If you have ever had something stolen, it really makes you think twice – be more careful, change your habits, and watch your back. Walking around Quito one day, I was the victim of iPhone theft. Luckily I was able to recover the phone, but nonetheless I was extremely cautious from then on. I don’t take my phone with me to the gym, for example. I keep my purse on my lap at restaurants. Here’s how a thief stole my iPhone (again!!!) despite my careful habits…. Please share this post to let the gringo community to be on alert for this devious trick:
I was at an internet cafe on Padre Aguirre in el Centro Historico de Cuenca. I sat down to a computer near the door and sat down to blog. I placed my purse directly in front of my face, below the computer screen. No problem right?
A street vendor walks into the internet cafe. Trapitos, trapitos, a un dolarito! He was selling “trapitos” – or rags, which is rather odd for a street vendor here, but not unheard of. (I have purchased toilet paper, tooth brushes, and leggings from street vendors.) Businesses also usually tell vendors to leave if they try to sell inside of stores, restaurants, etc. I ignore him, but he shoves the rags in my face. As I have become very accustomed to ignoring street vendors, I keep ignoring him.
He finally leaves the store, and 20 seconds later I notice that my purse is open. He had shoved the rags in my face so that he could unzip my purse under the rags. My iPhone was missing. I ran out the door and down the block but he was gone.
Trying to recover the phone
I first tried the “Find My iPhone app” but it didn’t work – the phone was not connected to Wifi.
I then tried t
he bold move of calling the thief using Skype, but he didn’t pick up. I sent him a text message in Spanish, offering to buy back my own phone, no questions asked, because I had a lot of photos of sentimental value on it. No answer.
I had the shop owner call the police, who came in about 15 minutes. We circled downtown in their car for 20 minutes, looking to see if I could recognize the thief. I couldn’t describe him, except that he was 40ish, male, short, and looked dirty and unkempt (a description of many of the street vendors). No luck.
I filed an official police report, out of civic duty, but it felt like a formality with no chance or hope of recovering the phone.
I hesitated to post this. I don’t want to complain. I love Ecuador, I have lived here 2 years, and I feel that overall the city is beautiful. There is petty theft galore, but most of the time you are safe as long as you are very careful and have the right habits (NOTE to readers: Purse in the lap from now on!).