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Robbery in China

Updated on June 18, 2010

Continuing adventures in China.

What a day I had. A visit to the PSB re my resident permit, and a shopping expedition followed by a funny bus ride home communicating with a group of elderly Chinese women.

"How old are you?" asked the Chinese girl on the bus. "21" I said. There was much confusion, looking and laughing until she said "You are making a joke?" I nodded and all the bus passengers laughed.

Some of the foreign teachers went out to dinner at a restaurant.It had been a pleasant night out - just five "foreign" teachers dining at a Thai Restaurant a short distance from the main street, Jiefung Lu. We'd paid the bill, and slowly walked to Jiefung Lu to catch the bus home. The bus stop is near my favourite chemist shop, and I said I'd pop in and get some shower gel. I marched in to where I new the product was on display, with one of my friends ahead of me and the other behind.

I saw as I reached the display that the friend who was last in was stopped by staff for some reason, but I thought little of it. My initial thought was she'd been approached by someone in the store about a promotion, or she'd won something (which she did initially until she realised what had happened).

I took my purchases to the cashier, paid, and then looked for my friend. She was gone. I went to the back of the store, assuming that she'd gone right in, but soon we were very concerned. She had disappeared. We did another search, and there was still no sign of her.

Diving into my bag I grabbed my cellphone and rang her. Apparently as she'd entered the store, someone had seen a man taking her purse from her bag. She'd run after him, but in the crowded dark back street had lost sight of him. Her money, around 700 Yuan, credit cards, etc had gone.

This is quite a challenge, in a country where one cannot speak the language, but a young high school student had seen it all, and indeed was the one who alerted our friend, and helped us call the police. I contacted the university, and our support person to provide an interpreter.

We had to go to the police station. The traffic on a Friday night in Shaoxing is nightmarish, and there we were three blonde foreigners looking for a taxi, which eventually came and one of the policeman had stayed with us to give the taxi instructions to the station.

There was the girl, and her friend, and three of us, until our interpreter arrived. We sat in the waiting area watching all sorts of police, staff and prisoners pass us. The police were jovial, and it was quite an extraordinary experience. When the interpreter arrived most went in for the interview, but the other foreign teacher and I waited and watched the comings and goings in the station.

Handcuffed young "offenders" were marched past us, the guy who clearly provides food for the prisoners came out with the near empty big food pot, excited people were interviewed, and two girls were fined for having an illegal street stall.

Soon our friend, her lovely witness and her friend, and our interpreter and a woman that we though initially was the mother of the interpreter, emerged and we all went home. (We later find that the strange woman was someone who had given directions to the interpreter - she was very strange and we couldn't understand how she managed to get into the interview room!)

My friend will now have to get new cards, her Australian driver's licence, and stop her credit cards. It will probably be weeks before she has it all restored, and she's not likely to see her money again, and not likely to get it back on insurance.

A lesson about taking care on a busy street has been learned by us all.

And we still have our sense of humour!!!!

It doesn't matter where you are, take are of your money and cards, especially in busy places.


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      Bettina 8 years ago

      Hi Di

      How I know this experience. It also happened to me in Tai'an. However my experience was not as positive as yours. I did however have class that afternoon and explained to my students what had happened. They were quite embarrassed as they felt they had "lost Face" I did have to explain to them that I didn't feel they had and that this could happen anywhere in the world.

      Take care and watch your belongings.

    • profile image

      Linda Jobson 8 years ago

      Hey Di, what an experience!! Please do take care!! Love hearing your exploits and seeing your photos. xxoo

    • Aussieteacher profile image

      Di 8 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      I was surprised how well we were helped - by the people although only one brave girl was prepared to speak with the police. The police were excellent too.

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 8 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience in China. It must be a terrible feeling when you don't speak the language. I understand that. Thanks for sharing that with me.