I’m not going to tell you the common stuff everyone knows (buy travel insurance, don’t bring too much cash, etc.) You know all that. Instead, I’d like to shed some light on unusual insights, which you only get after being forced into a chair by thugs and made to sign off on bills:
1. Let Them Be The Ones Who Grab the Money
After my robbery in Tokyo, I was asked to give a detailed accounting of the incident. I told said that my first response, upon realising I was being robbed, was to ask the robbers “Look, how much money do you want?”
Then I reached into my wallet and handed them the cash.
With that one gesture, the officer informed me, I had massively screwed over my case (if we ever make it to court).
There’s a good reason some criminals don’t lay hands on you straight way: they want you to be handing them the money. Because if there are witnesses around, it’ll sure look like you’re choosing to pay them for something.
And that’s what they’ll tell a judge: that you agreed to buy a phone / watch / sex (if one of them is female) from them, and are now trying to get your money back. And some people do lose in court; those crooks end up keeping what they stole.
So when being robbed, raise your palms in a gesture of surrender if you can, and tell them where your wallet is. They may be dumb enough to grab it themselves.
2. Until the Police Report Exists, the Robbery Doesn’t Either
Like me, your credit card might be used by the robbers. They’ll force you to sign the bills, under the threat of unrequested – and extremely permanent – plastic surgery to most of your face.
The best way to dispute this charge later is if you lodge a police report, and get:
- The name of the investigating officer(s)
- The actual report, or at least its reference number
Talking to a policeman does not suffice. You need to ensure that an actual report exists. In my case, the first officer I spoke to didn’t make any report at all – had I simply assumed he did, I’d have had no way to dispute the charge.
(Mind you, this just gives you a chance to get the charges dropped. I was still held liable in the end…but at least there was a chance.)
3. Follow this Sequence to Make Insurance / Dispute Claims Easier:
The first thing you’ll want to do, if you’ve been robbed, is to call and tell all your friends. Don’t do it. I called my bank in a record 2.5 hours after lurching / crawling around and begging cabbies to drop me at the cops, but it was still too late for them.
So proceed in this immediate order:
- Call the bank to block your card asap
- Call the Singapore embassy and report the incident
- Get the police report first, and then…
- Get the medical report (even if its a small scratch, go to the hospital and have it documented)
You can leave the storytelling till later. Any breaks in this progression will raise questions. You don’t want the insurer or bank asking why you only made the police report five hours later – or if that injury was self-inflicted, because you only reported it when you got home two days later.
Ever been robbed? Comment and let us know what you learned from it!
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