It does not happen in Pakistan only. A freinds brother in Italy faced a similar situation.
A number of you have heard about the theft of my car last Friday. I am sending this email to all of you so you are aware of this incident and take necessary precautions to keep yourself and your family safe.
I live in an apartment block with a surrounding wall around it. There are four multi story buildings in this block. The block has two vehicle gates and a personnel gate. The vehicle gates are operated by hand held remote. The gate takes a minute or so to fully open and has a 2-3 minutes time delay before it restarts to close once opened. For each apartment there is a garage. Some of these have automatic door opener while the remaining have to be manually opened. Mine has to be manually opened.
On Friday 19:10 Hrs when I returned from work I parked the car opposite my garage, left the keys in the ignition and went to the garage to open the door to park the car inside. While doing this I saw someone talking on the mobile walking at a fast pace in my direction. He then started to run, and in seconds was in the car. I ran back to the car and in my foolishness tried to open the passenger side door; I do not know if I succeeded. I remember hearing the man saying something loudly in Italian while he maneuvered the car and drove it speedily out of the gate, which was still open because of the inbuilt time delay. One of the residents a couple of garages away was parking his car and he saw some of this incident. I talked to him but the language was too much of a barrier and he shrugged his shoulder and walked away.
I knew the theft had to be reported but I did not know who to call. I did not even have the vehicle registration plate number. All the car documents as well as the rental agreement were in the car. Also a set of house keys, the gate remote controller, my international driving license, and a set of drawings I was taking home to work on during the weekend were in the car. Normally I have a laptop with me and sometimes carry passports in my brief case. Luckily these were not in the car this time.
I called Mazen and luckily found him still in the office. In a few minutes he came to my help. We called all the numbers listed in the Maggiore brochure but either got no answer, busy signals, or recorder message in Italian. The only number that answered said they were a car breakdown service provider. They gave us another number to call which either no one picked up or a recorder answered (I forget which). We decided to drive to the airport as we knew the Maggiore office there would be open. The Maggiore office gave us the car registration number and told us to go and get a report from the Carbinieri (police station) at the airport. The Carbinieri asked us to go to another police station at the airport who told us to go to the police office at San Donato. By the time we found the San Donato office it was past 21:00 hrs. The guy there told us the office was closed and told us to call the emergency number 112 and to come back the next morning. We called the emergency number twice but the person answering would only speak Italian. The situation was getting ludicrous. Maggiore wanted a police report and the police were saying they were closed for the day, and the thief was running around with the stolen vehicle with no one to apprehend him!! We decided to go back to Maggiore office from where the car had been rented. On the way I remembered I had my secretary (Suela) mobile number. I called her and requested that she call 112 and report the car theft. At Maggiore the guy said without the police report they could do nothing. We tried to get SNAM to help, but no contact could be made
On the way back close to San Donato we saw a building with a sign saying POLIZIA and a police man standing by the gate. We stopped and approached him. He did not understand us but called a lady officer who spoke some English. She took us inside and discussed our case with others in the station. She came back and said we should go to another police station in the morning (she gave us the address) and in the mean time she reported the theft on the 113 emergency phone line (which was different from the 112 number the Carbinieri had told us to call !!) .
After spending a sleepless night I woke up early and walked to the Carbinieri office. Not knowing what to do I pressed the same bell I had pressed the previous night but got no response. I kept ringing but nothing happened. I was hesitant to walk in as there was a big warning sign in Italian. After a few minutes someone on a motor cycle entered the parking lot. I approached him; he did not understand but took me inside the building to a police officer. As I feared, the officer spoke almost no English. I had a pocket English-Italian-English dictionary at home and some hindsight had made me grab this before I left home. Using this and sign language I explained to the officer what had happened as best as I could. Luckily (?) it was a weekend and there were no other customer. The officer patiently listened to me and using the dictionary as a go between wrote up a report, printed it and asked me if it was OK. I understood all my personal details in the report but obviously not the meat of the report which described the incident as this was in Italian. I signed the report, not knowing what I was signing.
I took the report to Maggiore. The guy told me the car was fitted with a satellite tracking system and the company operating it had been alerted the previous night. If the thief had not disabled the tracking system then the car location could be pin pointed and also the car could be stopped and made inoperable using the satellite.
Suela called the police on Monday morning and they said the car had not been found. At noon Maggiore called to say the police had found the car abandoned with out the keys. Until now I do not know if my personal things are still in the car. I have changed the lock on my apartment. If the thief has taken the keys and remote control he can still enter the building. I have told the landlord to warn other residents. Maggiore has not replaced the car as they ay they have no other vehicle with automatic transmission.
When getting out of a car always take the car keys with you and lock the car even if you plan to be out for less than a minute.
Never leave family members inside the car with the engine running (to keep the AC and music on). If you are getting out take them with you.
Keep the house keys separately from the car keys and always keep the house keys in your pocket.
Do not keep any personal documents in the car.
Keep a copy of the car rental agreement in your house or office.
Be aware that a boundary wall around your building block only gives a false feeling of security since the entrance gates are not manned 24 hours a day.
Buy an English-Italian-English dictionary if you do not have one.
Request Management to set up a 24 Hr, 7 days a week, helpline which could be reached by any employee or his dependent in case of emergency.
Find out what help AOC can provide in case of an emergency situation in Milan, or a emergency situation back home.
I have already requested Nizar’s help with items 8 and 9. He has assigned this to Abdulaziz.