Stolen iPhone

Stolen iPhone

Last night I watched a helpless girl run down the street chasing after a motorbike with her stolen iPhone. Here’s that story.


I met an old friend from Cat Ba Island at a rooftop bar called Hanoi Rocks. We had a few beers throughout the afternoon and even more throughout the evening. It was a damn good night.

At around 2 or 3 in the morning, I decided to return to my apartment. I was a little drunk and extremely tired as I walked and weaved through the streets of Hanoi. As I passed through the old quarter I bumped into an English and a Dutch girl returning to their hostel. I can’t recall the exact details of how we met, but the point is, we met.

We walked together side-by-side. I was on the left. The English girl in the middle. And, the Dutch girl on the right.

When we reached the middle of the street, a motor cycle came whizzing up and slowed for a brief second beside the Dutch girl. I was completely oblivious as to what was going on. However, right after the motorbike sped off, the Dutch girl started chasing after it screaming words in Dutch I couldn’t understand.

The Snatch

It happened so fast.

One second, we were all walking along with each other, sharing jokes and snippets about our personal lives. Then the next second, the Dutch girl was running down the street trying to retrieve her stolen iPhone.

The Dutch girl tried desperately to catch up to the motorbike and tossed her hand bag at the driver which missed by a couple meters.

The English girl performed a valiant 65 m sprint and nearly caught up to the motorbike. She had nothing to throw and screamed heaps of hate onto the motorbike riders.

I took a few quick steps to try and contribute to the chase but quickly stopped when I realized my efforts were in vain. The bike was too quick and had already turned the corner at the end of the street.

The Aftermath

At this point, I had absolutely no idea what just happened. You can call me a clueless fool because I seriously thought the Dutch girl got hit by the motorbike and that was the reason why she was running down the street in a panic.

When the motorbike turned the corner and left for good, I regrouped with the girls to figure out if everything was okay.

The Dutch girl was in tears when I arrived. She kept saying, they stole my iPhone… what about all the pictures… can we file a police report…

Finally, I could understand the situation as I listened to what happened between sobs.

The English girl was extremely supportive. She had her arm around her friend telling her thing to try and calm her down. After a couple minutes, she told the Dutch girl to get up and follow her to the police office.

Ironically, there was police office (or what seemed to be one) just a few buildings away in the opposite direction where the motorbike fled.

The “Police Report”

We walked into a building with an officer in a olive green uniform sitting at the front desk. The Dutch girl quickly ran up and began explaining the situation.

The poor guy sat there with a confused look on his face. He couldn’t understand a word of English and just sat there with a look of concern on his face.

The English girl and I pull out our non-stolen phones to try and translate our situation to the officer. My phone died within a few seconds and the English girl’s phone was completely dead.

All the while, the Dutch girl sat in a chair in front of the desk repeating her story between deep breathes and heavy sobbing, they stole my iPhone… what about all the pictures… can we file a police report…

The English girl pulled out a power bank and we chose to plug in my phone to use the data. When the phone powered back on, I handed over to the Dutch girl so she could lock out her phone and whatever else she could do on “Find My Phone“.

It appears that Find My Phone doesn’t work on an Android device and this caused the Dutch girl to panic again and freak out even more.

I asked her if she wanted to phone someone to help her then took out my computer so she could make phone calls from my Google Hangouts account.

She tried calling her mom, her dad, and her sister, but no one was picking up. Then she tried calling a couple friends and someone finally came through to calm the poor girl down.

During this time, the police tried asking for their hostel name and contact information. Communication was very difficult and even with Google Translate to help us out. In the end, it seemed there was nothing we could do and the police only took their contact information and said to come back the next day.

So much for making a police report.

The Conclusion

We spent about an hour in the office trying to make a police report then waiting for the Dutch girl to finish her phone calls.

I paced around the room and occasionally stood in the door way to wait things out. At one point, the officer in green approached me, pulled out a package of local cigarettes and offered one to me.

We stood their smoking and the officer showed his deepest apologies through body gestures and facial expressions. When we locked eyes, we seemed to both understand that the girl would likely never see her stolen iPhone again.

When the Dutch girl finished her calls, she seemed a little more cheery and started to laugh once again. We walked back to their hostel together which was only 3 to 4 minutes away from the place where the Vietnamese thieves stole her iPhone.

Overall, Vietnam is very safe place. Yes, there will be the occasional thief that will try to snag an iPhone or camera or some other valuable belongings, but the odds of this happening are pretty rare (at least, that’s what I believe).

To the Dutch girl with the stolen iPhone — next time try sticking your iPhone in one of these!

Jef van de Graaf
Canadian Copywriter & World Traveler
Business | Travel Blog | Connect


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