Stolen Electronics – Posts on Pause Until Trip is Over

Unfortunately, on the evening of April 25, my laptop, iPhone and camera were all stolen by a professional thief while I was out to dinner in Budapest, Hungary. Therefore, don’t expect any new posts until my trip is over in September 🙁

The longer story for those interested:

I was staying at Home Plus Hostel in Budapest. It’s a small hostel (only 5 rooms) and I had been there for a few days, so I knew all the staff and they knew me. At the time, I was the only person in my 8-bedroom dorm, so I popped my phone into charge and didn’t lock up my backback as I went out for a quick dinner. I was gone for around 45 minutes. In that time a guy checked into the hostel for the night, went into the room, scoped it out for a while before deciding to go through my backpack and take my laptop, camera and iPhone. As he was leaving, he stopped to talk to the receptionist about where the closest market was. This was when I came back from dinner and walked right past the thief on my way to the kitchen to open the bottle of wine I had just bought after dinner. I chatted with some of the guests and then made my way back to my room to check on text messages I had missed while I was out to dinner and discovered what had happened.

I ran out to the receptionist and explained what happened (it had been about 10 minutes since he had left at this point) and the receptionist mentioned the guy seemed extremely nervous while he had been talking to him. I bolted outside to see if I could catch him, I had no idea what he looked like but my adrenaline was pumping and I was frantic and cursing myself. Literally, the one time I hadn’t locked up my stuff or taken it with me in the 8 months I’ve been traveling.

I made my way back to the hostel and started taking down information. The guy had booked a night at the hostel through hostelworld.com, so I had his name, e-mail address and phone number as well as a description of what he looked like from the two people who talked to him. While he was checking in he mentioned to the receptionist he was heading to Bratislava the next day. We called the cops and I enabled the tracking software on my phone and computer (Prey Project) and started trying to look up this guy using the name and e-mail address he had given. The employees at the hostel also sent an e-mail out to all of the hostels in Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava explaining what happened and to be on the lookout. I also looked up the train schedule and found  there were only a handful of trains heading to Bratislava the next day, I mentioned it to one of the guests who knew what he looked like and he agreed to go with me the next day to see if we could catch him. At this point I thought he was just a normal guy who saw a window of opportunity, took it, thus leaving me with a fairly good chance of catching him, especially if he connected to the internet with my computer or iPhone.

The cops arrived and I gave them all the serial numbers and prices of my missing items for their police report (which I could then use for my insurance claim) and then started drinking my wine, hopeful and stressed.

The next day we headed to the train station but didn’t have any luck, the devices hadn’t been connected to the internet yet and we hadn’t heard back from any of the hostels. Fast forward two days and we finally get some news. The same night (just 30 minutes after I had been robbed) a man checked into a hostel 3 blocks down the street and promptly broke into two locked lockers and stole all of the electronics before leaving. This hostel had a video surveillance and caught the guy on tape so I went with my buddy (who came with me to the train station) to this hostel to check out the footage and verify it was the same guy. It was.

Watching the tapes, he checks into the new hostel with a different name and ID, wearing different clothes and with a small (roughly 28 L) backpack. A few minutes pass and he exits the hostel with no backpack before returning 5 minutes later carrying a large duffel bag. He then, presumably, robs the two lockers and leaves 5 minutes later carrying only the big duffel bag, never to return.

At this point I realize he’s a professional crook and that he probably is going to try and turn the items for cash ASAP. I track down a few used computer shops in the area and start looking for my stuff, but, unfortunately, nothing pans out.

In the end I’m bummed because I lost all of my photos/videos from Jordan as well as my entire Eurotrip thus far; I feel violated and like he got the best of me, which is a crappy feeling. On the plus side, everything stolen was insured so I’ll be able to replace it. The staff at the hostel was absolutely amazing at helping me get the police report filled out, sending e-mails and giving me a free place to stay until everything was settled. Plus, my mom immediately went out and shipped me a new phone so I’d have something to stay in contact with for the rest of my trip, got to love the support.

I should be getting a new camera in the next few days so I can still document and enjoy photographing the rest of my trip. The trip will continue as planned; I’ll update this blog with stories, logistics and photos upon my return to America and probably daydream about somehow catching the guy who stole my stuff if it ever gets connected to the internet.

Cheers and I’ll see you all in 4 months!

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