Prague’s violent crime ratio is usually low, but petty crime like pick-pocketing and car theft are frequent. In this article you will find useful hints on what to do in the unlikely event that you fall victim to, or are involved in, a crime. Firstly, you should inform any police officer on the street or report the crime by phone. If you tell the police officer on the street, they will be probably be a member of the municipal police who handle only minor infractions such as traffic violations, but the municipal police officer is obliged to direct you to the nearest police station, where you can file a report. Crime must be reported in person at the police station of the district in which the crime happened.
The police are obliged by Czech law to provide you with a translator if you cannot speak Czech, but at most stations you will end up waiting while they search for one, and it can literally take hours. After the report has been filed, you will be given a Police Report Crime Number. For crimes specifically involving stolen property such as passports and wallets, you’ll need to go to the Lesser Town police station at Vlašská 3. They are open 24 hours and have English-speaking officers on hand. If you are concerned about being treated well, you have the right to be accompanied by your lawyer. You can request that you be notified of any actions taken by the police for up to one month after the occurrence of the crime.
Upon investigating the alleged crime, the police may decide that criminal prosecution is warranted. According to Czech law, police, under the supervision of the state attorney, will decide whether or not a case will be brought to court. The state attorney subsequently prosecutes the matter in court against the defendant. The victim of a crime may make a claim for compensation as part of the criminal proceedings; depending on the nature of the claim, you might wish to seek the services of a lawyer experienced in similar cases. It is advisable to make the compensatory claim to the police as soon as possible, since later you may only be able to seek damages in a separate civil court action. Civil court claims compensations must be lodged in a set timeframe, usually no later than one to a maximum of five years.