The young male was in the process of robbing an elderly man at knifepoint when nearby Santiagueños intervened and took a peculiar form of revenge.
In scenes recalling the public stocks of old, social media was abuzz with pictures of the unfortunate robber, branded “flaite” (“white trash”) by Twitter users. Stripped near-naked, he was tied to a lamppost and exposed to the mockery of passersby.
“This ‘flaite’ assaulted and put a knife to an old man’s neck. He struggled, but a group of men grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground,” one witness told press.
“They took the knife off him, slashed his clothes and tied him to a pole with plastic,” she added.
A crowd soon assembled and tweeted triumphant photos and jibes, with the Carabineros — Chile’s uniformed police — taking over 20 minutes to arrive on the scene.
“I feel proud of people today,” tweeted one witness. “The ‘flaite’ of Banderas and Agustinas was pretty well-bruised.”
Just in time for the US holiday of Thanksgiving, social media users were also treated to pictures of the would-be thief’s plastic-wrapped rear end, oddly reminiscent of a prize turkey.
Citizens may have good reason to deal out rough justice by themselves. Although levels of public confidence in the Carabineros, at 56 percent, far outstrip their trust in Chile’s political class, recent police figures reveal that some 93 percent of robberies in the first half of 2014 — some 166,000 cases in total — went without any resulting arrests.