…and it can happen to you too.
The day was cloudy, and I love cloudy days once in a while. Madrid has spoiled me with sun since my arrival, each day bringing another cloudless sky. So, when the clouds filled the sky last week I was happy to see Madrid in a new light. Without the sun, Madrid looked greener and less yellow and more pensive and less summery. I liked it…until I had my phone stolen. I don’t normally associate cloudy days with phone theft, but now I do. I’m still bitter.
I was walking around the Callao area, which is known for pickpockets. There are many tourists in Madrid that tend to congregate in the Gran Via-Callao-Sol area. These pickpockets are professionals and unless there’s violence involved, they don’t risk much if they are caught.
I don’t really know what happened, but after admiring a pair of sneakers on display at a store I stood up to notice my backpack wide open and my phone gone. I called my mom on my friends phone and she asked me how I didn’t notice anything. Almost a week later, and I still don’t know how the answer to her question. These people are professional thieves.
The next day I went to the police station to file a denuncia or police report. If you’re nervous about speaking to an officer in Spanish, there is a hotline for English speakers so that you can file your report. The officer, who seemed to doubt my Spanish skills at first, explained to me that he didn’t know the likelihood of locating my phone because it wasn’t in his department. I called the hotline later hoping to get a better explanation and was greeted with the same uncertainty. In the unfortunate case you lose your phone or have it stolen, don’t count on the Spanish police. They probably receive hundreds of these requests a day. Prevention is the best way to go, so here are some tips:
1. If you have an iPhone, record its IMEI number so that the police can track it.
The police can use your device’s IMEI number to track it, regardless if it’s off or on airplane mode. It’s a good tool, in addition to the Find my IPhone app.
2. Be aware your iPhone costs a lot of money.
In Spain, iPhones are much more expensive than in the US. If you want a brand new IPhone 6 in Spain, be prepared to pay more than $720. This makes IPhones a highly desirable item for pickpockets.
3. Don’t wear your backpack on your back.
I know you don’t want to look uncool with your backpack hanging like a beer belly in front of you, but it’s better than having your phone stolen. It’s easier for pickpockets to snatch something from behind you than snatch something in front of you. If you have a purse, make sure it has a zipper.
4. Put your phone in the pocket of your pocket of your pocket.
This makes it more difficult for pickpockets to take your phone without you noticing.
So, that’s the story of how my phone was stolen in Spain. It’s an awful feeling to have something taken from you. At the end of the day it is just a cellphone, but I don’t want to minimize the having something stolen from you because it is a major bummer.
On the way home after my phone was stolen, a tall, goofy man played guitar and sang Spanish love songs on the metro. It cheered me up, a little.
I still want my phone back.