As soon as I have realized that I just had my laptop stolen by a hitch-hiker, I drove back to the area where I dropped her off and desperately cruised around to see if I can spot her somewhere. It was clear that she is in no way related to this area. This wasn’t her destination, this was simply where we were at the time she made successful pull and moved my laptop from the rear seat into her bag. Once the laptop was in her bag, she obviously needed to get off the car immediately to make sure she’s gone before I can notice anything. I tried to see if I can spot her but it didn’t work. After such successful pull, she had likely got into first available cab and had herself driven away – anywhere but here. Trying to find her now was futile. Next stop – reporting this crime to the Dominican Republic police.
They have two types of police in the Dominican Republic – one is National Police (Policia Nacional) which deals with all internal affairs involving local Dominicans and then there is Politur which is the police especially dedicated to serving the tourists. Politur officers speak at least one foreign language to make it easier for foreigners to report crime, because Policia Nacional officers only speak Spanish so as a foreigner, unless you can speak it too, you won’t get very far. Politur was the response of the Dominican government to attract more tourists and give an impression that Dominican Republic has it taken care of so foreigners can feel safe. Unfortunately, existence of Politur changes nothing on the fact that so many Dominicans are criminals who don’t hesitate to steal from you even if you are helping them.
I was in Santo Domingo – capital city of the Dominican Republic. I drove up and down the main highway that goes across the city to see if I can either spot a Politur officer or their office but no luck. I tried to ask several people but everyone was completely useless. After more than an hour spent trying to report the crime to the Politur I eventually gave in and headed for the Policia Nacional head office which had a sign pointing towards it from the main highway.
It was already almost midnight. I parked my rental car just outside of the National Police headquarters where an armed officer guarded the gate. I pointed in to let him know that I need to see the officer inside to report the crime. There were three officers in main hall but none of them spoke English. One of them asked me if I had “passporte” which I could make out despite my lack of Spanish skills so I headed back to the car to get it, since I didn’t have it on me.
As I was coming back with my passport, I was taken by one of the officers to another office in a small building standing separately from main palace. Two men were inside and as they found out I couldn’t speak any Spanish, they called upon their colleague from the room next door. I thought that since I was taken to this building and since they called an officer from another room that it was because he could speak English, but I was wrong.
As a foreigner, reporting crime to the National Police in the Dominican Republic is as difficult as rumors have it. There is little help from their part and you are constantly subjected to jokes on your behalf. They say things they know you can’t understand and have a good laugh clearly showing that they are laughing at you and you can’t do nothing about it. But at least I was reporting it.
I wrote on a piece of paper information that was in what I believed a universally understandable language. I used sign language to make it clear that it’s a laptop I’m talking about and that it was stolen by a hitch-hiker. I wrote serial number on the sheet, wrote where I picked said hitch-hiker up and where I dropped her off. I have included the name and model of stolen laptop, showed them what color it was by pointing at the object that was plain white and as I was trying to describe what a woman who stole it looked like, the police report was ready and was being printed out.
Obviously, National Police of the Dominican Republic knew they were gonna do absolutely nothing about this crime. I was there, so they filed a report, but they showed me clearly that once filed, it will be put on a shelf and never looked at or dealt with. They never wanted to know what the thief looked like or where I picked her up or dropped her off (this information, although provided was not added on the report – too much to type, you know).
All in all, even though National Police accepted me as a foreigner to report a crime with them, they did not show any intention to do anything about it and made me feel that I can forget about ever getting my laptop back. They would simply not do anything about it. Dominican Republic is the country full of thieves from the bottom of the barrel. Thieves who have no troubles stealing from people who help them out. And the police will do nothing about it, not even an attempt to make it look like they would try. What a country…
The serial number that appears on the report is incorrect. I had the original receipt from Future Shop where I bought the laptop in August of 2009 with me as I carry those in case there is a warranty claim and that’s the number that accompanied the brand and model names on the receipt. As I found out upon my return back home, this is not the serial number, but at the time it was the only number I had, since actual unit was stolen so I wasn’t able to just flip it up and look up the serial number that’s on it. What kind of random numbers Future Shop adds on their receipts is a mystery to me.
I was hoping there would be some rapid response from the police as I had reported the crime shortly after it was committed but this was the Dominican Republic I was in. Not only was there no interest from the police to attempt to do anything about tracing down the thief, they acted like nothing will ever get done about it now or in the future. I was defeated. Completely drained of all hope that there is some good in the Dominican Republic, I was faced with 7 more torturous days to spend in that country as my flight back to Canada where I could report the crime to actual police was not schedule until Thursday next week. I had the worst week of my life ahead of me and I had to spend it in a country that put me into this torturous position. And this was supposed to be a vacation for me where I was meant to recharge and unwind.