Crime watch

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The Independent Travel
YVONNE CRABTREE, of Bristol, reports 'a situation of lawlessness' in Poland, particularly in Warsaw. 'We had been warned about Warsaw Central railway station. However, we were still unprepared for what befell us.'

Among the 'fairly chaotic' conditions as the train arrived, a man came between Ms Crabtree and her friend, pretending he did not know where he was going in the melee. 'In the confusion my friend's bum bag was unclipped from her waist, and pounds 300 and her passport were stolen. We learnt later that this is a daily occurrence at Warsaw Central.'

Almost as distressing was the lack of interest in the crime shown by the police. 'They expressed the view that 'Westerners must expect this as you have plenty of money' . ' The British Consulate was also 'unhelpful'.

Anthony Bradbury, of Essex, has just returned from St Petersburg, where he was mugged by three youths within 100 yards of the Hotel Pulkovskya in Victory Square. 'My error was to dress too smartly (blazer and tie) and to use an underpass. Still, I have learnt for next time and still enjoyed St Petersburg.'

Sheila Mason, of Ramsey, was on a birdwatching holiday to The Gambia. 'We were mugged on a busy road in the mangrove swamps just outside the capital, Banjul, at a site famed for birdwatching. Three young men with long knives and clubs attacked us at midday during a pause in the traffic - they cut off my money belt and removed my binoculars. As by then I was on the ground with knives against my neck and stomach, my husband reluctantly handed over our rucksack containing our cameras and bird identification book. The men then ran off.'

Mrs Mason and her husband spent four hours in the police station trying to get the official report needed for insurance purposes. 'The place was stiflingly hot and crowded and we were distressed and clearly shocked. We were not even offered a glass of water. Time was spent waiting for the police to have their boots cleaned by the shoeshine boy - and there were further delays while they bought oranges, chose which tea towels to buy from passing Rastafarians and finally while they drank coffee. In the end I finished typing our report myself just to get away. Some of the police were unnecessarily offensive, calling us old colonialists and sneering at our discomfort.'