Arica is a relative crime free city, but as with anywhere it pays to be attentive. Most crime in Chile is opportunistic in nature, as opposed to the occassional strangle muggings and minor ATM kidnappings you have to be wary of in Bolivia and Peru.
So I heard this story, of an eminent British archaelogist* I met there. He and his wife had been eating in a restaurant on main street and it seems someone quietly removed their bag.
But what I found fascinating was that the thieves went to some trouble to return their passports to the consulate. Consequently they were able to continue their travels relatively unimpeded.
If only all criminals were so considerate.
* it’s not difficult to find an archaelogist in Arica…they’re attracted to the area like flies to the proverbial. The ultra-dry environment of the region preserves like no other place in the world.