What to do if you are robbed in a foreign country

There are protocols to follow if you are mugged while travelling overseas.

What to do if you get mugged

When travelling overseas, there’s almost nothing worse than getting mugged and experiencing the depth of that sinking feeling. Sometimes it can happen so quickly that you don’t even notice. That was the experience I had on a busy London street one dark evening.

I had crouched down, up against a building, to search for something in my crazily over-packed bag. I took the precaution of facing away from the people wandering up and down the footpath, but it was to no avail.

Someone made a loud noise behind me, off to my right, and in a startle, I turned to see what it was. When I turned back, my purse was gone. I had put it on the ground next to my bag and I guess when I turned to the right, a thief sidled up to my left and pinched it. He or she was probably working in a team with the person who created the noisy diversion.

I didn’t see it coming and, extraordinarily, my three travelling companions standing nearby also saw nothing. That’s how swift and crafty muggers can be.

Luckily, I was not carrying too much money and I was able to quickly report my credit card missing. But the inconvenience of having to replace all ID and other items I was carrying in my purse was huge.

I didn’t report it to the police, but according to the Government smartraveller.gov.au website, that is the first thing I should have done.

The site also advises travellers who have been robbed to tell their travel insurance company next. The insurer will expect you to have a copy of the police report, so make sure you obtain one.

If your credit cards have been stolen, contact your financial institution as soon as you can so they can de-activate them, preventing the thief from using them.

If it is your passport that has been nicked, you must report it online. To do this you will have to go through a number of steps to verify your identity, including providing your passport number, so make sure you have that written somewhere else.

If it is during business hours, you then need to find the Australian embassy, consular office or high commission in the city you are visiting and drop in to obtain a replacement. Here is a list of Australian consular offices around the world.

In extenuating circumstances, the offices may be able to lend you money if all yours is stolen and you desperately need some. However, they will first insist that you borrow money from family or friends before you can convince them to give you a loan.

If you are lucky enough to receive a loan, when you return to Australia your passport will likely be held and not returned until you have paid back what you owe.

In a worst-case scenario, for instance, where you may be stranded far from help, you can phone the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.

Have you ever been robbed overseas? If so, what did you do, and was your experience of international police stations satisfactory?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    16th Apr 2018
    We were robbed the same way except we had quite a lot of cash in my wife’s purse. We did report it to Police. On return back to Australia we were told by our CUA bank stiff !!! You must’ve left your pin in purse. My wife was a Government employee for 30 yrs with signing rights. It was typical of banks taking from anyone!!!.
    Michael and Christine
    16th Apr 2018
    Wow. Did you take it further? With contactless paywave cards they don't need a pin and they can steal $1000 a day.
    16th Apr 2018
    Why would the bank repay you for lost cash????
    You should have had travel insurance in any case

    If your card was stolen, then a good bank like CBA or NAB would have blocked the card immediately. They provide excellent customer service in that regard
    18th Apr 2018
    Oh that sinking feeling indeed! We had a very similar experience while travelling through Europe a few years ago. Even though we thought we were very careful at the time, it all happened so quickly. My wife's purse was snatched before our very eyes and by the time we realised what happened, apparently it had changed several hands and a few hundred Euros were spent on our Visa. Luckily, we immediately did report it to the local police station and obtained copies of the report. We also called our daughter in Melbourne who organised to notify our bank and cancel all credit cards. Upon our return home, CUA bank were very understanding helpful. They reimbursed all unidentified amounts spent. However, it was a very unpleasant experience that spoiled all the joy of that trip and taught us a hard lesson.
    17th May 2018
    I'd NEVER have my bag open like in the photo, it's just begging robbers to take everything you have!

    You can usually report a stolen card on your internet banking service.

    Ask your bank if you can have two access cards just in case of one being stolen whilst overseas.

    I know some pre paid travel cards come with an extra card. ANZ travel card with your name on it, applied for online gives you 2 cards for $11, and you can order a second card for a Virgin Velocity card for $10, but it won't have your membership details on the back of the card (which also includes your name).

    NEVER have just a waist belt with all your goodies in it. It's a giveaway that you're not a local.
    17th May 2018
    All points posted here do make a lot of sense. One can't be too careful at all times when travelling. Thieves are very 'professional' nowadays and spend a lot of time watching passers by, especially tourists...who always stand out! When they decide to make their move, it always happens when you least expect it. They have ways to snatch or cut open hand bags beyond imagination. We have heard lots of horrible stories from other travellers. Travel insurance is a must and always have copies of all important documents. No need to carry a lot of cash nowadays. Just in case the unthinkable happens, notify local police and arrange to cancel all credit cards immediately.

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