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
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