There are signs at various locales throughout the country that depict an ostrich with its head in the sand. Emblazoned over the image are the words “Low Crime doesn’t mean No Crime.”
I generally snicker at these. Singapore is the kind of country where I’ve seen people chope a table with a cell phone and then walk off to get their food. Where I don’t think twice about leaving my purse in a shopping cart and wandering a few feet away. Where the theft of a bike was turned into a giant billboard for almost a month.
Today I’m laughing a little less.
Up front–I’m fine, everyone is fine, not that big a deal.
Elanor’s pre-school had a little party for National Day today (it’s technically tomorrow, Tuesday Aug 8th). We moms were waiting outside when the teacher came out and invited us to join in.
A teacher looked at my purse and asked if it was ringing. Oh, yeah, that IS my ringtone, isn’t it. Pregnancy has done nothing to increase my awareness of when my phone is ringing, apparently. I was baffled to see I’d missed multiple calls from Ravi.
Why on EARTH would Ravi call me in the middle of the day, much less multiple times? I immediately worried that there had been a catastrophe of some kind (layoff, family illness, something). I stepped away from the chaos of a class party to the hallway. Unfortunately they chose this moment to hand out the invoices for January’s Nursery 2 spots. Okay, two things I really kind of need to be paying attention to.
“Is everything okay?” I asked the second Ravi picked up the phone, while straining to hear something about deposits and maybe uniforms.
“Didn’t you get the texts?” he asks brusquely?
“Huh?” I glance at my phone…missed texts…several of them. “Is everyone okay?”
“B’s wallet was stolen,” Ravi tells me. “Including her key.”
B’s wallet was stolen. Along with her work permit, EZ LINK, money, elevator access pass and front door to the apartment key.
It’s worth noting that a work permit for an FDW has their work/home address on it.
It is also important to share here that since we dont’ have a car, I am far more likely to just walk out of my apartment without a key. I don’t lock the door when there are people home, and I don’t need the elevator access card to go down to the first floor. Which is how I often have no clue as to the presence (or lack) of keys until I’m trying to come up in the elevator on my own and find out whether or not I have them. It is entirely reasonable that at that moment Ravi was equally worried about B and whether we were also trapped out of the home.
I check my purse and miracle of miracles, this is the ONE day I do actually have keys.
Secure in the knowledge that I can at least get into our apartment, Ravi dumps handling the theft into my cupcake frosting smeared lap.
I go and get B, who is understandably upset. The incident happened at the mall near our home, Great World City, and she was waiting there for me. She’d asked the info desk to let her see the tape so she could see who’d stolen the wallet, but they’d refused.
I was far more focused on the practical. Wallet? Gone forever, as was the cash and the MRT card. But a police report was most likely going to be necessary to get a replacement work permit for B, which was a high priority. As was changing the locks on our front door–the front door that the thief had an address for as well as an elevator access card and a key to walk right in.
It’s funny that I went from my Singapore is a safe place mentality (which it is) to my reflexive “they’re gonna steal mah STUFF” American mentality in seconds, and handled it as I would if it had happened in the US.
Except I had no idea how to call the police–expat advice moment–Learn your local police numbers and not just the emergency one. 999 is all well and good, but a stolen wallet is not an emergency. At which point I was at a loss. I’ve never seen a police station here, nor did I know my district, or a non-emergency number. The information desk gave me the non-emergency general number, and the helpful person on that line gave me a URL to file the police report.
I then get on the horn with my realtor, as I have no idea if I even CAN get the locks changed on my apartment or what the procedure is. Luckily there isn’t one beyond informing them that I was changing the locks and why. This conversation lasts the walk home.
I check with security and alert them that B’s wallet and keys were stolen and request a new elevator access pass. They also pass along the number of a locksmith.
We get upstairs and the door is still locked. I do a quick walk through and see the easily stolen objects of value (ie laptops, dvd players, etc) are present and accounted for. Okay, worry #1 down. I call the locksmith, who shows up just as I’m finishing the police report on B’s behalf (this being Singapore, it’s easiest if I file it for her). 10 minutes later, our front door’s lock is changed.
Tonight we’ll print the paperwork to replace the work permit and B will go deal with that on Wednesday.
Not quite how I’d planned to spend my day, a lot of worry for poor B, and some chunk of money later…it’s all better.
But for my fellow expats, please allow my story to show that they’re not kidding when they say “Low Crime doesn’t mean NO Crime.”
I wonder if this will merit a month-long sandwich board of its own? More or less exciting and newsworthy than a stolen bike?