’s before heading to George Street to watch his nephew’s band. He had a couple more beer there and remembers walking out of the bar alone around 12:30 a.m.

And that’s where his memory ends.

The next 100 minutes or so are missing.

Was he attacked? By whom?

Had he been drugged?

Who stole his wallet?

And, again, who brought him to his sister-in-law’s?

Robert says his wallet contained credit cards, $700 or so in gift certificates and some blank cheques.

About $240 was put on his credit card and a cheque was written for $2,500.

He thought the CCTV cameras on George Street would have some answers about what happened.

But police told him there is no sign of him leaving the bar or even being on George Street that night.

Robert has counted 21 cameras in that area and wonders how there could be no trace.

An extensive review of the footage was done, a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary spokesman told me, and there is no sign of him.

The officer offered a couple of possible reasons why — Robert might have been just shy of a camera angle, travelling with a crowd, or his recall of the exact time could be off.

The spokesman said two people have since been charged with using Robert’s credit card as well as fraud and failure to comply with conditions. There is no evidence they were involved in an assault. (Robert said late Friday he didn’t know charges had been laid.)

Robert’s wounds have healed and the bank refunded the $2,500 from the cheque.

No one can refund his biggest loss, though.

“My sense of security is gone,” he says.

And that’s a maddening part of his story — the theft of personal security.

It seems too much of that is being stolen these days.

Be careful downtown, Robert urges.

People shouldn’t have to be so vigilant, but they do.

A night out should be carefree and fun.

It shouldn’t result in a rip-off, a head injury and months of wondering.

 

Steve Bartlett is the managing editor of The Telegram. Reach him via email at sbartlett@thetelegram.com.