Yes, such things happen and if you travel long enough it might happen with you. More over it can happen with you even if you do not travel =) But then you are at home and you know precisely what you should do. But what do you do if you are robbed abroad?
I wasnt sure if I should write about, but it’s the part of the traveling experience and I hope my experience can help someone. Though I still hope you wouldnt need my advice.
Last week when I just came to Krasnoyarsk the hostel where I decided to stay was robbed. In the morning my wallet happened to be missing. As well as some cash of the other travelers in my hostel, some cell phones and even one passport. Luckily the thieves didn’t take my camera and a laptop (thank you guys, really!)
The other good thing is that I don’t carry much cash on me, having just enough for the daily use and the rest is on the bank cards, so I personally didnt loose much, but still quite an unpleasant experience.
So the first thing I did was to call the banks and block the cards, second was to call the police though the rest of the people in the hostel were against it, saying that Russian police is not best place to call when you are in need.
Yes, I know that there’s quite a lot of stories about russian policemen trying to get bribes from the tourists and being useless in solving crimes and I have no doubt that such things do happen. But at the same time I know from the personal experience, and you can trust me here as traveling and meeting people is my job, that most of people in Russia are nice and helpful and policemen at the end of the day are just people like me and you. So you have as much reason to be afraid of them as to be afraid of any other Russian person =)
We did call the police, the policemen came, wrote down the story, photographed the place of the crime and took all of us to the police department. Have to say that the whole procedure takes for ages, that’s the biggest minus of addressing police. You are most likely loosing the whole day going through the paper work. Still I think it’s worth it and I’ll tell you why.
It was 6 of us all together taken to the police department: me, Irina the owner of the hostel, 3 more guys who’s cash and phones went missing and one more boy Sergey. Sergey came to the hostel the same day with me, said that he was robbed and has no documents and money and needs to stay somewhere for one night waiting for his sister to send him the money. Irina allowed him to stay.
The same night 3 guys checked into the hostel just for a couple of hours between 4 and 8 am and in the morning half of the hostel was robbed. Of course we all though that the guys were the one responsible for the things missing but the policemen decided to check Sergey as well.
I stood up for Sergey, reminding the policemen about the presumption of innocence but they said that Sergey’ll be detained to check his identity and was taken to the other room in the police department. Here me and Irina got a bit emotional feeling sorry for the boy who did nothing and already got detained.
The paper work was over and we were allowed to leave, non of us hoping for the crime to be solved.
The same day Irina contacted the owners of other small hotels in the area and found out that there were similar crimes happening recently when a boy introducing himself Sergey would come without the documents and ask to stay for one night and the same night 2 or 3 people would come to stay just for a couple of hours with the valuables missing after they leave but non of the owners called the police. Irina reported about this to the police department and today I got a call from police saying that Sergey confessed that it was him and his friends who robbed not just me but the others and the criminal case was opened against them.
Well, what do I have to say about it.
Even if you are more then sure that someone is innocent or guilty it’s worth checking twice. It’s definitely worth reporting of any crime that happens with you, even though your particular crime might not be solved but it might prevent the other similar crimes from happening. Russian police can be trusted and they actually work, not just take bribes as many people think.
I’m not sure if I’ll get my money and bank cards back as Sergey’s crime bodies who ran away with my wallet are still missing but I hope that these particular people will not harm anyone as now they are wanted and hopefully caught soon.
So if you were robbed…
1. Do not panic
2. Call the police and cooperate with them
And in general for your safety lock up your valuables in the locker at night and if there’s no locker leave them at the reception. That’s what I didnt do and regretted it but will always do from now on =)