We were driving back from Chanchamayo recently from an Easter road trip. We got back into Lima around 12:30 am and we live in Surco near Ovalo Higuereta. We were coming in on the Evitamiento heading towards the Panamerica Sur to exit to Surco.
Suddenly, we had a flat (an apparent setup) and had to pull over. My wife says this was between the Priales exit and the toll booth – nowhere to go or exit close by. It is an apparent strategic location for tacking the road to cause flats and rob that my wife had heard about. I was totally oblivious to this knowledge, as I think most non-Peruvians probably are. It has a history and should be more publicized to non-Peruvians and should have a stepped up police presence, which it does not.
My wife was driving and our two boys (10 and 7) were in the back seat of our SUV. We pulled over and I found the back driver’s side tire flat. I got back in the car and we discussed what to do. As an American, we typically do not have a problem changing our own tire; however, my wife brought up the area’s history and we had a car full of luggage and things that did not make access to the jack a breeze. After she told me what she heard about the area, I looked back and all of a sudden saw a couple of guys sitting on a nearby guardrail that were not there before.
We decided to pull forward 50′-60′ and stopped again as my wife tried to call our car insurance company for assistance. I got out to see if those guys were still a that guardrail and make sure we were not tearing up the tire. I checked the tire and was trying to peer down at the guardrail when four guys seemed to come out of nowhere and attacked. They were all armed with large beer bottles and they kind of surrounded me. I moved them away from the car and the family a bit into the road (not much traffic at that time) and tried to see where they were going to go with this. It was an obvious robbery attempt, but you never know how violent are their intentions.
I found out soon enough. There was not really any negotiating. As one threatened to hit me with his bottle another came right in and cracked me over the head with his bottle. Once this attack occurred, the other two ran over to the passenger side of the car (hidden from traffic view) and were trying to use their bottles to break the window at each passenger door, where they could clearly see my young kids scared in the back seat with the 10 year old right next to the window and my wife in the driver’s seat.
After realizing that I had blood streaming down my neck and no other options, I went after the guy that cracked my head and started to grapple with him. Upon seeing a large bus oncoming, I took him down to the road and threw him towards the bus. I guess that basically eliminated one and then another who had to go help his buddy in the road. I then raced to the car to stop the others.
Thank goodness the windows held and the beer bottles broke first, as I would have been too late otherwise. Somehow, my wife unlocked the front door and they were opening it to get inside when they saw me coming up. One grabbed a bag of trash and ran and the other tried to rip off the radio, but dropped it outside the car as I got to him. He pulled away and ran and I chased him down to a street next to the highway (nearby neighborhood where they all apparently came from). My intent was to take this guy down and hold him for police or admittedly, hurt him when I heard my seven-year-old yelling for me and standing outside the car.
I immediately moved back in the direction of the car yelling at my seven-year-old to get back in the car when the punk ran and picked up a very large cement chunk. He tried to hurl it at me from a distance and managed to scrape the back of one leg. I picked it up to return fire, but retreated back to the car to get my seven-year-old and everyone out of harm’s way. Eventually, a highway serenazgo guy pulled up about 50 yards in front of us that my wife went running up to. They called an ambulance (and some guys to change our tire) and the police. I ended up going to the hospital and receiving treatment for numerous cuts and bruises and 20 stitches in all. We were lucky!
The police and their system of crime response was absolutely pathetic, which I would really like to bring attention to. I checked the American Embassy website and did not see any direct or indirect means of reporting crime.
One reader shares the terrifying story of a recent highway robbery near Lima.