Mind Your Monkeys
We escorted a group of Russian business men on a meeting / vacation trip to Bali. We had our local people scout the hotel and the resorts areas. Runs were made to and from the airport as well as checking for other means of travel such as ferries and a private helicopter.
When we arrived there were large air-conditioned vehicles waiting for the groups of men and their families.. As there are only one or two roads leaving the airport, I am sure the motorcades – large and small were noticed. All of the participants to this meeting went to just a few of the more remote hotels.
Everything was – well tranquil. It was tranquil for the first 5 of 10 days.
The tranquility was broken at dinner. The conversation drifted from work back to families and how the families were doing. One of the wives mentioned that she had her beach wallet stolen, no credit cards or ID, but a fair amount of cash – about 1,000 Euros as well as all of the coins and her tweezers. Another wife mentioned too that she had been a victim on the beach and her sunglasses, hotel keys and her coins were missing too. After but a few minutes what appears to be a random loss came to appear as a crime-wave of epic proportions on the beach. When the husbands asked why their spouses and children had not been more careful, a rueful response was that they, the spouses and children, were careful – no, very careful – and they saw no one, no one at all near their belongings!
A wide spread domestic battle began to brew. Spouses and children swearing they were careful and the hard driving executive certain the family members were being lazy and inattentive. As the noise got louder and louder, a waiter pulled me to the side and provided an important clue.
Sir, these guests are careful as they are looking for people, but that are not looking for monkeys. You see several of the local gangs use monkeys to steal items from tourists. The monkeys are very smart and well trained, but even being well training they also like to steal shiny things. That why, earrings, keys, metal sunglasses, and tweezers are also often amongst the missing items. If they get caught, they apologize on behalf of the bad monkey and return the items. Also the many large cars arriving were a signal that many rich people had come to this location so the gangs bring their monkeys here.
I thanked the waiter and then waded into the growing domestic spat. I did my best to agree with both sides and tried to explain the monkey thieves. At first it was a bit hard as it was as though the term “monkey” was vernacular for a type of person, but I assured them that they were victims of serial simian heists and that a zipped bag is not a deterrent for a trained monkey burglar.
The men grew very quiet and began to speak in a different language, Bashkir or?. I no longer could understand what they were saying. But after about 20 minutes they began to laugh and backslap each other. These are mentally and physically tough men who know how to get their way in business and in life. They were up to something but when I asked them they refused to share.
The next day all of the men abandoned their meetings and went with their families to the beach and parks, the very places where their spouses had lost items to the monkeys. They asked specifically to be left alone, but they assured me they would be in groups and would be safe. So we did a loose deployment of graymen near and on the beaches, but there were placed more as a response team as opposed to one-on-one coverage. Little by little they came back to the hotel carrying small bags or something similar. By about 2 pm, I was called to the conference room to speak with the clients. They had something they wished to share with me. It seems my industrious charges had trapped a number of the thieving monkeys and stuffed the trap cages into rollaway bags and brought them back to the hotel. They had monkey napped the thieves!
My first reaction was convulsive laughter, followed by the real fear of the poorly conceived plan. They told me they would be willing to trade the monkeys for the stolen items and wanted me to deliver the message to the monkey managers. It was just about this time the conference manager came into the room to see if we needed anything and for a well tanned fellow he turned remarkably pale. The manager instantly knew where the monkeys had come from. The manager gave his guests an ultimatum, either the monkeys left or they did and they had 5 minutes to make either one of those happen.
I was informed by the resort manager that the charges had arrived at a solution guaranteed to serious problems involving the police and possible damages to the hotel by the monkey’s owners. It was very simple; their monkeys were expensive to buy and were like members of the family. The monkeys were not just a tool, but much loved providers for their owners. The response would not be a response based in logic but they would respond as though they had lost a loved one. I asked the manager if he knew a go between the monkey managers that I could speak to? He said yes, it was him, and what did I propose to say?
We discussed the issue and it was clear the charges would not be forced to release the monkeys unless they could claim a victory and that the monkeys had to leave the property now. But, the manager also suggested the equivalent of a sit down with one of the monkey managers and one of the charges. This was arranged and in 30 minutes, our charge surround by a detail and the monkey manager and the resort manager. The charge immediately released the one monkey to the monkey manager and the charge said the rest would be released upon a return of the stolen property. The monkey manager said nothing and left.
The next morning there was a series of tables set up in a room off the entryway of the resort. Spread out on the tables was both property and cash. The businessmen and their family selected what was theirs and left the rest. It appears the monkeys also stole a good deal from others than just the Russians. The Russian businessmen true to their word brought the moneys back into town and tied to the collar of each monkey a small tube with 100 Euros in the tube and let the monkeys go.
Later that afternoon the resort manager had a great smile on his face. He told us that the incident was considered over and the thieves were impressed with the toughness and grace of the Russian businessmen. The manager also said that after this vacation was over none of them was to ever return to his resort.
There are about a dozen lessons in this, but the primary lesson is you cannot plan for everything and local knowledge and the willingness to ask for it can make a big difference.
This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Baron James Shortt, the Executive Director of the IBA.http://www.ibabodyguards.com