Honeymoon turns into a nightmare for Bandra couple in New Zealand

Newlyweds, robbed of almost all their valuables and travel documents in New Zealand, allege complete police apathy, gush gratitude towards Indian High Commission for immediate help

Honeymoons are meant to be cherished and enjoyed. But for childhood friends Hemant Manglani (28) and wife Bani (28), residents of Bandra (W), theirs was nothing short of traumatic. The couple had reached New Zealand for the home stretch of their 33-day honeymoon, where they were supposed to spend 13 days, but they were forced to cut short their trip and return to India, losing their pre-paid travel arrangements, not to mention their belongings.

How it happened

After arriving in Auckland on March 25, the car the two had been travelling in to move from city to city was stolen around 8.10 pm on March 26, and with it went most of their valuables, including phones, documents, passports and a lot of their luggage, at a popular mud bath in Rotorua.

They had arrived at the mud bath site around 6 pm and parked their car in the resort's parking lot. "Before entering the mud bath, the staff provides everyone with the exact same black plastic container to keep their valuables in, and advises the tourists to 'keep an eye' on their containers," wrote Hemant in an online post.

"After putting all our belongings into the container, we realised that since the location didn't have any lockers for us to store our valuables — including both our iPhones, passports, wallets and wedding rings — we thought it would be wiser to safely lock all our valuables in the car." This turned out to be their biggest mistake.

The car already had three of the couple's bags on the back seat because the boot only had space for two bags. Around 9 pm, when they were walking back to the car, Bani noticed a window of their car smashed and their belongings missing.

No empathy from cops

When the two ran back inside to notify the spa staff, the latter allegedly said they had noticed the break-in at 8.10 pm and called the police. When asked why no one had showed up yet, they were allegedly told that the NZ police had deemed the situation as one, which is not an emergency.

Repeated calls and even going to the police station late in the night yielded no different result.

The last straw

The same night, they decided to track the robbers. To their shock, their location showed the thieves were a mere five minutes away from the hotel the couple was staying at. When they called the police again with this information, they were once again told that theirs was not an emergency.

Speaking to mid-day, Bani said, "We were on a 34-day honeymoon. We cut the trip short because we had lost faith in the authorities and were too shaken up to continue the trip." Hemant said although there was "no hint of racism", there was definitely "a lack of empathy and a beyond-casual approach to the matter".

"We returned on March 29 after getting in touch with the Indian High Commission via Twitter," said Hemant. "Officials there gave my wife her emergency passport in less than 30 minutes and booked our flight tickets. Our belief in our country coming to our rescue has been reinstated, even though our sense of security has been shaken."

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