Cambridge,  England,  London,  Note,  Sussex Wanderer,  United Kingdom

BRP Stolen in London

Last December I experienced a magical thing. I got my BRP and my daughter’s BRP cards stolen and returned back. BRP is Biometric Residence Permit, a very important identity card used to confirm the right to study or work in the United Kingdom (UK). The cards were inside my wallet which was stolen when I was counting money to buy a ride token in the Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London, on the first day of my 9 days end-year trip. During that holiday, my family and I planned to travel around London, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Cardiff and Bath. Imagine how devastated we were to continue our next 8 days journey. Other than the two cards, there were also one credit card (which I could easily call the bank to block it), some store membership cards (that were not so important), and only £5 cash. I did not care about the other stuff, but I was really depressed to lose the two BRP cards.

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:

  1. In the site, I traced back where I walked to look for my wallet, in case it was dropped somewhere.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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:
    1. 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:
    2. Immobilise (https://www.immobilise.com/). This is being linked by the metropolitan police in their email, so it should be legitimate. It is actually more suitable for registering items that cannot be identified easily such as gadgets or bike, not ID cards, but I signed up and submitted my report anyway to this website. It’s free.
    3. Report My Loss (https://www.reportmyloss.com/). I had started to signup and fill up the necessary information, but I stopped when it asked for payment £4.95. Maybe later.
  5. The next morning I went to the nearest police station, about 2 bus stops away from my hotel. Guess what, the lady in the reception told me that the police stations did not accept loss report anymore, instead I could submit it online through website Report My Loss (the point #3 above, so the website is also trustable). Everything seems digital now in England. As suggested, I then submitted the report and paid the fee online. 
  6. I sent a direct message (DM) to the Metropolitan Police Twitter account (https://twitter.com/MetCC) because I read their twitter was active although it was a holiday season. Indeed, somebody replied my DM advise me to contact Winter Wonderland team via email wwlostproperty@pwrevents.com. God bless people who work on a holiday!
  7. I emailed and sent a DM to Winter Wonderland Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/hydeparkwinterwonderland/) asking if they had any updates about my wallet.
  8. Pray A LOT!

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!

Afternotes:

  • 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.

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