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Here's How To Report Something Lost or Stolen to the Police

Spoiler: it's not that hard.
2021-01-18 12:00:00
From the directly and minutely useful to information on living your best self in the world. How To is our regular column on how to accomplish things in the city.

So you come out of your apartment early in the morning, lock keys already in hand and you find out your bike isn't where you normally left it. You check around the corner. You check in the underground garage. You ask the bao'an if they moved it. Nothing. It's gone.


Shanghai is pretty safe, but there are still a ton of common scams and minor theft you might fall prey to, or you may just leave a bag unattended one time, or you may just lose your phone at some point during a big night out. It happens. And you might want to report it to the police. Luckily, it's pretty easy.

Gather As Much Info As You Can

Police are going to need somewhere to start, so it's a good idea to get your basic facts down: what was lost, where, and when did it happen. Where and when you think your item was lost/taken is important, because the police's first step is probably to look at security footage.

We spoke to someone who left their phone in a cab; officers at their local police station were able to coordinate with the bao'ans in the lane they were dropped off at to check the security footage, track a license plate, and get the phone back.

If you are in a large public place like a mall or a sports complex, the facility's bao'an is also a good stop for security footage. The simpler you make it for the police officers to follow, the better your experience will be.

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Find the Nearest Police Office

Your next step is to find the nearest police office to where the incident took place.

You're looking for a 派出所 (pai chu suo) in your maps app.

If you're in doubt (perhaps you don't know where exactly the thing was lost), just go to the police station where you're registered. The staff's English ability varies, but it's usually good enough to understand the basics of the situation. "Help. My bike was stolen." The police make you fill out some form, and will then open a case.

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Wait and Hope

Police aren't always effective, especially with petty crime. But even if you don't have hopes of recovering a lost or stolen item, it might be necessary to report it anyway in some instances.

If you lose a passport, for example, consulates require you to officially report the passport as lost in order to apply for a new passport.

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What If It's An Emergency?

For more urgent situations, call the police at 110. Commit it to memory. Yao yao ling, one one zero, 1-1-0.

When you call 110, you'll get transferred to an English translator to report the crime. There’s an app for traffic accidents (shanghai jiao jing, 上海交警APP) but for other minor crimes, your best bet is still to physically visit the Public Security Bureau branch nearest to the incident.

If you (or a friend) speak decent Chinese, the Shanghai police have a number (12110) that you can text to report a crime.

Recently, reporting a crime at the station has been digitized for people with Chinese ID cards. Police stations in Xuhui District now have digital kiosks to input details and file a report. It's like ordering a cheeseburger at Mcdonald's except for justice.

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This How-To guide is work in progress, we are constantly updating it as we receive new information. We rely on readers like you (yes YOU). If you find this guide useful please help us improve it by adding comments in each step or by clicking the "Verify" link if you find the information provided to be correct.