Oops…I did it again

Oops…I did it again

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Yes, I did it again. No relationship to the Britney Spears performance (better Richard Thompson or Max Raabe). No nothing to do with relationships except with me and the pickpockets in Bologna. Crowded bus – DANGER zone, actually probably a crowded anywhere. So this time the wallet contained 3 credit cards, my bancomat (debit card), my Carta d’Identita’ (identity card), my Italian driver’s license and my (obsolete fortunately) permesso di soggiorno. I was only on the bus for a few minutes, perhaps ten at the most. As soon as I got off of the bus I instinctively checked my borsello (man bag) and saw that the zipper was open and the wallet was gone. The guy must have been pretty talented since I did not feel a thing when he opened the zipper and removed the wallet. It’s only about 200 yards from the bus stop to the house. Once inside I immediately cancelled all of the cards. The two Italian credit card and bancomat I could have just cancelled with the app on my phone. The American credit card I needed (at least I think that I needed) to call, which I did with Skype.

So now I needed to go to the police department (questura) or to one of the Carabinieri office. There was a Carabinieri closer to where I live. I knew that it was probably small and hopefully had fewer people in line and I was right. I had to make a denuncia which is a report of the theft. They write a meticulous report of what was stolen and where. I absolutely had to do that because otherwise I cannot get the documents replaced. So that was the first stop. Next I went to the bank, they made a copy of the denuncia and did the paperwork for the 3 cards. Then I went to the comune (that is an office of the city hall) and applied for a replacement Carta d’Identita’. I didn’t realize that I would need a passport size photo but I walked to a photo shop that provides such photos (the 3rd time that I’ve been there) and had the photos done and returned to finish the paperwork. Then on to the library to replace my library card.

I then returned to the bank to get some cash because since I use a card to pay for virtually everything these days, I was broke. I ran into a woman employee there who I have worked with before and she told me I didn’t need to wait for the bancomat, they could give me one immediately: which they did. I got both Italian credit cards (two different types if you must know) in a couple of days and the Carte D’Identita 4 days later. Well, I would have gotten it 4 days later if I had been at home when the postman (more likely a woman) came to the door for mail requiring a signature but I wasn’t. So rather than automatically sending it to the branch office with instructions to pick it up there there, were instructions to call their toll free number and tell them what to do – send it to my house again, send it to the local post office or perhaps even refuse delivery. I had been in Torino when the envelope came so  I went to the post office when I returned. It was unclear to me at that point that the card was not there. So the woman there, taking note of my limited Italian both in language and knowledge of procedure, explained that if I called the free number now it would come to the post office in 3 days or if I did nothing it would come in either 3 days or maybe 4. So I went there after 4 and retrieved the card.  The lagging card is the American credit card. I now realize that I probably should have asked them to send it Fed Ex or at least airmail. It’s now been about 2 weeks and could be up to another 2.

Ah yes, there’s a bit more to the story. While I was away in Torino I got a call from Bologna. The woman asked if I was Joseph Nance and I said that yes I was. She then told me that someone had found the wallet and turned it in to the police and then told me exactly where to go at the Questura to retrieve it. It had all of the cards and documents except the expired permesso di soggiorno (the thief probably didn’t notice that it was expired). The day after I returned I went to the appropriate office and of the officers that seemed to be sort of milling around asked me why I was there. I told him about the wallet and he disappeared. Not much later another policeman asked what I was doing there and I repeated it. He seemed pretty young and inexperienced, maybe the other guy sent him out to do an easy task. So after I gave him my passport for identification and the denuncia he went off for awhile, came back and asked if I shouldn’t be going to the Carabinieri office. No, I was specifically told to come exactly to this office. It took quite awhile for him to finally find someone who was clearly much more senior and I got the wallet back. They really should tell these guys where the Lost and Found cabinet is.

After this 3rd theft I decided that I must come up with an anti- pickpocket solution. A friend contributed a chain after I described  my plan. I thought that I was pretty safe before but now I definitely have an extra level of insurance. The chain is firmly fastened to the back but with a clasp inside that I can undo to detach the wallet from the bag. There is enough chain to allow me to easily use the wallet when still attached. It will, I hope be an insurmountable challenge for even the most adept pickpocket.

The anti-pickpocket solution

Beyond the basic wallet security I realize that it is stupid to be carrying some of the cards around. I can leave the Carta I’dentita at home as well as the Permesso, Driver’s License, 2 of the credit cards and put the bancomat in another location in the bag. Mostly I pay with Apple Pay on my phone anyway. It’s very convenient and I can pay by credit card or bancomat.

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