2 days ago I had my 1 month old Nexus 5 stolen on the streets of Cuenca. First and foremost it can happen to anyone in any city in the world. Second, I was not hurt and learned some valuable lessons.
Petty theft and especially smartphone theft is on the rise in Cuenca. Petty theft (under $600 ) is not prosecuted in Ecuador. Here are some thoughts and observances based on my 3+ years in Ecuador.
- Never, answer your phone on a bus. And carry the phone in your purse or front pocket and switch it to vibrate.
- Try and have all four direction in view and stand against a wall if possible when using your smartphone
- Texting in a high traffic area is just asking for someone to snatch your phone
- Wear a bluetooth headphone to avoid run by snatchings
- When using a BT headset use “Google Now” on Android and “Siri” on iPhones to make your calls
- *** Very important*** On iPhones install the “Find My iPhone” App
- *** Very important*** On Android Phones use the “Android Device Manager”
- Write down the serial number of your phone in a safe place
Fortunately, I was not hurt during the theft. So here our some simple guidelines.
- Don’t fight. Give the punk the phone
- Don’t run after him
- Look for facial characteristics. There are mug shots available in the police station.
After: (In Cuenca)
- Have someone call 911 in the area – I was fortunate a family picked me up in their SUV and called the police
- ***Very important*** Do not cancel your Claro or Movistar plan right away
- Go home and use one of the tracking device to see where your phone is
- Lock your phone using the tracking device
- If uninjured go to the Fiscalia (Police Station) at Paucamaba
- If injured go to Fiscalia at the Airport – They have mug shots there.
- Fill out the Denuncia form – Totally in Spanish so have a friend or a facilitator there.
- Check with Moviestar or Claro in the next couple of weeks to see if the their was stupid enough to register your phone.
Are you at extra risk in Ecuador carrying a smartphone? Absolutely! Life is risk. For me the pleasure and rewards for owning a smarthphone outweigh the risks. Will phone theft happen to me again? Will I run after the Ladron. Nunca!!!