What to Do When Your Belongings Get Stolen Abroad

By Nick Wharton. Last updated 31 August 2016. 0 comments

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No one wants to face the dreaded day when their belongings get stolen, and especially not when traveling abroad. You've surely done everything to avoid this outcome, and now all there is to do is take the practical steps to set everything right.

This Is Not the Time to Panic

Panicking will not help the situation, and may put you in more harm. The best thing you can do now is to take a deep breath and prepare to handle the logistics required, calmly and pragmatically.

Make a Report With the Local Police

This is important, not because the police will necessarily be able to find the thief and return your belongings to you, but because this will give you a written record of the items that have been stolen. The police report will come in handy if you need to make any claims with your insurance, and it will also be important to get replacement travel documents.

Many countries require you to have some form of ID on you, so if you ever get questioned, you can show the authorities this police report and avoid getting yourself into further trouble.

Cancel Credit and Debit Cards

You'll need to make a call to your bank to cancel any credit cards that have been stolen. If you happened to have made a photocopy of your cards (or a smartphone image), you will find that very helpful right now, since they have the right toll free number printed on them for international calls. Plus, you'll be able to provide customer service with your account information seamlessly.

If you don't have this information conveniently copied, that's okay, too. You can find the phone number for your bank or credit card provider online. Even without your card number, they will be able to identify you and find your account information based on a series of security questions. (The exact questions will depend entirely on your particular bank's security system.)

At this point you, can decide if it makes sense to have a card mailed to you internationally. They will probably have an express service and should be able to get a card to you within a few days.

While you're on the phone, make sure to copy down your account information so that you have it on hand in case you need to call them again to further sort things out.

Call Your Travel Insurance Agent

Of course, not everyone has the foresight to buy travel insurance, but if this is something you purchased before your trip, now is the time to take advantage of it. If you do have a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you can call them and they may be able to set you up with someone who will help you with accepting money as well as offer support in other ways.

Depending on your plan, they may even cover the cost for you to fly home. There may be some fees associated with this, so it may not be the most cost-effective way to do it, but it is a safety net that you can rely on if needed.

Get Cash

If your bank has international locations, you can go into a branch to get access to your money. If you need an emergency transfer, you can often get one through Western Union.

Keep in mind that Western Union will require some sort of identification for you to be able to accept a transfer, so if you have no form of ID, you will have to have a trustworthy friend help you accept the money. Sometimes hotels offer money wire services for their guests, too.

Get a Replacement Passport

If your passport was stolen, you're going to need to go to the local embassy to get a replacement travel document. You'll have a choice of getting a temporary travel passport — which takes minimal processing time — or you can wait a little bit longer for another permanent passport. You will have to pay for the passport though, so make sure you have cash or your new credit card when you apply.

Take a Step Back and Put Things in Perspective

Getting material things stolen is not ideal, but your health and safety are really the most important. There is always something to be grateful for and positive thinking is one of the best things you can do to cope with an experience like this. There's no use getting paranoid or ruining the rest of your trip — just learn from what has happened, and try not to make the same mistakes again. There are always things that are out of your control, so don't beat yourself up about it either.

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