Packed luggage, booked tickets, researched sightseeing locations, chosen restaurants and a lot of excitement. The following is the basic traveler’s checklist before a new amazing trip. However, just like any adventure, the road may take unexpected turns and one may end up in a situation that has never been foreseen. Perhaps one of the traveler’s worst nightmares is having lost/stolen documents. The initial reaction of a person is incredible frustration and anger since no thieves usually mean to steal the documents and yet now you are in the middle of a foreign city without any idea what to do. Since I found myself exactly in this situation, I will share with you my experience.
It was a Sunday evening and I was inside the Milan metro with my parents, exactly around the rush hour. We were talking in a high voice, making it obvious that we were tourists and holding a few large shopping bags, meaning that our hands were not free. My father had a cross body bag on a zip where he usually keeps all the money and documents safe and secure. Suddenly, something weird happened and as the train approached the station, a man passed by and screamed something loud towards us, making us distracted. The doors of the train opened and we were trying to enter but the two women purposely seemed not willing to move a bit aside. Entering last, my father heard the sound of the closing doors and put all of his attention on the shopping bags, making sure that they do not get stuck in the door. A few stops later he looked at me with worry and quietly said, “my bag is opened, all the documents are gone.” I felt my heart beating faster and anxiety hitting me like a wave. Passports, residence permits, health insurances, credit cards and some money – it was all in that little document holder of my father. The thieves must have thought that it was just a wallet.
The situation described is pretty disturbing but what is even worse is the complete absence of any plan of action. Here are the steps that need to be done:
- Breathe and not panic.
- Block the credit cards.
- If you are still in the metro, ask the staff a phone number of the “Lost and Found Office” as well as the website where you can submit an online form of the item that went missing. (Applies if the incident happened in the public transport) Keep in mind that the thieves usually throw the documents away immediately.
- Search online or ask for the nearest “QUESTURA” (a special police office that takes care of the missing items).
- Once you get there, you will want to “fare la denuncia” (the complaint). Usually, you will have to go through the metal detector and get inside a waiting room that will have a line.
- The police officers that usually speak English will carefully take note of everything that was stolen/lost and issue an official stamped and signed document. They will then take your phone number and an email address to contact you in case the documents are found.
- With the police claim, you will be able to go to the consulate of your country and they will issue you permanent documents that will allow you to function the rest of the trip and return home safely as well as to be able to re-make the documents later on.
Addresses and phone numbers in Milan:
- Questura Milano URP Ufficio Relazioni con il Pubblico
Address: Via Fatebenefratelli 11 20121 (MILANO – MI) Phone: +39 02 6226 5300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Questura Milano Divisione Polizia Amministrativa e Sociale
Address: via Cordusio 4 20123 (MILANO – MI) Phone: +39 02 6226 1
- Questura Milano Ufficio Concorsi
Address: Piazza Sant’Ambrogio 5 20123 (MILANO – MI) Phone: +39 02 7228 1
- Questura Milano Ufficio Immigrazione
Address: Via Montebello 26 20121 (MILANO – MI) Phone: +39 02 6226 1
Lost and Found: +39 02 884 53900
No matter what happens, remember to stay calm and know that the situation is fixable. Nevertheless, it is always best to keep an eye on your purses and leave the documents in the hotel. Stay safe and aware!