Monday, October 20, 2014

Thank You Technology, Thank You Seattle Police Officers.

When I first got my phone, my husband mentioned that it was probably a good idea to turn on the Find My Phone feature in it because, you just never know when one might need it.

But before I go into the details of why I am mentioning that app, let me share with you the amount of times that I have been robbed in my life: SEVEN.

I know very well that all material things can be replaced, that's something I learned the hard way. But, the feeling of insecurity that hits you because someone decided to cross that line to take something away from you, it's very hard to explain.

The first experienced that I had with a robbery was back in my hometown Veracruz. All I remember is that I was a little kid. I heard my mom saying that someone entered our home, and stole many things. My parents never really told me what was taken, all I know is that, when my mom came back from her school, she found the doors open, and the house was a mess. Thankfully none of us were at home, and therefore all of us were safe.

The second time was in Mexico City. Miguel (my husband) and I were walking down the street towards a store when three guys jumped on us. They grabbed Miguel, and they tried to stab him with a screw driver while I ran away as fast as I could trying to find help. Fortunately, I found two good police officers, and a neighbor, that came to help. We were lucky to get out of that one alive.

The third time was in the subway in Mexico City too. Three guys got in the subway car, and started asking everyone to take out their belongings. They were armed too, but since they had only about one or two minutes to commit the robbery, they didn't harm anyone, and no one wanted to be a hero either. 

The fourth one was a whole different thing. On that one we were "express kidnapped." It was almost midnight, and we were in a cab heading home after playing at a restaurant when two guys got into our cab at a red light. They drove us around the city for many hours... at gunpoint. They took everything we had on us. One of our keyboards, cash, our jackets, my keys, our IDs... That was one of the scariest days of my life, and I will never forget it. We tried to report it to the police with no luck. They ignored us, and that's probably why so many times it's hard for many people from Mexico to trust the police, or the system in general.

The fifth one was here in the U.S. in Lynnwood, WA. All they took was our car stereo. We called the police, and I was surprised to see that they actually came to our house to take our statements! The officer told us to not keep our hopes up, and to please never buy anything from a pawn shop because that's where thieves take their stolen goods. I still remember that part of our conversation very well. 

The sixth time happened in Redmond, WA. Miguel's car got stolen from a parking lot. We reported it to the police, and almost a month later we got it back. That's when I started feeling that I could actually trust the police. Like they were actually doing their job.

Now, the last one happened recently in Northgate. At the Jewel Box Café to be more exact. I was meeting with a friend for coffee, and we sat on the back. A young person came over to our table, a couple of times, to grab some napkins. And even though I found it a bit strange, I thought that maybe he was waiting to enter the bathroom and because he didn't want to lose his place in line, he was taking the napkins from our table. Unfortunately, the third time he approached the table was to grab my phone. The moment he took it, I stood up and yelled: "Hey! That's my phone! Give it back!"

I started walking fast behind him asking people around to please stop him because he had my phone. Everything was happening a little bit too fast for anyone to react. All of a sudden, I was outside the café, running after him, chasing him, and screaming: "Please, stop him! He has my phone! Someone, please help me! Stop him!"

While I was running, a black police car approached me and an officer asked: "Is that the guy?"

They started chasing him, and in a matter of seconds I heard more sirens, and about four young men were running after him too. I had to stop running because I twisted my ankle. A police officer stopped next to me to ask what else had this person taken. I explained that I had credit cards, my ID, my phone, and some other personal information because my Phone Case was my wallet too. One of the staff members from the café also came out to help. She mentioned to the police that they video recorded everything with their surveillance cameras, and that they could watch it if they needed it.  

After 5 or 10 minutes (although it felt a lot longer), another police officer came to ask what type of phone I had, and I told him I had an iPhone. He immediately took his phone out and asked if I had the "Find My Phone" feature on. I said: YES I DO! He then asked me to log-in into my account to see where my phone was, and there it was, my phone on his screen!

The police was not able to find the thief because he apparently was not acting alone, and his partner had probably picked him up.

The officers never, not even for a second left me alone. They kept asking if I was okay. If the person had pushed me, or hurt me. When three police cars arrived to the café, the officers that had stayed with me the whole time said that my phone was coming, and they introduced me to the female officer who had found it in the woods. I was so relieved, and happy that I had to ask her: Can I please give you a hug? Her face showed surprise and her response was "Oh my, yes, I suppose you can." And so I did.

As I mentioned before, I know that material things can be replaced, and that all I had to do was call my banks to cancel the credit cards, and go to the Licensing office to replace my ID, but that feeling of having someone violating your space is something that is very difficult to overcome. 

I am extremely grateful for the outcome of this situation. I learned that night that apparently the areas of Ballard, Northgate, and Lake City are becoming targets of thieves taking laptops, phones, tablets, just because we are a little too comfortable leaving them unattended. No, it's not fair that some persons are feeling the right to take away things that are not theirs, but the reality is that some will do, and we have to be a little more careful about it.

I also learned that protecting my phone with a passcode is the smart thing to do. Even when I get frustrated because I cannot access things in my phone as fast as I would like to, but at least my personal information is a bit safer. Also, turning on the "Find My Phone" feature made things a whole lot easier for the officers to find it. So there you have it, next time that you are at a coffee shop, and you have to leave your things unattended, even if it's just for a few seconds, think about it twice because the thieves, are not.

Unfortunately, I did not ask the officers for their names, but here they are.  



2 comments:

  1. Patty,

    Thank goodness you are OK. I am happy to hear that you recovered your belongings. Good grief! I am also horrified to hear that you have had so many terrible experiences in Mexico City, of all places. Gratefully, you and Miguel are fine. xo

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