Reporting a Crime Overseas
Reporting a crime overseas can be a stressful, confusing situation. Language barriers, differing procedures and foreign laws and justice systems can all seem very scary and almost not worth the hassle if the crime was small, such as a mugging or other form of theft.
However, all crimes that occur overseas should be reported. Not only might your insurance require a copy of a report if you need to claim the value of something, but reporting a crime is the only way to make sure that the local authorities know what is going on. Whether for yourself or the future safety of others, reporting a crime overseas is the right thing to do.
Be PreparedNo one likes to imagine a crime occurring on the trip of a lifetime, but being prepared just in case will make things much easier if one does occur. To begin with, consider taking out travel insurance and carrying claim forms with you in case you need them. Also make sure that you travel with photocopies of your passport.
This means that you should have multiple copies of the identification pages with you as well as leaving at least one copy with some one at home. Remember to carry the copies in a separate location from the originals when you travel. Also carry with you all contact information (phone and fax numbers, email and addresses) of the embassies in the countries in which you will be travelling.
If you are staying in one country for a significant length of time, consider registering at the embassy to let your own government know of your plans. Enter the country's emergency telephone numbers into your mobile phone as well.
Reporting CrimesUnfortunately, many travellers are the victims of crimes while abroad. Some areas of the countries you will be visiting may be known to be locations which are less safe, so always check with experienced travellers and see if you can avoid these areas if possible.
If not, keep your money and valuable items with you at all times and preferably in front of you rather than in a backpack. Avoid back alleys, walking alone and flashing valuable items, and do try to avoid becoming intoxicated while alone.
If you do become the victim of a crime, don't panic, the first thing you need to do is remain calm and contact the local police and report the crime. This may be hard if you do not speak the local language fluently, but you can ask the police for an English speaking officer or a translator - if there is no translator enlist the aid of another traveller or even someone at your accommodation who may be able to act as a translator.
Also contact your embassy to report the crime and solicit advice. If you need a replacement passport or have been left with no money, report this as well. Embassy representatives may also be able to arrange medical care if it is needed, such as finding a medical professional who can discuss STIs, HIV/AIDs and abortion if these topics are pertinent. Contacting your family at home will also be easier if your embassy staff is involved in the incident.
The AftermathSome travellers find it hard to complete their trips after becoming the victims of crime. If you find yourself yearning to return home then there is no reason to fight these feelings. Particularly after traumatic incidents such as a physical or sexual assault, many victims require counselling or other therapy. If you recognise that you may need help, then acting on it is one of the healthiest things you can do.
However, you should be careful to ask the local authorities and your embassy if leaving the country is possible and/or a good idea, if an investigation is on-going it may be recommended that you stay. If needed, discuss your options with a member of the local authorities and a local solicitor before you decide whether you should stay or you should go. If you do decide to stay, asking a friend or relative to fly in to meet you might be a good idea and help you feel more at ease.