What To Do If You’re A Victim of Crime On Your Holiday

by Gareth Crew on December 14, 2009

Being the victim of crime when you are in familiar surroundings is difficult enough. When you are abroad in a foreign country, it can be the factor that exacerbates an already very stressful and unpleasant situation. Tourists are an ideal target for thieves; 1 in 20 will be the victim of some sort of crime on holiday. The problem with tourists is that they are generally easy to spot, they usually carry large amounts of currency and they often wander off the beaten path, ignorant to the risks they are taking. As a tourist, it is difficult to be any way other than this – after all, if you could avoid walking around with a large amount of money in a potentially unsafe area of a town or city, you would. Besides, even if every tourist in the world was able to instantly adapt to their new surroundings, statistics would see to it that a proportionate number of them were still the victims of crime.

So, if you are one of the unlucky number, what can you do to salvage the situation? The best solution is to follow C.R.I.M.E. – Cancel, Report, Inform, Maintain/Obtain, Entrust. Memorise this easy acronym before you head abroad, and if anything goes wrong you will know exactly what to do, making you and yours less likely to encounter difficulties further down the line.
The golden rule, above and beyond anything that is to follow, is to calm down. Keeping a level head, especially if you have become the victim of a potentially violent crime, is incredibly difficult, but it is a necessity if you want to make the best of a bad lot. Try and head to somewhere safe after the event such as a hotel lobby or, of course, the local police station. This will help you get your bearings and readjust. Once you feel confident to do so, follow C.R.I.M.E.

1. Cancel

The first thing to do is cancel any bank cards or transactional items that may have been taken. Thieves work with spectacular efficacy when it comes to withdrawing horrendous sums of money from legitimate bank accounts. Cancel any traveller’s cheques you might have lost, and as a preventative measure make a note of the serial numbers on the cheques before you travel and keep them separate from where you carry the cheques themselves. Over 60% of items stolen from tourists are either wallets or purses, so if you are the victim of a crime it is almost certain this will be the first step you need to take. If you feel such measures are futile or you cannot be bothered with such steps after your traumatic experience, remember that you will be depriving the thieves of the reason they committed the crime in the first place. Taking this one step ensures you win, from the beginning.

2. Report
Only half of all crimes perpetrated on tourists are reported. Many tourists simply put it down to experience and continue with their holidays. Do not. If you are in a situation that you would report to the police were you on home soil, do so while on holiday. This step is also vital for any insurance claim you might make. Getting official help involved is also a good way to feel safe for the remainder of your holiday.

3. Inform
When you report the crime, ensure that you provide the police with as full a list as possible of the items stolen so they can note it on their report. This is vital to ensure you have a hassle-free insurance claim (if such a thing is possible). If the police refuse to provide you with a full report due to the classic face-off between admin and severity of crime, ask for a crime reference number, the name of the officer you informed and the address of the police station you reported the incident to. You must inform the police as soon as possible, even if the crime was traumatic. The quicker you get the police involved, the easier things will be in the long run.

5. Maintain/Obtain
It is vital you collect as much evidence of the crime as possible. This can be, for example, keeping any damaged items that the thieves were unable to make off with. If your accommodation has been broken into, leave it as untouched as possible and attempt to get a police officer to visit the premises before disturbing anything. If the officer is unable to or refuses to attend, fully document the break-in by taking as many photographs as possible from as many angles as possible. With digital cameras now ubiquitous, this can be an incredibly powerful tool if you encounter any resistance from the insurance company. Finally, keep as many receipts as you can throughout your holiday, and try to keep them separate from your wallet or purse, in case you need to claim for items bought while on holiday or you lose a large sum of cash.

6. Entrust
In a worst case scenario, your passport will be taken. If this is the case, you must report it to the British Consulate, Embassy or high commission immediately. The importance of this step is paramount and should be done as soon as possible. A lost passport can lead to extreme difficulties if not dealt with as a priority. The Consulate or Embassy will issue you with temporary documents that can be used to return to the UK. Some insurance companies will cover the costs of replacing a passport, so keep any receipts of costs incurred. Depending on dependable people and entrusting them with your welfare is one of the best ways to cope with a traumatic crime.

Following these steps might not take away the difficulties of dealing with being a victim of holiday crime, but it minimalises the repercussions and might even make it possible for you to enjoy the rest of your holiday.

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