Every now and then, my warped sense of humor takes over and gets me into trouble.

Case in point, when I was dating my wife, she and several of her girlfriends came down to Galveston to enjoy the beach and to visit.

I was showing them around, and we were headed to the West End when we passed on of the scroungiest looking dogs I have ever seen.

One of the girls commented on it and I jumped in to explain to her that what she saw was no ordinary dog but was, in fact, a very expensive “Oyster Dog.”

As everyone knows, oysters are found in large numbers along reefs and oyster beds but few know that before the evolution of modern boats with powerful engines and winches, oyster gatherers had these specially trained dogs to help them.

Oysters are bivalves and when threatened, shut completely for protection. Few are aware that they can also use this shutting as a means of propulsion to move themselves away from danger.

The oyster dogs were trained to go on the opposite side of the bed, jump up and down in the water, bark loudly and “herd” the fleeing oysters into the nets of the waiting oystermen.

Hook, line and sinker.

A month later, I get this blistering phone call from one of them who had recounted her knowledge of the famous breed of dogs to someone who knew better. Ouch.

This is going a long way to tell you to be careful of what you are told about things you want to buy. Tourists are sitting ducks for the con artist. Scambusters.org reports tourists in London being sold rare talking parrots — actually wild parakeets found in the city parks — for huge sums. Not only are they worth almost nothing, they can’t talk — if they could would they have a British accent? — and many, because they were wild, die shortly after being sold.

Closer to home, we have the phony rental scams that rent a beach house to an unsuspecting client. The person has absolutely nothing to do with the property and when the renter shows up, they find the house already occupied.

Change? What do you mean you don’t have change? Taxi drivers can be a problem, especially if you are not familiar with the local currency or haven’t exchanged some of your money for smaller bills. You end up paying more than the ride was worth.

Then there is the cashier who is giving you change and doing it so slowly, with pauses, that you think you have all the money and leave not realizing she has just scammed you.

I have to admit foreign currency has a tendency to confuse me. Usually, it is colorful and in denominations that I don’t easily understand. Someone could hand me a fistful of worthless paper and tell me I was a rich man, and I wouldn’t know the difference.

Rick Steves, the world traveler, cautions travelers to examine their money as this worthless money scam has happened to many in the change to the common euro currency.

Always something — remind me to tell you about the crab on top of Gaido’s. That really got me in trouble.

Remember: Think, prepare and execute crime prevention designs. Don’t be a victim.


Walt Candelari is a police officer with Dickinson Police Department. He is writing a series of columns on creating an environment of safety from burglars.

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