Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Sting

It’s been a rough few days. I’ve been to the police station three times, I’ve been in the back of a cop car, and I’ve orchestrated a sting operation. No, I am not joking. But yes, it's kind of funny now, in retrospect.

My iPhone was stolen this past weekend. I naively left it on my desk at work. But then again, who would steal a phone from someone’s personal workspace? Especially in a yogic environment?

An a-hole. Not only did he steal a phone, the thief texted “f*** uu” to my boyfriend, replying to a text that didn’t exactly warrant an expletive response:
My boyfriend: “There’s a guy doing yoga in the window of lulu lemon.”
The Phone Thief: “F*** uu”

Of course The Phone Thief just wanted to make a few bucks. My phone ended up at one of those jewelry shops where they “BUY AND SELL DIAMONDS.” (Which I’ve learned implies: “We buy/sell your stolen goodies!”) I know this because an employee at the store contacted me the night after my phone was stolen. I was at a jazz club with some friends, my replacement phone secured safely in my purse. When we left the club to go to a different bar I checked my new phone. I had 13 text messages from a random 347 number. And they were creepy:
“Did u loose a phone”
“My name is [Hebrew name] pls call me”
“A lil black kid came to my store In the city and sold it to me”
“I c that ure Jewish trying to help u out r u ok ? Do u want it back lol”
“Anyways if u want it u can come to [address] [name of the store] jewelers ask for [nickname]
“U don’t really seem to care or believe will u pls answer is it to good to b true”

I replied that yes I did want my phone back. Could he meet me at a coffee shop the next day? (I figured a public place would be safe, and I would bring backup: my boyfriend.) But The Guy Who Bought the Stolen Phone insisted I come to his jewelry shop; he said it was “kool : )” Yikes. I asked if he could meet that night? (Let's get this over with.) He said only if I bought him drinks, smiley face. Oy. This was getting uncomfortable. I couldn’t help thinking about everything he had access to on my phone. Had he seen my pictures? There was nothing incredibly risqué. There were, however, pics of me in an itsy bitsy tiny weeny bikini (at the beach). I felt violated and a bit freaked out.

I was in a sticky situation. On the one hand, I did want my phone (and its contents) back. On the other hand, I didn’t want to have to meet the shadeball in possession of my phone. So I went to the 5-0 again. (I had filed a police report earlier.) The cops were cringing when they heard what The Guy Who Bought the Stolen Phone had been saying to me. We crafted a few more responses to his texts, and I told The Guy I'd meet him the following day.

The following day: I went back to the Po-Po for Operation Get My Phone Back. I sat in the stinky waiting room for what seemed like forever. (I suppose they were busy with crimes bigger than Petit Larceny.) Then two cops I hadn’t yet met came out and said “Let’s go.” I thought Umm wait don’t you need some information? They just asked me my name and the address of the shady jewelry store. And then we got in the cop car. And FYI the back of a cop car is not roomy. I awkwardly peered through the bars dividing me and my team, waiting for THE PLAN. Radio silence. (Until of course something came through on their radio.) I was thinking Where’s my bulletproof vest?? But instead I made small talk-
Me: “Do you do this sort of thing often?”
My Team: “No.”

Then we arrived. We parked directly in front of the shady jewelry store. I had expected we’d be a little more discreet and at least park around the corner! My heart was pounding. I wasn’t ready to face the creepy Guy Who Bought the Stolen Phone. Fortunately I didn’t have to. My SWAT team told me to stay put, standing right beside the cop car. They went in. They talked to The Guy Who Bought the Stolen Phone. And they came out, with my phone. We got back in the car. And my team and I recouped. Apparently The Guy had had the nerve to tell the cops he should at least get some money for the phone. They reminded him that it was STOLEN. And that was that. And then I got a ride to work in the back of a cop car.


P.S. What I learned the hard way… My advice to everyone with a smartphone:
1. Put a passcode on your phone. Period.
2. If you have an iPhone, connect your phone to iCloud.
3. If you have an iPhone, download the “Find my iPhone” app.
4. Never leave your phone unattended.
5. Don’t even use white earbuds; use black, incognito ones. (The cops told me this tip. Thieves target people using white earbuds.)

P.P.S. Did you hear about this? I heard about it at the police station, when a reporter from the New York Post was trying to get the scoop from the cops. 

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