The safe that never was

A group of four women and a man from Brad­ford un­dergo apart­ment theft or­deal - but at least were flat­tered by be­ing called 'young ladies' in a clumsy free­bie re­port on the in­ci­dent

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Irena Bodnarec

Group of Bri­tish hol­i­day­mak­ers suf­fer apart­ment theft or­deal

BE­ING the vic­tim of crime is har­row­ing enough, but when it hap­pens in an­other coun­try whilst on hol­i­day, it is all the more dis­tress­ing.

Hol­i­day­mak­ers are con­stantly re­minded not to take pass­ports or too much money when go­ing out and to al­ways hire a room safe for valu­ables.

Well five friends – Alice Col­ley, Sharon Birkey, Va­lerie Ket­tlewell, Kath­leen Brown and Les­lie Hold­ford – came to Benidorm and did just that, fol­low­ing all the rec­om­mended ad­vice yet still found them­selves caught out.

The group from Brad­ford, West York­shire were flat­tered to be re­ferred to as ‘five young ladies’, as re­ported in one of the free­bie pa­pers here – as in ac­tual fact they were a re­spon­si­ble ma­ture group of four ladies and one gen­tle­man.

They met with Costa Blanca News on Satur­day af­ter­noon to ex­plain the hor­ror of what had hap­pened.

Ar­riv­ing last Mon­day on Jet2 from Leeds Brad­for air­port,, they were look­ing for­ward to a week in the sun and meet­ing up with other friends who were also on hol­i­day in Benidorm.

They booked an apart­ment us­ing the web­site Book­ing.com and chose the Apart­men­tos Torre Gerona, next to KFC on Calle Gerona lo­cated in the heart of the Rincón area, which had a score of 7.9 and a ‘good’ rat­ing.

As listed on the fa­cil­i­ties avail­able, they opted for the safety de­posit box which was lo­cated on top of a chest of draw­ers in the wardrobe of one of the bed­rooms for their valu­ables.

On Thurs­day the group de­cided to head out to the old town, leav­ing some­time shortly af­ter 16.00 to sam­ple some tapas then go onto the Pride ‘White Party’ up at the Mirador.

They ar­rived back to their apart­ment around 02.00 and Kath­leen went to put some­thing in her suit­case, only to find it miss­ing.

Her friends joked that she must have moved it from where she thought she had left it, but Kath­leen’s radar was in­stantly alerted that some­thing was wrong. She went straight to the wardrobe and was hor­ri­fied to find that the en­tire safe had van­ished and that her miss­ing case had ob­vi­ously been used to smug­gle it out.

There was no sign of a forced en­try, lead­ing them to the only ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion - that some­one had a key to get in. Noth­ing else in the apart­ment was dis­turbed or taken.

They were to­tally shell­shocked and un­der­stand­ably upset, for as well as all their pass­ports they also had their purses with credit cards, driv­ing li­cences and all their hol­i­day money - around €2,000 cash be­tween them in the safe

The po­lice came and took pho­to­graphs within the hour and the fol­low- ing morn­ing they re­ported it at the SATE of­fice. Friend Jacky Palmer put up a post on a lo­cal Face­book site, warn­ing oth­ers of what had hap­pened. The news quickly spread, as did of­fers of help. Jac­qui Perkins, one of the ad­min­is­tra­tors of the site put out an ap­peal ask­ing mem­bers for help get­ting the group to the con­sulate and air­port for their re­turn flight on Mon­day morn­ing, which was an­swered by Dave McQueen who runs Ali­cante Trans­fers. An­other mem­ber, Stan Gregory treated the group to a meal out on Satur­day and they were also of­fered money to see them through the last few days of their stay.

To add in­sult to in­jury, they had to pay for the safety de­posit box, which shock­ingly was not re­funded.

A Span­ish gen­tle­man, who is a long term res­i­dent (over 30 years) and lived next door to their apart­ment, told them that there had been many dis­turb­ing in­ci­dents tak­ing place in the block.

When they re­ported it to the book­ing site all they were told was to put ‘a bad re­view’, with no apol­ogy. The key col­lec­tion took place at an­other block, Acuar­ium II and the re­cep­tion­ist there was equally un­con­cerned when told what had hap­pened.

The five were picked up early on Mon­day morn­ing, with Alice head­ing to the Hon­orary Ir­ish Con­sulate, be­ing the holder of an Ir­ish pass­port and the other four to the Bri­tish Con­sulate for their emer­gency travel doc­u­ments to get them back to the UK.

The process was thank­fully fairly straight for­ward and they ar­rived with the nec­es­sary pho­to­graphs re­quired. In­ter­est­ingly, the Ir­ish doc­u­ment cost only €30 whereas the equiv­a­lent Bri­tish one, was £100 or €116. They then took a taxi to Ali­cante air­port, ar­riv­ing in plenty of time to dis­cover that their flight was de­layed for three hours. Jet2 had to ver­ify the doc­u­ments, mak­ing some phone calls which took around 15 min­utes as the book­ing had their orig­i­nal pass­port num­bers, but oth­er­wise it was an un­com­pli­cated af-fair: hey will all now need to ap­ply for new pass­ports and as Alice is booked to go to Egypt on Septem­ber 22, she is keep­ing her fingers crossed that it will ar­rive on time. them The off group re­turn­ing said to that Benidorm it hasn’t and put all had been be­fore with­out prob­lem, with the ex­cep­tion of Sharon. Cer­tainly the power of so­cial me­dia and the help, love and sup­port shown by ev­ery­one made a hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle less bit­ter.

Alice Col­ley, Sharon Birkey, Va­lerie Ket­tlewell, Kath­leen Brown and Les­lie Hold­ford

Alice and Sharon with the emer­gency Ir­ish and Brisith travel doc­u­ments

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