Dear Sir

Last week I was in Majorca for the first time helping a friend with a property transaction.
Unfortunately my friend was taken seriously ill on arrival and spent the entire time in the hospital at Son Dureta.
I was thus left on my own in a strange flat without transport with a friend in hospital and various administrative matters to deal with. On the night of April 21 I was accosted by a man outside the flat and robbed of my wallet containing about £150, my bank cards and personal papers.

I gave chase but as a near-pensioner I was unable to keep up with the youthful pickpocket who duly escaped in a waiting red car.
Having successfully dealt with the emergency services when my friend collapsed, I was able to contact the police immediately.
I only speak a very little Spanish but I was able to tell the 112 operator what happened and give a brief description of the suspect.
I was told to make a formal report to the local Guardia Civil office after 9am the following morning.
Now as a seasoned traveller, I know that pickpockets invariably discard stolen wallets after removing cash and bank cards.
After searching the area on foot, I thought I would help the police by writing out a brief description of the crime and the suspect in simple English together with my name, address and contact numbers.

My plan was to deliver the details overnight so the police could get on the case first thing in the morning. I managed to find the police office on foot at 1.30 am but, presumably for security reasons, there was no letter box so I wedged my note addressed to the Guardia Civil in the entry phone where it would be clearly seen by anyone entering the building the next morning. The following day I went to the office where I found a single uniformed policeman on duty.

I started to explain my situation but the man brushed aside my broken Spanish and refused to speak to me. I discovered that he was unwilling to discuss anything with me without a translator being present.

I told him I wanted to report a crime but he continued to be totally disinterested and denied all knowledge of my overnight note.
In vain I repeatedly asked where I should go to report the crime. Eventually I persuaded him to point out the local tourist office on a map and I went there.

The lady there initially told me to go to the Guardia Civil office where I had wasted my time earlier.
She then made a telephone call and told me I had to go to the Guardia Civil office in Palmanova where there was an English-Spanish interpreter. At my request she wrote down the address for me. I duly caught the bus to Estacion Palmanova (en route to visit my friend in hospital) and was pleased to find the GC building just a few minutes' walk away. At last, I thought, I would be able to report my crime and discover if my wallet had been handed in. But no. The desk officer told me I needed a translator. He absolutely denied there was a resident interpeter at the station. He suggested I should go to the police HQ in Palma or ask the porter in my building to phone the GC for me. Somewhat baffled, I went on my way to Son Dureta, returning in the early evening by which time the porter had gone home. The following morning I made contact with him and he telephoned the police in my presence. No problem, he was told, there was an interpeter on the premises every day from 9am till 3pm at.... yes, you, guessed it....Palmanova Guardia Civil. But of course, he warned me, there was only one interpreter and sometimes he had to take time off for lunch, coffee breaks, etc. I decided to go to the hospital in the morning and get back to Palmanova by 2pm to give the ‘intepreter' time to have lunch. The same pleasant young man was on the desk and once again he denied all knowledge of an interpreter. He also claimed he could not take details of the crime because it had to be reported in Paguera! Luckily, a civilian visitor to the office heard our conversation and offered to help. He spoke enough English to ensure there was no misunderstanding on either side.

The desk officer absolutely insisted there was not, and never had been, an intepreter there but he did at least look in a drawer to see if he had my wallet.

He then helpfully suggested I should try the police station in Santa Ponca to see if they had it there. By this time I had seen enough of Majorcan police stations and I was due to collect my sick friend from hospital the following morning to fly back to UK.

Two-and-a-half days after the robbery, I had been unable even to report the crime and I still don't know if my wallet has been recovered. I read in the Daily Bullletin that a special squad of tourist police is being set up.

Too late to help me, but thank God, I say, because the existing system is not just useless... it is worse than useless because it sends already traumatised victims on fruitless wild goose chases and makes absolutely no attempt to deter criminals.

Everywhere I went I was told “there is no crime in Paguera”. I think I now know why!

Geoffrey Cooper
Stratford St Mary, Suffolk.

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