Sunday 30 September 2012

How to find your stolen car in Italy

What I am about to tell you is all true. It will seem far fetched considering what you have read in past posts, but I can assure you that as unbelievable as it sounds, it is all true.

We had just managed to get bel bambino to sleep, it was Monday evening about 9pm and we were still in hospital. We had had a bad day since we had been told that we could go home on Monday (which turned into Tuesday which turned into Wednesday) and here we were still in hospital. Bel marito had left our car parked in the hospital car park and to save a few euros overnight he moved it into the street which was free to park in after 8pm.

The next morning, nice and early bel marito went outside to move the car back into the car park only to find that it wasn't there. He was in shock, he was angry and a man came up to him to ask what the problem was. He explained that the car had been here but someone had obviously stolen it. The man asked for bel marito's phone number and said he would see if he could find it.

Bel marito came back to the hospital furious as this was the last thing we needed. We were due to leave hospital the next day but how could we leave with no car? (ok, well I had to leave in an ambulance since I am immobile but bel bambino and bella bambina had to go in the car.) He started making phone calls, not to the police but to friends and relatives who may be able to help. You readers are probably like me, ignorant when it comes to stolen cars in Cosenza (not sure about the rest of the country.) Let me tell you how things work.

Many, many cars especially the Fiat Panda and Punto are stolen since they are common and easy to break into (we have a Panda.) The cars are stolen by gypsies or Italian thugs but normally gypsies. They then get into contact with you and tell you how much money they want in return for the car. If you accept the request and pay them then a time and place is arranged. You give a third party the money and then go to the pick up point and find your car waiting for you. If you refuse to pay them you will never see your car again and they apparently break it up and sell it for parts.

If you are an ignorant, stubborn foreigner like me, you will be asking yourselves - why not go to the carabinieri? Report the car stolen, tell them of the pick up point and get them to go with you undercover. Get them to question the third person who takes the money and make some arrests! No. No such luck since cars are stolen all the time and obviously - according to me - there is someone on the inside, a carabinieri or someone involved.

The man who had asked for bel marito's phone number is an example of the third party. In our case he never called back since he probably didn't know who had stolen the car. Bel marito left us in the hospital to go and report the car stolen since we had to be covered incase the car had been used in a robbery or something. When he finally made it to the carabinieri (he was on foot after all) he was told he had to come back because the person in charge of this issue was out. You would think any police officer could file a missing car report but no such luck. The morning was spent making a million calls and finally our sister in laws sisters friends boyfriend knew someone who knew someone who knew who had stolen our car.

Bel marito never spoke to this third party. Our sister in law dealt with the sisters friend as no one can know who the third party or who the thieves are. They told us how much they wanted, not a small sum by any means and at first after weighing up the pros and cons we denied the offer saying it was too much. We could have gone via our insurance but the payout on the car would be next to nothing, the money would take time to come and we would have no car the next day to leave the hospital. Also our mother in law will take our car when we move to Australia so in the long run it would cost less to pay the thieves rather than take a small payout from the insurance company and have to buy a new car.

More phone calls were made and finally a price was agreed upon. We were told the car was in perfect condition and we had to cancel the police report. The police report!? How did the thieves know that bel marito's parents had filed the report on our behalf? I think they knew because they have someone on the inside who tells them this - what other explanation can you think of? Now all we had to do was wait for the pick up point to be confirmed. We had given our sister in law the money to give to the girl who would give it to who knows who...and once the money was in their hands the pick up point was arranged.

Bel marito, his brother and wife at 8.30pm drove to the pick up point. There the car was, on the side of the road in front of a factory in a not exactly deserted but not very busy road. It was not in perfect condition so after bel marito had made the call to the police saying we had found it, it was taken to a mechanic.

The story ends well enough I guess. We got the car back even if I don't agree with paying the thieves at all. Had we not been in the hospital and desperate for a car we would have not paid...but....oh well...we got the car back.


Carolina said... if you hadn't been through enough!

Anonymous said...

Wow...the dark side of "la dolce vita" that we never hear about. Maybe I'll just keep Italy as a visiting destination rather than moving there.

Canedolia said...

It's really sad that people who do such despicable things are left to have such power and I'm so sorry this happened to you. But right now, you have other battles to fight - hope you are all recovering steadily. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I would like only to say that such kind of things are typical of the south of Italy. I'm 44 years old, I'm from Genoa even if I spent the last 17 years in Milan and I've never heard a thing like that here in the north.
This is not politicly correct but south of Italy is simply a different country, I could not live there.
Good look to you and I hope you could go back ASAP to Australia.

Aloma said...

How are you doing? Getting worried - no updates for 3 weeks

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Hi Carolina,
It was just the icing on the cake really...

Hi Anonymous,
I'd never heard let alone experienced it before either!

Hi Canedolia,

Hi Anonymous,
Typical only in Cosenza in the past few years because the place is full of gypsies which weren't here before, or not as many of them.

Hi Aloma,
We are all going better, bit slack on the blogging with rehab and all!