I have been listening and watching the O.J. Simposon fiasco over the last few days and his self-confirmed 'sting operation' reminds me of similar things that happen here. Over the last few months I have witnessed many 'sting operations' by the local police in which they try to nab the Nigerian men who are selling the fake purses along various streets around Venice.
The whole thing is a farce to begin with. They never prosecute and if they do arrest, one night in jail is the most. And dont even think about deporting them...too much work. So, the illegal activity will continue long into the future. It is one of the things that I truly dislike about Venice--I think it really takes away from the beauty of the city.
The Nigerians have lookout men on either side of the group selling who scope out when the police are coming. They have just enough time to scoop up their purses and white sheet and shove it all in the big blue trashbag and make a dash for it.
So, just how does one of these 'sting operations ' work? Well, its all very high tech. They get some police to dress in plain clothes and 'casually' start walking toward the Nigerians. At the last minute, they break into a run toward them to nab the stash and the people. The problem is they are about as subtle as a bull in a china shop, most of them cant run nearly as fast as the Nigerians (I am sure this is part of their training for the job!) and there are so many of them, it ends up looking like everyone is running around in circles chasing their tail.
Effective, no. Entertaining, immensely! Fake Prada bags flying through the air, unsuspecting tourists who just made a purchase drop their bag and take off running out of fear, and Nigerian men yelling at the top of their lungs (taunting the police probably). In the end, the police usually end up with about 10-20 bags which they confiscate (and I would imagine divy up amongst themselves to give to family and friends). On the outside chance, they do catch one of the Nigerians, they surround him like they are playing 'ring around the rosy' and call in the victory to headquarters. Within the hour, the Nigerians have returned and set up shop to start the game all over again.
I have heard that in New York, they set aside an area for the sale of these illegal purses--all of the illegal activity is confined to one street....so instead of trying to stop the activity, they have made it into a mall area! Similar discussion has gone on here in Venice but the Nigerians were not happy with the area that was chosen for them to be located so they decided not to comply. Does anyone else find this whole discussion odd???
I am sure that this enterprise will not be eradicated anytime soon here in Venice. However, as long as I continue to enjoy the 'sport' of it, I should be able to overlook the distraction to my favorite city.