24 September, 2012

Why you should talk to the police

Once you've been robbed of (or merely lost) your documents you'll have to do something about replacing them. First step: Police! Lots of chocolate! Second Step: Police!

I wasn't exactly sure where or how to report crimes in Bogotá (and to be completely honest, I forget their equivalent of 999 about five seconds after I look it up. For future, and hopefully entirely unnecessary reference: 123). Thankfully, while I was stocking up on comfort food I found a pair of police officers. They were incredibly kind and helpful - not only telling me where to report the crime (just around the corner - phew!) but also regaling me with tales of ingenious pickpockets, the various times they'd been pickpocketed themselves, and just being nice and sympathetic in general. Feeling much less tonta (after all, if the police themselves get pickpocketed, I shouldn't feel bad about it happening to me!) I strode off to the police station where another pair of officers were outside. I'd arrived exactly at closing time (6pm) - noes! However, continuing the trend of lovely police officers one dashed inside to check that the relevant desk was still open, and came back saying that as I'm a foreigner (I strongly suspect he used a different word to the lady inside) they'll stay open five minutes just for me. 

Inside I was escorted to a comfy chair where a gorgeous lady with guns on her lapels (really not confidence inspiring to someone who's heard this story) took my details and gave me a form. In the end we decided to say that I had simply 'lost' my documents, as that form takes a matter of seconds to fill out and can be used immediately to apply for a new ID card. Actually filing a criminal complaint can take several weeks before you get to the point of being given useful papers, and besides, I really wasn't paying attention to the thieves so would be useless as a witness. 

All in all, visiting the police when you've been robbed is a really good idea. Not just because it's useful, but because they're all really good at cheering you up!


  1. I'm British and I had a nightmare reporting when I was pick-pocketed. A first I was told to report it on the net, which didn't work. At the first police station in Chapinero, like 53 and something I was told the guy who does the reports is on a day off, come back another day. At the next station around 40 with 11, the police were uninterested, rude and apathetic, had run out of forms and were watching you tube. I just was given a written report, what were you promised? Which station were you reporting at?

    1. Oh no - really? I'm so sorry to hear that!
      I reported the 'loss' at the DIJIN (big police building) on the 26th, just west of the Boyaca (the part of the 26th that runs between Normandía and Modelia).
      I was given a "Constancia Juramentada." It just says who I am, what I lost (and where and when) and that it's only valid applying for replacements for my ID, but that it doesn't replace my ID itself. As I said above the process for reporting a crime is lengthy and I really wanted to get my cédula sorted out as soon as possible.

      Perhaps it helped that more than half of the police officers I spoke to were women, and it was getting dark. I know I shouldn't be, but I'd probably be more helpful to a woman alone at night than a guy (and as you're anonymous I have no idea if that's relevant to you or not... sorry).