What To Do If You Get Pick-pocketed From Someone Who Has Been There

Kara Beemer
June 22, 2018

It had been an amazing weekend. A group of friends and I went to Milan, Italy and walked around the city, making sure to stop at the best restaurants and gelato stands. We took a day trip to Lake Como by train, which was breathtakingly gorgeous and absolutely awe-inspiring; I’d go as far as to say it is my favorite place I’ve ever been. We were so sad to leave Italy and all its history and good food, but reality called so we headed back to Barcelona. We spent a few hours resting and doing homework until my roommates and I decided to go to McDonald’s to have a quick dinner before karaoke night at our favorite bar. All five of us were sitting at a high-top table in the downstairs cafeteria part of the restaurant when a strange man approached our table and mumbled to us in another language. He was asking for our food and gesturing like he wanted to put it on this piece of paper he was holding over our table. We wanted him to go away and finally he left slowly and went up the staircase nearest to our table that was blocked by chairs. We all thought it was odd but went on with our dinner. About 3 or 4 minutes later I reached for my phone next to my tray – but it wasn’t there. I searched on the tray, under it, in my wallet, on the ground but it was gone. I put 2 + 2 together and realized that that lowlife man had placed his paper over my phone and grabbed it underneath. In the past few days since, I have gone through nearly every possible emotion, and here is my advice for anyone who unfortunately has to go through the same thing.

IN GENERAL: Keep all your belongings closed and in your line of vision at ALL TIMES. I carry a backpack to and from class and when I go on day trips, which can be risky. However, I tie the two zippers together with a hair tie to make it a little more difficult for a thief to get into it, and easier for me to feel or hear what is happening and catch them in the act. Also, I never carry my wallet inside my backpack. I bought a sizable wristlet that I carry practically 24/7 that fits my money, cards, passport, phone, and even a portable phone charger. Also, if your phone is lost or stolen, the police will need your IMEI number. This is pretty much only found in your settings or on the packaging of your device. So, write it down somewhere just in case. And learn from me: NEVER LEAVE YOUR PHONE OUT ON A RESTAURANT TABLE!

STEP 1: Try to remain calm (this is easier said than done). When I realized my phone was missing I freaked out right away. I started thinking about all of the worst-case scenarios but didn’t take any time to collect my thoughts and figure out the safest, most practical way to go about the situation. This cost me a bit of time that I could have spent getting help.

STEP 2: Track your phone on Find My iPhone and put it on lost mode. This way, you may be able to see where the phone is and, if it is in a safe location, you could try to go find it. More realistically, this means whoever has your phone will not be able to get into it no matter what they try. If it says, “offline,” this most likely means the thief turned off your phone and the likelihood of you tracking and finding it is low.

STEP 3: Borrow someone else’s phone and call the emergency number of the country you’re in (112 in Spain). Tell the operator what happened and have them track your location and find the nearest police station.

STEP 4: Remain focused on your end goal (filing a police report) but continue to watch yourself and stay in the moment. While looking for the nearest police station I had to walk the entirety of Las Ramblas, the most famous – and arguably the most dangerous – street in Barcelona. I was extremely determined to find the station which didn’t allow for creepy men to try to talk to me.

STEP 5: Calmly tell the police officers what has happened and don’t leave out any details. They will tell you what your next steps are.

STEP 6: Call your mom. But try to speak calmly at first. Otherwise she may think you’re dying. And no one wants that!

STEP 7: Call your mobile carrier and phone company. I had the lovely issue of having two-factor authentication on my iCloud account, meaning to log into my iCloud account on any device I would need to provide a passcode that was sent to my phone, which is kind of difficult when your phone is stolen! Long story short, I had to go through apple ID account recovery to be able to get into my iCloud account which took 3 whole days. Also, it is best to cancel your service on your mobile service so you don’t get any unexpected data charges.

STEP 8: Buy a new phone. The odds you’ll get your old one back are slim to none, and it’s much, much safer to have a phone to use for navigation and general safety than to wait around for your old one just to save some money.

STEP 9: Buy a SIM card from a local carrier. I got mine at Vodafone for only 15 euros, and it included unlimited social media, which has been a lot nicer than worrying about my data use all the time.

STEP 10: Be thankful that all the thief took are replaceable items and that you aren’t physically hurt. That is all that truly matters.

I was warned constantly by my family and locals that pickpocketing in Barcelona is extremely prevalent and dangerous. I thought I was as cautious as can be. I always held onto my belongings, never wore my backpack on my back like normal on the metro, and tried to blend in with locals. But what I have learned is that these people are relentless and will target you if they please. It is never your fault, and it is difficult to avoid. Just remember these things and you will be okay. And who knows – maybe that man needed the money that came from my nice phone more than I do.

Kara Beemer

<p>I am from Kansas City, Missouri and attend the University of Missouri in Columbia! I am a Human Development major with a Spanish minor and am hoping to attend Nursing school after graduation. I am in a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, where I have gained awesome leadership experience and met the most amazing people! Just a few fun facts about me: I LOVE concerts and have seen over 125 bands/artists; if given the choice, I would choose the beach over the mountains; and my favorite food is mashed potatoes!</p>

Destination:
Term:
2018 Summer 1, 2018 Summer 2
Home university:
University of Missouri - Columbia
Hometown:
Kansas City, MO
Major:
Human Development
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