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When I had my wallet taken I lost cash, a bank card and a credit card. I immediately called and notified the bank card and credit card companies of the theft. I was uncertain about reporting the event to the police, with only a few days left in Spain I really did not want to spend the time in paper work bureaucracy. So, I did not report the theft to the Madrid police.

After returning home, I received a call from my credit card company, the department that looks in to theft and.. fraud. They wanted a copy of the police report. They wanted to know why I had not reported the theft to the police. "Is laziness a valid reason?" I asked. As it turned out, due to my speedy reporting of the theft, all fraudulent charges to the account had been declined. Neither I nor the credit card company were out any money, no additional investigation required.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have reported the pickpocket theft.

Robbed in Spain, what next?
First the disclaimer - I have not research this topic thoroughly, what follows below comes from other peoples experiences and my thoughts on how one might proceed, it may not be the best way.

  1. Notify the bank card and credit card companies of your lost. (If you followed my advice on the safety page, you kept a copy of all the contact information needed in a second location.) Credit cards can often be replaced with in 24-48 hours. If you have pre-booked hotels they can send the cards ahead. to meet you at your next hotel.
  2. Check to see if your hotel will help you report the theft to the police. If they are unwilling to make the call for you, see if they will give you the phone number for the police. It may be possible to do a police report over the phone and then pick up a copy of the report the following day. I suspect, reporting of theft is handled a little differently in each city. In some cities it may be necessary to make your police report in person. Do get a copy of the police report, your bank, credit card and/or insurance company may require it, and you may need it to replace other documentation.
  3. Replace your lost documents. If you have lost your passport and or green card you will need to contact your countries Embassy in Spain. I would call ahead for instructions, but likely, you will be required to show up in person to have your documents replaced. Make certain you have a copy of the police report with you. Photocopies of the documents you need to replace should expedite the process.
  4. A day with out money? If you have prepaid for your hotels, you will at least have a place to sleep and if they have a restaurant you might be able to charge your meals to the room. Still, hotels require identification (usually a passport) to check in. Assuming you have transport to your next hotel, my guess is that the hotel would find a way to accommodate you, that copy of your passport might do the trick. Madrid and Beyond reports; since hotels arranged by them are prepaid, travelers do not have to worry about getting into their hotels. Madrid & Beyond can fax vouchers to the hotels in the event their client has been a victum of a pickpocket.

Worst case scenario:
Cash gone, credit and bank cards gone, passport gone, no back up copies of your documents, you have checked out of your hotel and you still need to find a place to sleep tonight.

Have you or anyone you know been in this situation? Please e-mail me and tell me about the experience. In this situation, I think I would try to go back to the last hotel I stayed in to seek assistance but what if I have already moved on to the next city? Head to the police station I guess, try calling the credit card companies collect. Call mom and dad collect and have them wire money. I would like to hear from people that have faced this first hand.

Do not get your self in to the worst case scenario:

  1. Before you go, make certain you have the phone numbers for replacing the credit cards; make copies of your plane tickets and passport (green card); stash copies in as many locations as you can think of (like the hotel safe), leave a set with a trusted friend at home.
  2. Consider prepaying as much of the trip as possible before leaving home, knowing you have a place to spend the night should make the other hassles more bearable. My recommended Spain Travel Agent is an option for prepaying. Also, some of the hotels (I believe they are the ones listed as specials) on TravelNow require prepay.

Read about other peoples experiences with pickpockets here

Go to the Spain safety top page

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This page last updated July 2007