My brother's brush with Vespa bandits

Larry travels the world working for a company that makes security-screening equipment used at airports, government buildings, military bases and the like. His business card says: "Trainer for X-Ray Detection of Explosives, Contraband & Weapons." Cool, huh?

Just got this e-mail from him and thought it worth sharing. He's in Italy.


I have heard about them, but did not think I would encounter them. Coming home from the Navy base I'm working at I drive through quite a bit of Catania city. The streets are all real narrow, twisty and people drive like they just smoked crystal meth.

Anyway, I just turned onto a street when one of a million suicide Vespa divers, with a passenger on board, zips between me and the oncoming traffic 18 inches away. I happen to notice these gentlemen peer in my vehicle as they pass. I also happen to have my laptop backpack on the front passenger seat.

For the first time since I have been here, a Vespa SLOWS DOWN and then follows me for a couple of blocks. I can't believe I noticed this, but I did. I locked the doors.

Next block I stopped at a light (which is a peculiar behavior here). This Vespa is stopped right behind me. They ALWAYS zip past to the front of the stopped traffic.

Just before the light turns green, I see in my rear view mirror the passenger jump off the Vespa, crouch down and run up to the passenger side. He tries to open the door once. As he tries again, the light changes and I floor it with him still holding the handle.

His fingers may have still been in the handle because I saw him do a little spin and dance as I rocketed away.

They did not mention this in the Catania tourist brochures.


Larry McNamara

By the way, Larry's a part-time cop, too, although in this case far outside of his jurisdiction. Today is his last day there. "Just got to make it to the airport in the a.m.," he says.

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