Published on May 14th, 2012 | by charliesaidthat2
A Laptop Bag, A Laptop And An iPad Walk Into A Bar…
Some Smug Bag Thieves Walk Out With Them
So yeah. A bunch of my stuff got stolen last week. You might have noticed my hundreds of tweets about it… (If so thanks for the support! – I have some amazing clients who paid me in advance to get over this hurdle quicker – thank you!) And if not… this isn’t meant to be a sympathy post. I’m kinda over it. Kinda.
I mean, I’d have loved this blog post to be about how smart I was. How I tracked down the pair that stole my laptop bag (and a friends handbag!). How I got all our stuff back being sneaky using tech cleverly like some other people have done.
Sadly, this post is more about my mistakes and maybe how you could avoid them.
We ordered food at a pub for my girlfriend’s work leaving do at Assembly House in Kentish Town (which is brilliant and does smashing food). There were 8 of us round a table for 6, with our bags spilling out from under the table (yeah, don’t do that – it’s stupid) at around 8pm.
A pair of professional bag thieves wander into the pub, downstairs to the toitlets to take off their jackets. Came straight over to our table picked up two bags, hid them under said jackets and were gone (CCTV footage from the Landlord confirms the pair of them were in and out the pub in less than a minute!). They left the pub with two of our bags, having walked around all of us to get them.
Astonishing. I’m almost impressed.
How does it feel?
When you first realise that your bag has been taken, there is confusion which quickly subsides into anger and worry. Shit, my laptop, iPad and wallet were in that bag. Oh and my house keys…
I should say at this point… I knew straight away my insurance doesn’t cover out of home/office. I didn’t pay the extra. So I was *really* bummed out about this.
Also, to add insult to injury, I didn’t have Find my iPad, Prey or any of the other smart tracking apps that I have know about, and have read about (and if you don’t have them installed. You should get them. NOW. Don’t be as stupid as I was).
The realisation that all my work and gadgets were lost hit me hard. That said I’m lucky I backup the majority of my work using Dropbox. In the end I probably (only) lost about a weeks’ worth of work that hadn’t made it past my desktop. But even so.
Oh, crap! I think to myself, again. My head in my hands… They can get into all my emails, social media accounts, evernote, dropbox… everything… I don’t have a password on the iPad.
Then I start thinking of stupid little things like the wireless mouse, a 3g dongle, my notebook, holiday photos on a USB stick, the drawings on paper (iPad app) are gone. It honestly feels like a large part of you has been stolen.
Air turns thinner as panic sets in when I realise how easy it’d be for someone to steal your identity. Crap… And to top it off, my ventolin inhaler was in the bag too.
All this happens within a couple of minutes and then things suddenly become clear. Right. I need to cancel cards. Change passwords. Change locks.
Sorting It Out
I picked up my limp, empty, skeleton of a jacket wishing I just left my wallet in my pocket like usual! I walked out the pub, phoning my banks to cancel my cards (I still have my phone – a small miracle at this point) whilst looking for any sign my bag had been dumped nearby. It hadn’t.
After I was done on the phone to my bank I get all my passwords changed and tweet about the whole debacle… Actually I’ll be honest here, I tweeted first. On impulse. With Rage. Although, in retrospect, I like to think I could have been calmer quicker.
Of course then I glance at my phone as it beeps unhelpfully. 10% battery warning. Dammit, my phone charger was also in the bag.
It surprised me quite how personally I took it. Actually what surprised me was quite how attached we get to the gadgets despite the fact the hardware can be replaced easily yet still feel wrong.
For me it’s not really about the gadgets, or the cost of replacing them and the other odd little things, much more, the disruption and time it takes to get back up and running.
The sound of “Please keep all personal belongings with you at all times” rang out across the concourse as I trudged to the platform with my girlfriend. Never has a train announcement felt so cruel.
Cost of replacing stuff:
- Laptop £399 (I got a steal with this beauty)
- Laptop Bag £50
- Keys cut £22
- Wallet £15
- Phone charger £15
- Bank Cards – 3-5 working days + having to go to the bank to draw out money
- Inhaler (actually I’ve borrowed one, thankfully)
- iPad £I can’t afford to just yet
Turns out it was quite an expensive night.
I was also a little surprised to just how little the Metropolitan Police did to reassure us, or even pretend to sound like they cared. I mean sure, in the grand scheme of crimes, bag theft is certainly not up there. 5 days later I still haven’t heard back from them, despite the Landlord (Jon who did an amazing job, thank you) having captured clear CCTV footage of the perpetrators within 30mins of the theft.
- If you are going to take your devices around with you. Insure them.
- Don’t take expensive tech out in evenings with you (not living in London this is quite difficult) but worth bearing in mind that if you do don’t let it out of your sight.
- For goodness sake install prey and/or find my iPad.
- Don’t keep your wallet in your bag (not something I normally do but even so…)
- Backup your files, photos regularly. Why not try out Dropbox?
- Cancel credit and debit cards quickly and calmly. It’s easy to find the numbers online. Make those calls quickly for peace of mind.
- Change passwords to your main email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Evernote accounts etc.
- File a police report with as much info as you can, although don’t hold out any hope they’ll chase it up.
Got any other tips to prevent yourself from being a victim or bag theft, or good damage limitation tips? Let me know below.