Forum Rocket Italian Italian Culture and Travel How to ask for a uniformed policeman

How to ask for a uniformed policeman



Have read again today about a scam in Rome.  A plain clothes person claimes to be poice, investigating a robbery or something.  They demand to see your passport and other papers.  How can I demand to see a uniformed pliceman.  I could just yell for help and scream thief in Italian!
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi David,

You could ask for their badge, but this doesn't guarantee security as many of such scammers are good at faking badges.
Screaming thief is not advisable either, because even if the situation may seem dodgy, sometimes it's a real policeman you have in front of you. When I was a commuter, I once witnessed a couple of them asking a plethora of questions to a guy next to me on the platform. This out of nowhere. Question asked, answers given and they were gone. I distinctly remember the day my mum was approached by what looked like a common passerby on the street. He had flashed a badge, asking for a receipt (we had just left a shop - you can get a fine in case the sales receipt has not been printed). This is to tell that some cases are legit and you certainly wouldn't want to argue with a public officer!

If you refuse to show your ID's, however, a real policeman will certainly take you to the nearest police station. This is because not showing your ID to a public officer who demands you to is a violation of the Italian law. The problem is, it doesn't really matter if you tell them you're going to show your documents only if they escort you to the nearest station, the law says you have to show them as soon as you're asked to!

What would be advisable is... tell them you're not carrying your ID with you. They can't search for them, and the law protects you in that in Italy it's not mandatory to carry an ID (exception is the driver's licence in case you're driving). If you say you don't have them, eg. left them at the hotel or something, you're not refusing to show them so you're not committing any crime. You commit the crime only if you, either orally or in writing, refuse to give out personal details. You see, it's tricky.

Either way, here's a few things you can say:
Potrei vedere il suo distintivo? (this asks them for their badge - unless you're sure you can distinguish between a fake and authentic badge, it's better to stick to another question)
Potrei parlare con un suo collega in divisa? (if you want to talk to a uniformed policeman)
Ho lasciato i documenti in hotel (I left my ID's at the hotel)
Non ho i documenti con me (I don't have my ID's with me)
"Documenti" is a general noun used for all kinds of ID. More precisely:
La carta d'identità = the ID
La patente = the driver's licence
Il passaporto = the passport
You can replace "i documenti" with either of these.

If something is not clear, don't hesitate to ask :)



Thank you, this way listed as one of the top scams in Italy.  You have given me a safe answer to give.  

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