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rhymegirl
09-21-2010, 05:47 AM
I have a character who has had her wallet stolen. I want to make it true to life.

What is the correct process for this? Do you have to report it to the police?

If you do, is there anything they can do to recover it? Or do you just take the loss and have to go crazy getting a new license, credit cards, etc.

divy
09-21-2010, 06:15 AM
it probably varies depending on where the character lives, (big city vs small town) and also how it was stolen (mugging? or just stolen out of a bag? or was it left somewhere and someone picked it up?)

in my experience (big city, stolen from my purse, but not while it was on me) i pretty much had to consider it a loss. immediately canceled credit cards, reported any other cards lost/stolen (debit, health ins. card) replaced all ID.

it's a pain in the ass, and it's surprising how violated it can make you feel. i mean, it's just a wallet, right? i had pictures of friends and family, and some keepsake type things in there as well, and those were almost worse to lose than the money.

frimble3
09-21-2010, 06:47 AM
Mine was stolen out of my purse on a crowded city bus - we were all jostling each other, so hard to tell if a knock on the purse was deliberate or not until I got off. Then you go to the police station, discover that the local 'community policing office' doesn't count, have to go downtown to the main station. Fill in a form, nice policeman sympathises, tells me to report cards, call credit checking place, etc. Thanking God I only have one credit card (for emergencies - Hah! The 'emergency' was the damn credit card!) I reported everything! Bus pass, library card, medical ins card, told the bank in case anyone tried to clear out my account. At least I felt that I was doing something! The policeman was not very hopeful about recovery.
However, miracles do happen, 3 weeks later, as I'm trying to get new ID so I can apply for other ID, a package arrives from the Post Office. Some unknown person 'found' my wallet, removed the cash and nothing else, and popped it into a mailbox. The posties found my address in it, and mailed it back to me. I was out the cash, $30 ( idiot stole the wallet at the end of the shopping trip, not the beginning :) )
Two lessons from this: 1) don't carry all your ID on you. Leave some at home for the burglars. 2) No matter how on-line your banking is, go in periodically to a bricks-and-mortar branch, so that someone will recognize you when you have no ID. I practically cried when I went into my bank branch and a familiar teller greeted me by name and gave me money on my own recognizance, that first day.

Maryn
09-21-2010, 07:54 PM
Mine was stolen from my purse, unzipped when I got out my checkbook to make a purchase, by the boyfriend of the cashier, who was hanging around waiting for her to take her lunch break.

To my surprise, although the police took a report on the phone, they did virtually nothing to attempt to recover it. Although they didn't say it in so many words, I was clearly to consider getting anything back a lost cause.

The thief managed to charge about $1800 on my two credit cards in 80 minutes, before an alert clerk at Victoria's Secret noticed that not only did he not look like a ________ (my real name, obviously female), but that the signature wasn't even close. She faked a problem with the card and called the police, then me. The thief and his girlfriend took off. She never returned to work.

Luckily I had an annual ritual (done the week of my birthday) where I empty my wallet onto a copier and photocopy all my credit cards, then turn them all over and copy the backs, too. So I knew which cards were gone and how to cancel them. It still took half a day, though.

The credit card companies did not hold me liable for any of the charges. (Whew!) The replacement driver's license took a long time, but I had replacement credit cards, library card, and health insurance cards within ten days. I lost frequent-shopper cards where they punch a hole for every purchase and you finally get a freebie, and my blood donor card, some other stuff of that sort.

All in all, quite the hassle even though the loss was fairly small financially. (I think I had about $40.) I found out later that if I had reported it to the police of my town rather than the police of the town where the theft occurred, I'd probably have had more vigorous attempts to identify and prosecute the thief, including seizing video surveillance tapes at the mall where the guy and the girlfriend did their shopping.

Maryn, older and a tiny bit wiser

Kenn
09-21-2010, 07:57 PM
I have credit card insurance and this company would automatically notify all the necessary people if my cards, passport, etc. were stolen (it doesn't cost very much). They are also supposed to arrange replacements and give me some emergency money if I need it. I would inform the police for insurance purposes (or in case the credit card people decided to get awkward) and I expect they would log it down. There is not much they could do about it, however, unless I knew who had stolen the stuff. Credit cards are are of limited use without a PIN and it is the credit card companies responsibility if someone manages to use it (via telephone or the internet) after it has been reported stolen.

stuckupmyownera
09-22-2010, 02:08 AM
I had my whole handbag stolen while I was at work. I work in a very small office with very few people and I know for sure it wasn't any of them, so we were pretty sure someone got in that wasn't supposed to - it's not difficult.

If you want to claim on insurance you have to have a crime number (in the UK) so yes, I called the police. They didn't arrive for hours... They took a full report and a list of what was in the bag but they told me I probably wouldn't get it back.

My colleagues helped my look in all the litter bins and flowerbeds in the area in case someone had grabbed the cash and ditched the rest!

I cancelled my debit card and my phone. I don't think I had any other important cards then. My phone company sent me a new phone complete with sim card within 24 hours which was really helpful, and automatically locked out the old phone so it couldn't be used.

The thing I remember most was just feeling so confused. Like, maybe I'd just put it down somewhere and forgotten. Or maybe someone else had moved it without telling me. I searched the room - and most of the building - over and over again thinking I'd just made a mistake... It was a weird, weird feeling.

backslashbaby
09-22-2010, 02:37 AM
I couldn't imagine our cops investigating a wallet theft, honestly. They don't generally investigate home-invasion thefts, car break-ins, etc, in my experience.

So we'd only report it if insurance needed a report.

I got my passport pickpocketed on the way to the Czech Republic -- stupid busy trains where you get bumped into a lot. Getting a passport replaced is kind of a big deal. Presumably getting one stolen in the US would be, too, in case you need it to be for your story.

Captcha
09-22-2010, 03:11 AM
I had mine stolen from my desk at work (my desk was near the front where a lot of couriers came in, and I may have left the drawer open so that it was visible). I called the cops, but they didn't do anything.

It sounds like a good opportunity for characterization - is your character totally organized, with photocopies of all relevant contents? Or scatter-brained (like me), unable to remember much of anything without going home and sorting through old statements? Calm and matter-of-fact, treating the incident like a slight nuisance, or emotional, acting as if it's the end of the world? I think you could go any way you wanted to, really!

And my wallet, like someone above's, was discovered a few days later lying on the ground in an alley a couple blocks away. Cash was missing, but everything else was intact. Too bad I'd already gone to the fuss of having things canceled - I ended up throwing all the cards out myself!

SilverBirch
09-26-2010, 04:03 AM
I met a woman last year who'd had her purse stolen. Within a day she got a call from a Mexican restaurant across town - apparently the thief had taken the cash and cards, then dumped the entire contents of her purse into the back of a toilet in said restaurant. When a restaurant employee checked to see why the toilet had stopped working, they found the soggy remains of everything that had been in her purse, and called her. Talk about a mixed blessing!

shaldna
09-27-2010, 03:05 PM
I've had two experiences with this, one much better than the other. I lost my wallet once when out shopping, i set it down to pick up my bags and never lifted it again. Another customer handed it in, and the shop contacted me. All the money etc was still there.

The other time the money was removed, credit cards etc were left, as were my driving licence and rent card. It was handed it at the police station, someone found it on a bus - I hadn't been on the bus - and the police got in touch with me. By that stage though I had already cancelled all my cards, contacted the housing exec for a new rent card, reported my driving licence stolen and sent of for a new one - at a cost. What a pain.

Still, it happens.