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Hello from Rome!

4:09 AM claire 1 Comments

In Rome now, in my hotel but the twitter cant' load and i can't reply to facebook status comments?? Facebook friends if you are reading this, i am reading all your replies okay!! Thanks for all your concern I am okay :)

Why would they ask if I am ok? Because I was politely robbed.

Wth does 'politely robbed' mean?? I hope that you guys read this and share it with your friends because it is very prevalent in European countries, this isn't the first time I've heard of it. Be aware!!

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It was 830pm in Rome, the sun had set, and it was dark apart from a few street lamps. My two friends and I had been travelling all day to get to Rome. We took the train from the Fiumicino Airport to the central station, and were dragging our luggages as we walked upslope to find our hotel.

We walked through a small road, surrounded left and right by buildings and parked cars. There was no one else on that quiet road. No one loitering around, or even walking by. We trudged on, hungry and tired, anxious to get to our hotel, take a quick shower, before grabbing dinner nearby.

Suddenly, an European guy appeared in front of us and asked if we spoke english, while holding a map. We replied that we did, and he asked us for directions to the Colosseum.

(On hindsight, the Colosseum is not open at night.)

He asked us where we were from, and said that he was from Greece.

(He was not from Greece.)

Anyway, being the friendly, trusting and naive people we are, we told him we're from Singapore and that we didn't know where the Colosseum was.

Next thing we knew, two men wearing navy blue windbreaker vests approached us from the back, shouted "POLICE!", flashed their passports at me, and asked my two male friends to empty their pockets to check for drugs/cigarettes.

Before I went to Europe, a friend already warned me that police will never ask you for anything on the streets. I immediately knew something was wrong, so I told my friends "Bu yao gei" in mandarin, which means "don't give" in english. Plus, passports?! No way was I buying that. My only regret is not remembering the names I saw on the passport because they flashed it so quickly.

Unfortunately, they didn't hear me due to the shock of the moment. You know, when you're in a state of shock and your brain just switches off and lets you be commanded.

I knew we were trapped. They had cornered us with our backs against the wall, facing us square. They were big sized, strong men. I thought of an escape route but it'll be impossible with our luggages, and if they had a gun, well that would be even worse. The only way out was... to accept it and hope they didn't hurt us.

They asked for our wallets, took our money out, and when they returned it to us, they folded the notes in half to make it look like it was the same amount. In fact, they took half or 3/4 of my notes. EUR 250.

I knew that they had been watching us from afar, perhaps from the apartments above. After they 'returned' our wallets to us, they asked where we were going and said that our hotel was just up ahead. The two 'policemen' walked us til the end of the street, but before we reached the junction, pointed up ahead and walked in two different directions.

The policemen split up.

By then, I was feeling absolutely terrible, and the first thing I did when we checked in was to ask the reception if the police patrolled this area checking your wallets and etc, and he said there was no such thing.

I immediately took out my wallet, and counted my money. EUR 250 gone just like that. They took some from my friends too, but the bulk of the loss was from me.

We checked in, I sat on my bed, and cried.

I was so distressed I didn't even want to eat dinner, even though I was starving. I just lost money did I look like I was about to spend what little I had left??

One of my friends made instant noodles so I had a little bit, then I told my parents about it. They recommended looking through my insurance policy and check if I could claim! AND I COULD!!!

It was only after knowing that my insurance covered loss of money that I could actually go to sleep.

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The first thing we did the next morning was to head to a police station to make a police report. While waiting, we talked to the other people who were also at the police station. Turns out we were all tourists who were pick pocketed at the train station or had their stuff stolen somewhere. We shared our experiences so that we could be more careful, since we take safety for granted in our own country.

When it was finally our turn, the police said that our scenario was common, and that these people were romanian. They even had a photo list of suspects! They showed us some pictures but our tricksters were not even on that list!!

We made an appointment with the police officer to walkthrough the entire trickery on the same street, and he pointed out that there was a security camera on the next street, which was why the tricksters separated and stopped walking us to our hotel. These people were pros.

Think we all knew that it was close to impossible to catch the people who did this to us, but the police told us that they'll contact us if they had any leads.

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I wanted to gain new perspectives in life frmo this trip, grow up and be more independent. On the first night, I get conned robbed. I'll say, it's a good start.

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