Montreal, My Wallet Is Missing: What Do I Do?

Although there are claims that Montreal is the safest city in the world and although you don't see Bucharest's pickpocket experts running around, there still is a slight possibility that your wallet gets stolen in the city. Or that you simply lose it and no kind soul is there to return it to you. 

At least that's what happened to me recently, that made me decide to share the story and give you some hints on how to handle a situation of this kind. 

It was a rainy Monday when I went downtown (Cafe Van HouttePalais des Congres) to meet someone. Once arrived, around noon, I bought a fat-free apple cranberry muffin and a latte that I went to savour at the table, located farthest from the counter. After staying there for about two hours, I went home, where I cooked and did other daily tasks. Around 4:30 p.m., when needing to go out of the house, I noticed the disappearance of my wallet. It wasn't in its usual place in my green bag, nor in my petal or polka-dot laptop bag. Initial reaction: let myself be led by instincts and went into panic mode!, a sensation that totally impeached my clear thinking. What was I going to do?!?! 

  1. First step: Regaining my senses in order to think: How could I come closer to finding out where my belongings were? Most probably, a look into my online banking account could show if and where there any were transactions, unknown by me. After, logging in, I had a surprise: five transactions on my credit account, three on my debit account at one financial institution, three at the second one. Not a slight idea how those could have appeared. After the initial scare, I proceeded to the...
  2. Second step: Contacting the financial institutions: A process that went relatively smoothly: The waiting time to get an answer was surprisingly short and the friendliness and willingness to help of the customer service representatives was pleasantly reassuring. They blocked my cards and provided me with the most valuable information: the exact time of the first transaction that wasn't made by me (12:44 p.m.). I considered this essential for my...
  3. Third step: Going to the police: where my road to disappointment and despair began. Since policemen of my imagination were those who go through wind and fire to catch thieves, rescuing damsels in distress like me at that moments, their answer "We cannot find them, we will only fill out a report", was like a punch in the face. According to them, if I wanted to(Duuuh!), it was up to me to go back to the café the following day during their open hours and ask employees for a DVD of what they previously recorded. I spent more than an hour talking to them about what happened only to receive a "report number" and the official "Info crime" standard paper with numbers to call (Banks to block my Visa and Debit cards, CapitalOne for my MasterCard, Equifax to see if someone tried to get a credit by using my identity, SAAQ, RAMQ aaand...governmental institutions). So, this leads me to the frustrating...
  4. Fourth step: Other Calls: Since the banks were already informed upon my new situation, after I left the station, I attempted to block my MasterCard, using the number provided by the police: Oh, Boy! More then 40 minutes only to spell my name: C-A-L-I-N....S-I-M-O-N-A....M-A-R-I-A, when every letter I pronounced was followed by the same question in a weird accent: "Sorry ma'am, can you reepeeet, please?", then I was transferred to someone else "who could help me out", and finally cancel my "LaBaie" card that I consistently tried to explain it doesn't exist and that, instead, I want to block my "CapitalOne" card. The whole conversation lasted one hour and 15 minutes and ended when finally they "transferred" me to someone who spoke an English, similar to what I hear on a daily basis, and whom I overly-ecstatically asked: "OMG, can you really speak English?", point at which the person hung up. I'm really sorry if she felt offended in any way, but my frustration reached a peak and my energy a bottom line. So I gave up and proceeded to check if my identity was stolen: Equifax - another struggle I wasn't ready to face, so after three useless attempts to type or spell my postal code, I hung up and decided to try again another day. It was already 8 p.m. and nobody could have helped me further. So, after arriving home, crying, trying to sleep and waking up the next morning, I proceeded to the....
  5. Fifth step: The actual call to cancel my MasterCard. After the frustration I lived the evening before, I looked up online the contact number for CapitalOne customer inquiries and was surprised to find a different one from what I had on the "Info crime" paper. I called it and immediately solved the issue, being surprised by how well I could communicate with the person on the other line. A few hours later, at around 10 a.m., when I was completely alone, I thought it was time for the....
  6. Sixth step: Calling the governmental institutions: First one: RAMQ, where the interlocutor was extremely helpful: They said they would send me per post the forms to fill out, which I would have to return together with a cheque of 25$, for each lost card (which I received after four days). "So, no other document required?" "Nope, just that". In the meantime, if I needed to use their services, they would mail the clinic a temporary replacement of the card. (Which they did for my child). Wow, my optimism was beginning to rise: At least I would have one document! Next call: SAAQ, where the estimated waiting time was supposed to be 28 minutes, leading me to postpone it for later, when I would be able to go there in person. I would be less time-consuming. So, I called the last number on my list: Service Canada, Immigration Services. After a not-so-long waiting time, I got to speak to an agent who kindly announced me they'll send me an e-mail with all the procedures I would have to follow. "Great, thanks", I said kinda' relieved, and not assuming that their email would contain only a link to a webform I had to fill out . But at that very moment, when I hung up the phone, I felt good and ready for the....
  7. Seventh step: My trip downtown (and failed attempt to catch the temporary owner of my belongings). Full of hope, I went back to the Café at Palais de Congres, where I assumed that my wallet vanished. I asked the man at the counter, his two other colleagues, but got the same disappointing answer: Nobody knew or saw anything, they don't have cameras pointing to the counter or the direction of the table where I sat. But the trash? They empty it (almost) every hour, nobody found documents in it. Next, I went to the security in charge of the whole building: same answer - the coffee place is relatively new so there aren't any cameras installed yet. My only choice was to leave my phone number so they would contact me in case my documents were found in any garbage can around. Two weeks after the incident, still no call.
  8. Eighth step: Re-attempting to contact the bank in order to get an approximate location of the transactions. Well, this was successful! I knew from my initial RBC account statement that most of the transactions were made at gas stations: Ultramar and Petro Canada, but after talking to the bank representatives again, I managed to get the exact time of each transaction and a code of the gas stations which helped me locate them on the map. The second phone call, with TD customer service, was even more of a success: I got the postal code of the stations and of a restaurant nearby (where they bought something for 6$)! After putting everything together, I noticed that all the transactions were made in a small perimeter, along the Papineau Boulevard (Petro Canada - Papineau corner with Villeray, Ultramar - Papineau corner with Saint Zootique E, Jean Coutu - Papineau corner with Rue Belanger, and finally, a small restaurant, La Belle Bleue - three times - Papineau corner with Jean Talon E).
    All between 12:44 p.m. and 4:54 p.m., when, following the second attempt at the same Ultramar location, the card was finally rejected. My mental map led my to the....
  9. Ninth step: Returning to the police in order to share my conclusions. Proud of my finding, my mental map and film of the events, I was really confident that the police would catch the thief and return my documents. So I entered the police station, presented myself to the lady in front of me, explained her my situation and showed her my list of places with their exact address. Her answer was cold and resembled to Rhett Butler's: she didn't give a damn: "It's not our business to find you you documents, the bank has to investigate the case and eventually, reimburse you". "But my documents?", I asked, showing a mild optimism. "You will have to do them again", was her immediate response.
    ....I left the station determined to proceed to the....
  10. Tenth step: Proceeding to the investigation on my own. I took my car and went to follow the footsteps of my thieves.  First stop was the restaurant, a small one, maybe something that seemed to be known and appreciated in the area.

    La Belle Bleue - Papineau - Jean Talon E I went to the waiter to explain my problem, but, of course he didn't have access to the camera and said the owner would call me. Two weeks passed, no call. After that, I went two intersections further to Ultramar.

    Ultramar - Papineau - Saint Zootique

Here, the lady at the cash said: "That rings a bell", when I specified the time and amount. After all, that was the place where the card was rejected at its second attempt of use. "Can I see the tape?", I dared to ask. Well, I couldn't, even though I showed her the police report. Because they only show it to the police. All she could do to help was to make a copy of the report and be careful the next time she saw the respective person on the tape. But still, unwillingly she gave me some information: They bought cigarettes, beer and milk. For 69.84$. Knowing this, I left, stopping by the Jean Coutu a bit further, where I knew of a transaction of  about 21$. The information I got replaced the idea of "they" with "a man in his fifties who bought a raincoat and three bars of chocolate". Odd, I thought to myself, a man in his fifties?!?!? How come? But it was all I managed to find out, so I had to leave.
...And stopped by Petro Canada further on Papineau. There, I got NOTHING. Absolutely no info. Only a "We are only allowed to the tape to the police",  despite the report I was holding in my hand, willing to show.

Petro Canada - Papineau - Villeray

...With all that information, I went back to the police station, at a time when I was told that the agent who wrote and signed my report will be there. I gave him all the hints, but got this from him: "We will go in three places to check, we can't do more, if we find something, we'll contact you". I went home, continued my process of obtaining the IDs and slightly hoped. But nothing since. I guess that's it.

The bank reimbursed me entirely, I got my all my cards mailed back and even obtained new Metro&Moi or Costco cards. 

The only piece of ID in my hand at this point is my driving licence, which was mailed to me within four days following my demand at their Henri Bourassa main edifice.

In conclusion, a lost or stolen wallet is invariably equivalent to a long and tiring process of redoing all your documents. This, in case no one finds it by mistake and decides to return it or to willingly hand it to the police. 

The medicare card and driving licence are the easiest to obtain and you can apply for them together. While the actual card is sent to you, they give you a temporary paper in order to identify yourself when in need.

P.S. Keep safe!


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