Our day started out well, with both of us waking up and feeling well rested. We had wifi access, so got caught up on email and blog posts, then packed up our stuff and moved out of our spacious double room. We were the only guests for the night, so sat down for a coffee and breakfast with the staff (Maurizio, Eve and Dannii). After breakfast, we moved all of our bags down to the back patio of the hostel, since it was a quiet area.
In hindsight, it was foolish to leave the bags unattended, but with no-one around except staff and the two big dogs, we figured they would be safe for 30 minutes. Maurizio, Eve and Dannii were very interested in our bikes, so we set them up for test rides, then Scott sat down to do some bike maintenance while Becky did some more work on the computer. It wasn’t until an hour later that she discovered one of her bags was missing.
All five of us looked everywhere in the hostel, but found no sign of the bag (one of Becky’s bright yellow front panniers). After an hour of searching, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the bag had been stolen.
The bad news was that this bag contained Becky’s wallet (including driver’s license, health card, credit and bank cards), camera and most traumatically our mascot Puffie (Becky is most traumatized by where Puffie might be and the loss of the pannier itself). On the bright side, it only contained a small amount of cash as we had not successfully gone to a bank machine in several days. In packing for the ferry, Becky had removed some key maps (Greece and Turkey) and her passport, so those thankfully were not in the bag. We lost maps of Italy and Syria, a couple of books, and some small clothing items (touque, gloves), which will likely be hard to replace. We are sure as the days go by we will discover a few other items that were in the bag.
Once we were certain that the bag was not misplaced, we cancelled the two credit cards. Fortunately, the joint credit card has different numbers for Scott and Becky, so Scott’s card still works. We then headed out for a visit to the local police station. We were first directed to the Carabinieri – which are the national police similar to the RCMP in Canada. They sent us to the Polizia Statale which are the local police. They are located in a Questura (police station). Once there, we found someone who spoke enough English to allow us to file our report. She felt it necessary to offer us a snack / coffee from the Bar. Reminded of advice from Friedel and Andrew , we took her up on the offer and we each enjoyed an Italian coffee before returning to the Hostel.
Since the wallet contained both Becky’s driver’s license and her passport photocopy, we are concerned about identity theft. In addition to cancelling all the cards, we will put a fraud alert on her credit reports. In Canada there doesn’t appear to be a way to do a “credit freeze” like in the U.S.
Instead, we need to file a “fraud alert” with the credit bureaus. All this means is a note is put in our credit report. It is up to the companies accessing the report what they do with it, so doesn’t seem very effective to us.
Annoyingly enough, the Lonely Planet guide did warn us about petty theft in Brindisi, we just did not expect it here. We are both very annoyed and frustrated, both with ourselves for being careless, and that someone would actually sneak into the hostel compound (which is fenced and gated) and steal a bag. It is common practice for staff to leave their laptops and cameras out – often forgetting where they last put them. We think if the hostel had been more populated, we definitely would have been more careful.
With passports in hand, we will continue with our journey to Greece on tomorrow’s ferry. We will likely plan to replace the pannier and some of its contents in Istanbul, as we know of a good bike shop there. We are again without a Mascot.