A Missing Suitcase and a Burglary

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There used to be a time when missing luggage was a regular occurrence and I always thanked my lucky stars if all our bags were on the carrousel. If something was missing, however, it always eventually turned up, creating inconvenience in the meantime, but no actual loss.  For the last few years, we have had no mishaps. So when only one of our two suitcases appeared during our stopover in Hong Kong, I was not unduly concerned. Relationnel was more worried than I was.

Carrousel at Hong Kong Airport

And he was right! Three weeks later, Cathay Pacific has still not found the second suitcase, despite my insistence. We have to fill out a claim form giving a complete list of everything in it, including purchase dates, prices and receipts. I’m having a hard time remembering exactly what was in it, let alone producing proof of purchase! Who seriously keeps dockets for everything they buy? I certainly don’t.

When I packed our cases on leaving Terranora, I put everything I was certain we wouldn’t need in Brisbane or Hong Kong in one bag and the rest in the second. So all our presents, everything we bought to take back to France, our winter clothes and some of our summer clothes have been lost. Frustrating to say the least and there is little chance we’ll be reimbursed much of the 3000 euro  I’ve estimated the contents to be worth.

So our homecoming was somewhat marred.

But it was not as bad as Black Cat’s. When she and the Flying Dutchman arrived back from Australia a week later than us, also via Hong Kong, she phoned from the airport to reassure me that they had retrieved all their luggage despite the fact that they had registered at Central Station.

Three hours later, she phoned again. They had gone back to Black Cat’s flat share in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, left all their baggage, including her laptop and camera with all her photos of Australia, and gone out for a couple of hours. When they got back, the place had been ransacked. The laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronic devices belonging to 5 people were gone, as well as all Black Cat’s jewellery, which she had carefully wrapped up in a vanity case at the top of her wardrobe, not realising it an obvious place for a burglar to search. Their combined losses are estimated at 20,000 euro.

The police eventually came and confirmed that the burglar had got through a small toilet window overlooking a 3-story drop, by jumping across from a landing window. They’re getting the landlord to install bars and put a better lock on their door. One of Black Cat’s flat mates has approximately located his stolen MacBook by using a built-in tracking system but the police say they can’t do anything about it until they have the computer’s IP address. We’re waiting to see what happens next.

Prey, an anti-theft tracking device for electronic devices

Andrea from www.rearviewmirror.tv told me about a (free) App called Prey “that is basically a bit of software which doesn’t do anything until you activate it through their site and then it tracks the location of thieves”. I immediately installed it on my laptop, iPhone and iPad. To find out your IP, go to www.whatismyip.com and make a note of it. I hope you’ll never have to use the tracking system but considering the number of thefts these days, it’s certainly worth downloading! Maybe I could have retrieved my stolen iPhone last year …

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15 Responses to A Missing Suitcase and a Burglary

  1. k_sam says:

    Oh man, how awful! And at least for your suitcase, there is a possibility that you could reimbursed through your bank – most bank cards offer theft/damage protection for the first 90 days after purchase, and/or travel insurance protection. It’s worth asking your banker about anyways!

    Regarding the 18th….yet another advertisement not to live there! I could be slightly paranoid because my husband was a police officer in that district and I heard about all of his cases on a daily basis….but there’s a reason that it is the most coveted police district in all of France (ie.because it has the most number of thefts, robberies, assaults, etc and thus the highest number of cases to work on).

  2. Fraussie says:

    Hi, I’ll look into the bank card insurance. I’d forgotten about that! Thank you.

    It’s very discouraging about the 18th, I must say, particularly since the police are grossly understaffed to deal with all the thefts, robberies and assaults! Although Black Cat reported the burglary about 3 pm and the police came fairly soon, the criminal police didn’t arrive to take the fingerprints until nearly midnight, after she had phoned several times. Since then, their file has been transferred to at least two other police stations. The people across the hall had already been burgled a short time before. She’s been living there for over three years and hadn’t encountered any problems before.

    • k_sam says:

      Everyone I know who lives in the 18th says it’s safe until they get something stolen. 😉

      And unfortunately with the budget cuts, there has been a hiring freeze in the 18th, so you are right, they are understaffed and case loads have doubled. So much so that any case under 1000€ of damage isn’t even investigated anymore, it’s automatically closed. Plus, it’s also up to each officer to decide the priority of each case, so if it’s not something he’s interested, you often won’t get very far. All of this and more is why my husband recently left the police force – it’s no longer what he originally signed up for!

      • Fraussie says:

        I totally understand him! When they went down to the police station to report that they knew where the MacBook was, the officer on duty was very interested, but next day, no one could care. Now it’s been transferred to the “complex” case department so we’re hoping they will be able to do something at least. I can’t get over the guy’s cheek, knowing that they must be back soon. And fancy taking the risk of falling down three storeys.

  3. Jill says:

    Oh no!! Fraussie, I can’t believe you lost all that :(…surely it has to rock up at SOME time??? And can’t believe it followed on with blackcats property being stolen..gees…whats going on? Perhaps the ‘prey’ software is something we all need to consider… Jill

  4. Fraussie says:

    I know, it’s so discouraging. And I really like the clothes that were in that bag! What’s more, they were all new because I renewed my wardrobe after losing all that weight …

  5. Lyn says:

    Hi Fraussie, that’s really terrible. I would never be able to provide that sort of proof of purchase? wen Deirdre and I arrived in Rome in 2002, we stood at the carousel and it went round and round until there were no bags left and we finally realised our bags were not going to arrive. We put in our lost bag forms and then as we didn’t have anything to carry, we caught the Metro into the city and walked to our Hotel, which was quite close to the Station. Luckily, our bags arrived a couple of days later and we had some clothes again.

    Then in Florence, I had my backpack stolen, luckily, I had had my photos downloaded at an Internet cafe the previous day. I lost my camera, my phone book, my change purse and my hat. I had all of my cards and passport in a money belt. Thank God. So, it was not too hard to put in an insurance claim.

    Poor Black Cat, that is so terribly upsetting for her and her friends.

    • Fraussie says:

      Yes, there are a few precautions to be taken such as downloading your photos each night and putting them in a separate place. The South American whom Black Cat had rented her room to via airbnb was extremely lucky as he had a large stash of cash in his backpack that wasn’t found!

  6. Susan Walter says:

    How intensely frustrating for you all!

  7. Susan Walter says:

    Many thanks for your nice review of my blog on Expats Blog.

  8. How awful – both for you and Black Cat. Any chance that you paid for your newly purchased items with a credit card? Maybe Cathay Pacific would be willing to accept a statement in lieu of receipts. Just an idea. I have to say that we’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the amount that we’ve been reimbursed for lost luggage. Of course, it in now way makes up for what you lost because many of the items are irreplaceable.

    Thanks for the helpful info about “Prey”. I’ll have to download it on my devices.

    I also found K-Sam’s comments to be very enlightening about the police force and the 18th.

    Good luck to Black Cat. I hope that she is able to recover some of her possessions!

    • Fraussie says:

      Hi, it’s my French insurance that wants “justificatifs”. In fact, I’ve now obtained 2 years’ statements from two chains where I shop regularly (I have a “carte de fidélité”) and just need a couple more but I have to go to the shops themselves which is a bit annoying, considering I’m in Blois! I’ll try sending them a stamped addressed envelope. It might work …

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