Replies: 12 - Last Post: Jan 26, 2013 8:13 AM Last Post By: ling816
Jan 11, 2013 7:40 PM
Policeman?We, (my husband,my brother and my sister-in-law) were in Rome for vacation during December 22nd and 24th. At the day of December 22nd, around 14:00 (2:00pm), we were trying to find the Via Urbana, where my friend lives and we should meet her there. I had a map on my hand, trying to figure out where we were, a short young man approached me, offered a help to take us to that street (actually, we were at that street, we just couldn’t find the street name). He speak quite well English, told me he learnt it in England, never be in the states, but want to go for a visit. We followed him to a quit street, Via del Capocci. In between street number 47 and 48, he took my map, stopped to look at it. At that time, four men in the age of 30s to 40s approached us. They are all tall, about 5’11” to 6’1” wearing black jacket. One of them with a round face, dark eye brows showed us something like a passport, saying “we are drug police man, this area always have drug trading, please show your passport, this young man is suspected doing drug trade”. We took our passports out, showed to him. Then he said, show us your money. I took my money out, I only have $50 and a €20 note. my sister-in-law unzipped her front waist bag, took some dollars out, meanwhile, another man unzipped her back waist bag, took $1400 out her bag. Before we see whether he put the money back, another man pocked my brother’s jacket saying: “what is in here?” All our attention switched to my brother’s direction, no one paid attention to my sister-in-law’s waist bag. My brother took a pack of cigarette out from his pocket, the man smelled it, then he took $200 out my brother’s pocked. My husband was upset, he refused to take any money out from his pocket, he said, “why you need us show you our money? Who are you?” The first man again showed his ID (looks like a passport), saying they are the drug policemen. Meanwhile, My husband took the my brother’s $200 out from the hand of the man who took my brother’s money. Then the first man tell us that we can go now. We didn’t know what was going on. We were late for our appointment with my friend. We harried to find my friend, didn’t check right way what happened to my sister-in-law’s money. Hour later, my sister-in-law checked her waist bag, found the $1400 was missing. She and my brother went to the police station at Via Forini to report the case. Since they couldn’t speak Italian and English well, they were send back without knowing why they had to wait for 2 hours. After I met with my friend, I went the police station with my brother and sister-in-law at about 18:00 (6:00pm). I told the policeman on duty what was happened. He asked us to fill the report (attached). However, the report only limited to “Theft-Pickpocketing-loss; Purse snatching; Stolen”. Our case is very different from those listed cases. I filled the report representing my sister-in-law, descriping what happened to us and the money.
The policeman on duty reported to detectives. Two detectives took us to the second floor. They told us the four men were not policeman and the policeman should wear the uniform. But the drug policeman may not wear the uniform, it is common, at least in the states. They showed us two big books of black and white photos, asked us to point out whether the four men were in those photos. The photos were not very clear, only one man who took my brother’s cigarette and money can be recognized. Then the detectives asked us when will we leave Rome. I told them we are tourists we only stay here till night of December 24th. They asked us which hotel we stay in, I told them it was Hotel Acropoli. Then they told us they would contact us at the hotel in the morning of the Monday, December 24th, they confirmed to us that we should wait at the hotel, would not come to the police station again.
We waited at the hotel on the morning of December 24th at the hotel till after 10:30am, no one came to the hotel. We cannot afford to waste time, we needed to visit Rome, that was what we were there for. So we went to the police station. However, the policeman on duty had no idea what was going on. When I showed him the report, he called the office, and tell us that the two detectives were not in the office yet. He didn’t know when they would show up. I left my cell phone number and email address to the policeman, asked him to pass on to the detectives.
So far, we didn’t get any news about our case and no any response from that police station. It seems nothing happened.
Are those four men really not Rome policeman? After we recognized one of the men to the detectives, what happened to him and our money? What is the result of investigation from the detectives? We still don't know.
Jan 11, 2013 10:15 PM
1sounds like something bad happened to you- which could have been avoided if you had been slightly less naive. would you hand over lots of money to a stranger in your home town? Or follow a stranger around who accosts you?
However, i can't really be bothered to read it in detail. Try being a little more succinct and using the return key every once in a while.
Jan 11, 2013 11:27 PM
Jan 12, 2013 12:44 AM
3Sound like your vacation was horrible.
Jan 12, 2013 1:35 AM
4Yes,you must be the most unlucky tourist ever to visit the country.......
Anyway...good to post a warning about these scams from time to time (even if you could have made it a lot more legible and shorter ;-)
There are conmen praying on naive tourists all over the world...i have had something similar tried on me at least 3 times that i can remember (though they never got any money)
BTW i think it is very unlikely that they were real policemen,but who knows? As other threads have shown recently police officers are not all law abiding citizens.....
Jan 12, 2013 7:50 AM
5I am sorry to write everything in so much detail. My purpose is to let people who travel to Rome know what may happen to them. As I know no one tells this kind of experience before. Policeman! not a regular theft and at middle of the day in front of your eyes! I am naive. I had been Rome 26 year ago. It was a beautiful experience. Time and people really change. Most of Rome local people speak English with accent. Not much these people. If you can speak good English, you can do a lot of things to earn money, why go this way? Too much non-naive people in this world! We didn't hand out our money. If policeman take your money, what you do? I really don't know.
Jan 12, 2013 9:55 AM
6Are those four men really not Rome policeman?
Of course not. The police already told you so. In some European countries police can be undercover, for instance on border trains, and can ask you for a passport. But they will never ask you to show them your money. Yes, in the past sometimes they did in Eastern Europe, so that you'll give them a bribe. But even they wouldn't just take your money. It seems like you have been slighty naive, and lost 1400 dollars. For some people this would be there whole budget; i hope you had some reserves. Too bad it happened, but i hope you learned from this mistake and just walk away if something like this happens again. Not very nice though of the Italian police they didn't meet you like they said. I think they will just put another file in the computer and have a loot into it once they catched on of them when they try it with others.
Hope you had a fine christmas and new year after all!
Jan 12, 2013 10:35 AM
Jan 12, 2013 8:42 PM
Jan 12, 2013 8:43 PM
Jan 21, 2013 1:05 PM
10A couple of things. First off I think the original poster was using her second language (English) for the post, so forgiveness is in order for the run-on sentences and general difficulty in comprehending the story.
I had a simliar thing happen to me in Budapest. I was alone one evening trying to find a particular address. I was on the edge of a fairly well populated area, but walked one way, looking for a street sign, then retraced my steps. My movements were obviously those of a lost tourist and the predators pounced. A little guy with a big map approached me and in broken English asked my help for directions. I of course had no idea where he wanted to go, but wanted to locate myself & my destination on his map. Right on cue two burly guys in black leather coats (what is it with Eastern Europeans and black leather?) show up, flash open wallets and say "Police". They claim we were doing a black market currency exchange and want to see our passports. One guy sttod in front of me while his partner stayed slightly behind me on the left, the little guy on my right, meant that I was surrounded.
Now I've traveled all over the world, including years living in Africa where there was a black market for hard currency. And I knew Hungary did not have this problem, so I knew this was a scam. I am ashamed to admit I did hand over my passport, which was examined and returned to me. The little guy did the same. The "police" then asked to see our money. The little guy complained and was "hit" with an open hand by one of the "policeman". He then complied. His money was examined, passed the test and returned to him, all in full view of me. Now it was my turn to show them the money, the amount of which I possessed would either prove my innocence or condem me to jail.
I asked to see their id. It was handed over and for all I know it was a library card. I dropped his wallet on the ground as I handed it back to him and began to say in a loud obnoxious American voice. Police! Police! If you are POLICE let's go to the POLICE station! All the while I was saying this I moved towards a better lighted area nearer to the foot traffic. The lads started to look nervious, tried to block me from walking away, but I just kept moving and talking. Finally they gave up and walked away looking for new prey.
I have to hand it to them though. They did an excellent job of picking their target. Slapping around their partner was a brilliant intimidating move. It was only the incredible illogic of showing my money would somehow prove, well, prove anything at all that tripped them up.
Bottom line. If approached by anyone claiming to be police insist on going to the police station with them and walk via well populated roads to get there. Cop shops are NOT hidden away in alleys. OH and don't ever show anyone your money!
Jan 22, 2013 4:34 AM
Jan 26, 2013 8:13 AM
12Sorry to hear that. This kind of scam is getting serious in Rome. These people are from Romania as I was told by a Rome police. Usually they target on Asian tourists like Chinese, Japanese or Arabic as they believe foreigners usually don't bother to make fuss with the police during travelling. You have become a victim obviously because you were holding a map like a tourist.
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