SINGAPORE - A shopping trip to Italy turned into a nightmare for a mother and daughter duo when their luggage containing $15,000 worth of new designer shoes, bags and clothing was stolen from their tour bus.
It was the pair's first trip in two years. They discovered the theft on Saturday evening (Dec 18).
"We reached our hotel in Naples after dinner and were about to check in. It was only when the cargo hold of the bus was unloaded that we discovered that the bags were missing," said Madam Yeo, 50, who declined to give her full name.
Eight pieces of luggage belonging to 12 people on a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) tour operated by Singapore-based agency EU Holidays were stolen from the cargo hold of the bus.
Madam Yeo's daughter, 19, who did not want to be named, said the theft likely took place while the tour group was having dinner.
She said: "The last time we saw our bags was when we departed from Assisi in the morning... The driver stopped at a few petrol stations along the way so that he could refuel and we could use the restrooms. We then had dinner before reaching our hotel."
Another victim, Ms Irene Chye, 57, lamented the inconvenience caused, and said the situation could have been avoided.
She added: "My clothes and medication are all gone, and it's worse because of the cold weather. I think the bus driver should have been more careful to keep an eye on the bus, as the safety of our luggage was entrusted to him."
According to Shin Min Daily News, EU Holidays director Wong Yew Hoong said his company would assist the travellers in making claims against their travel insurance policies. Mr Wong added that the bus operator had also agreed to bear a portion of the loss.
Madam Yeo said this was the first time she had experienced such an incident, adding: "The bus companies should take more precaution on this. I was looking forward to this trip after not having travelled for two years.
"Even though I bought travel insurance, I'll still be losing money — I can claim up to $500 for each item, and some of the bags and shoes I bought cost a few thousand."
An IT professional who wanted to be known only as Mr Chen had one piece of luggage stolen. He was travelling with his family of five.
He praised their tour guide for doing his best to help those affected by the theft.
"He took us to the police station in Naples that same evening so we could report the theft and then took us out the next day to replace our essential items," he said.
The group is currently in Rome, and will return to Singapore on Thursday (Dec 23).
Madam Yeo said she was determined to make the most of the rest of the trip.
She said: "Even though I was still in a state of shock, having lost all of my shopping and my belongings, I followed the rest of the group the next day when they visited the island of Capri.
"It's not like staying in my hotel room will help the situation, so I might as well make the best of what time I still have here."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.