|The horrible night in Winter Wonderland|
When BRP is lost, it takes around 6 weeks to get a new one with such amount of fee, not including the hassle procedure to submit all necessary documents beforehand. That is why the University of Sussex, where I am currently studying, always recommend to keep the BRP card safely at home and not bring it every where. I usually did not take our BRP cards out, but at that time I needed them to apply for Schengen visa in London. I had planned a trip to Europe on 19 January, and booked a visa appointment in VFS Netherlands in London on 24 December while I was on holiday with family in London. The VFS office was only a walking distance from our hotel! What a perfect plan… until somebody took my wallet on the night before 24 December. The implications were I could not apply for the visa as scheduled, I could not fly to Europe in January as expected, I gained loss on non-refundable airplanes and train tickets that I had booked for the Europe trip, and I had to pay £75.2/person to get new BRP cards for me and my daughter. I calculated the total cost for me would be around £400 while the thief only got £5.
These are the efforts I did after I lost my wallet:
- In the site, I traced back where I walked to look for my wallet, in case it was dropped somewhere.
- I filled up the Winter Wonderland lost-form twice. It contained my name, address, phone number, time and location of the incident, and the detail description of the lost items: the wallet brand, color, material and all the items inside such as cards (detailing each card), receipts and money. Why twice? At first, I asked about reporting a lost item in the counter where I lost my wallet near the children play area, and the staff gave me that form to fill up. When I walked towards the exit gate to go back to the hotel, I saw some men in security vest, then I approached one of them to consult again about my lost wallet (nothing to lose to try, right?). He then called another security guy using his walkie-talkie, and this new guy asked me to follow him towards a counter on the Gold Gate (Winter Wonderland has 3 or 4 gates naming after a different color), and the counter staff gave me the same form that I had filled up before. I was about to say that I had done it but I was too tired to argue and just wrote it again. They said I would be contacted if they found my wallet.
- In the hotel I browsed the article about lost BRP on my university website (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/internationalsupport/immigration/lost/lost-passport-visa-inside-the-uk), and emailed the university immigration office asking more questions. Since it was the Christmas holiday, of course I received a reply message saying that the immigration office was close until 2 January. In the article it is said that I need to attain a letter from the university first before reporting lost BRP to the UK Government (https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/lost-stolen-damaged). I wanted to report and apply new BRPs as soon as possible, so I can receive them in the next 6 weeks, but I could do nothing until 2 January.
- In the article above, they say I only need to report to the police if I lose it inside Brighton, but not in London. However I would like to try it no matter what. It made me less stressful knowing that at least I had done anything I could do, instead of just waiting and being sad. I browsed the internet about the nearest police station from my hotel and how to report lost items, then I found these 3 websites:
- Report Crime to Metropolitan Police (https://www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/), It was actually for reporting a crime, not a lost property, but since I believed I was a victim of a crime so I just reported it online through this website. I then received an email with my Crime Reference Number saying the police would investigate and contact me, and some assistance on what to do next:
- If you have any more information that you feel could aid our investigation, such as CCTV, forensic opportunities, or any information that could assist us to identify those responsible, please contact us at www.met.police.uk/contact-us
- Alternatively, you can phone our Crime Management Services department on 020 8284 5100. Please be aware that lines are open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and due to call volumes, at times there may be a call queue.
- Victim Support is an independent charity, who are free to contact should you need help, support or advice on coming to terms with your experience: www.victimsupport.org.uk. London Victim Support: 0808 168 9291 (8am – 9pm, Mon to Fri, 9am – 5pm Sat), Victim Supportline: 0808 168 9111 (24hrs).
- To assist us in the identification of recovered property we recommend registering serial numbers and any other identifying references found on your valuables / mobile devices: www.immobilise.com/
- Crime Prevention Advice:
- Information on what happens after you have reported a crime:
Shit happens but life must go on. I had purchased return tickets from London to Cambridge for 24 December beforehand, which I planned to go after submitting Schengen Visa application in VFS, but turned out we’re going there after visiting a police office. It took about 1 hour 20 minutes by train to Cambridge, the laid-back university town. Just when we arrived at Cambridge train station around 1.30pm, I got a phone call from Winter Wonderland informing that they found my wallet!!! I asked if the BRP card with my name was there inside the wallet, and she answered yes, plus a child’s BRP card (“yes that’s my daughter’s one!!”, I said excitedly). OH MY GOD! Since I lost my wallet in Winter Wonderland, I was just being quiet but not crying, until I heard this great news. Even my mother, who was traveling with me at that time, was crying too. Alhamdulillah!
|Hopefully I can visit Cambridge again someday in a longer time|
The first stop of our trip in Cambridge that day was a mosque (Abubakar Siddiq), since it was already praying time and I would like to praise gratefully for what Allah did for us that day. We could enjoy our time in Cambridge but not too long because we wanted to come back to London as soon as possible to collect my wallet in Winter Wonderland, before they’re close that night. In the phone before, I was told to visit the counter in the Gold Gate. The counter staff then phoned somebody from their office, and that somebody came to the Gold Gate with my wallet! I checked the £5 cash was gone, but all cards remained. I couldn’t be thankful enough. I have learnt my lesson to be more careful in a crowded public place. Have a magical holiday and be safe!
- It was good that I had not reported the loss BRPs to the UK Government yet. Because, once you report it, the BRP automatically becomes invalid, and you need to apply for a new BRP even though you find the lost BRP later.
- I closed my reports in the 3 websites I submitted above.
- Someone from Metropolitan Police called me 2 weeks later to confirm in closing the crime report.
- My daughter and I went to London again on a day trip for applying Schengen visa. I got the earliest appointment on 4 January, only 15 days before my traveling started, a little bit tight. Fortunately the visa was finished in 5 days and I went back again to London in a day trip to collect them by myself on 11 January. We finally went to Europe on 19-27 January after so much drama.