Be­ware of be­ing pick­pock­eted!

Fairlady - - TRAVEL - For more travel sto­ries go to www. go­light­ly­travel.word­press.com

Iwas pick­pock­eted on the un­der­ground be­tween Mi­lan Cen­tral sta­tion and Mi­lan Cadorna. In hind­sight it was so ob­vi­ous: a young woman made to help me with my suit­case, then leapt off the metro as the doors were clos­ing. Only later did I re­alise it was a ploy to dis­tract me as her as­sis­tant got into my hand­bag.

Our pass­ports and train tick­ets were miss­ing. Luck­ily, I usu­ally keep my phone, money and credit cards in sep­a­rate zip pock­ets.

I had copies of our pass­ports on my iPad, but we needed Wi-Fi to ac­cess them and couldn’t buy lo­cal SIMS with­out proof of iden­tity. So we down­loaded copies at the near­est in­ter­net cafe and bought data by email­ing proof of iden­tity. But first we had to re­port the theft to the in­tim­i­dat­ing lo­cal po­lice, the Cara­binieri. Af­ter a good few hours we man­aged to com­plete the po­lice forms.

Hap­pily, the South African em­bassy in Mi­lan in­formed us that a young Croa­t­ian trav­eller had picked up our wal­let and re­turned it to the em­bassy. Our train tick­ets had been re­moved, and the rest tossed to the ground. My fear of iden­tity theft proved un­founded. The em­bassy said pass­ports are now very dif­fi­cult to steal given the new bio­met­rics.

We were soon re­united with said pass­ports, but had to now ‘un­re­port’ the stolen pass­ports. You need to re­turn with the ac­tual pass­ports be­fore they can­cel the pa­per­work.

I did this on my own – and what a dif­fer­ence it made to be a woman on her own! Ital­ians love flirt­ing!

How­ever, there are a few ex­tra precautions we will take in fu­ture:

• We usu­ally split the phone, credit cards, money and pass­ports any­way, but make sure you both hold money and credit cards in case one bag is stolen.

• Make copies of ev­ery­thing and store them where you can ac­cess them from any­where. Have pho­to­graphs of your doc­u­ments as a backup and mail copies to a friend as added se­cu­rity.

• Keep vi­tal con­tact num­bers and any other num­bers you need to ac­cess prop­erty or your ad­dress in the town you’re vis­it­ing on good old-fash­ioned pa­per, as well as on­line and on your phone.

And keep calm. If it hadn’t been for my hus­band con­stantly telling me that los­ing our pass­ports was the lucky part of this theft, I would have un­rav­elled. That, and the fact that in 30 years of travel, I couldn’t be­lieve it hadn’t hap­pened be­fore...

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