Getting phonejacked for my Nokia N95 in London Town

n95

I teach a class of 11 and 12 year olds web, blogging, Google and the like every Thursday evening.

En route to the centre yesterday (it’s in a particularly dodgy part of town) I decided to be uber-organised and book a taxi for my departure later on. I even remebered the number of Addison Lee, the taxi firm, without having to go on the web to look it up.

Chatting leisurely to the lady on the phone, I had almost completed my reservation when I felt my Nokia N95 slip away from my ear.

My first instinct was to reach around and pull a rather vindictive Karate move. I don’t practice regularly, but I still know the moves well. But I stopped myself as I thought that one of my students — seeing me walking to class — was playing a joke. It wouldn’t look too good, I decided, to turn around, disable the student and snatch back my N95 with his parent looking on in shock.

Imagine my surprise and amusement when I saw that it wasn’t one of my students — it was a lumberling fat bloke jogging away with my handset.

Ah.

‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOT?’ I yelled at him.

‘I’M ONLY GOING TO DISABLE THE HANDSET!’

There were a group of this chap’s friends standing nearby. Maybe 8 or so. One or two on pushbikes.

‘Does he know what he’s doing?’ I asked them.

‘Did your fone get nicked mate?’ one of’em replies. I stared at him in the eyes for a few moments.

‘Does your colleague know how it works with mobile phones nowadays?’ I ask.

To wide-eyed looks, I explain the rudiments of IMEI and sim locking, ‘That means when he tries to flog it, the guy buying it will try to use it… and find it DUNT WURK.’

They didn’t seem to know this. One of’em turns to me, “He’s my cousin, I know him, I can get your sim card back for a tenner, mister?’

Ahh. A well trodden path of crime, I thought.

‘Sure, I”ll give you £20 if you get me sim card back,’ I offered.

‘No, just a tenner, mister, now. Give it to me now and I’ll go and get it off him.’

They must think my head buttoned up the back.

Well, I can understand why: I just let some total arse walk off with my N95.

I declined the offer and walked round the corner to the education centre. My students were wide-eyed with excitement — “Someone jacked your phone, Sir?”

I phoned the local Police. Having not had my handset stolen in stuch a stupid manner before, I wasn’t quite clear on the procedure. The chap at the local station asked me to dial 999.

‘I haven’t been stabbed or anything, it’s just a handset?’ I queried.

‘Yeah, but it’s a crime isn’t it sir?’

Very well. I phoned 999. The emergency mobile lookup worked nicely.

Two emissaries from the baddie who took my phone turned up on pushbikes: ‘Mister, we can get your sim card back for a tenner!’

‘No, I’m fine thanks,’ I replied.

‘What about all your valuable numbers, Mister? Don’t want to lose them doya?’

I smiled at the guy and motioned to the air, ‘My numbers are in the clouds.’ (I was referring to Zyb, to Good Mobile Messaging, to Fasthosts, to the fact I am more or less device independent. My data doesn’t reside on just one handset.)

Heh. That confused him and his mate.

‘But, for a tenner! We can get the sim back! Think about your numbers!’

Ahhh. Definitely a well used technique.

I walked into the centre as I explained that, ‘Mine are synched, I don’t need them back. Thanks.’

Within a few moments, plain clothed Police Officers arrived and I sat in the back and cruised the streets hunting for the chap. Very good service.

‘You’re remarkably calm,’ the lady from T-Mobile said, when I phoned to deactivate everything. I had my E61 you see. Never without a phone!

I smiled to myself, still feeling a Class-A idiot for letting the guy run off.

‘Well, I was getting slightly bored of the N95 and it was just a pointless crime.’

T-Mobile were extremely efficient. Good news.

I realised then that I was truly device independent. It is an arse to have lost the N95. But not a huge problem. Not a real issue. It hasn’t stopped my business in it’s tracks. I am using my 3UK Nokia N73 and my new T-Mobile sim arrives tomorrow. For other people, losing their handset is a total, total, total bind.

For me? Meh. Annoying, yes. I feel stupid for not slapping the arse. Although I doubt his friends would have reacted well to that.

I ended up doing what everybody else in the real world does: Just walking away.

I’m disappointed that this chap felt his best bet that early evening was to take my handset.

Mostly, I’m in a little bit of confusion that I didn’t feel more cheated, more outraged, more angry.

When the Police Officer radioed into his handset, ‘We’re onboard with the victim doing a cruise around the area,’ I thought, ‘Who’s the Victim?’

Definitely not me. I’m briefly inconvenienced but I’ll just buy another.

As for insurance, no. I don’t have any mobile insurance. I never bother. I think it’s the height of nonsense to pay £19 a month (which, I think I was quoted) to insure my handset…

First, I’ve got a ton of them and typically, I end up changing them like the wind.

Second, £19 a month is what I pay to T-Mobile for 1,000 off-peak minutes for one of my other accounts. That’s a WHOLE service plan, a month.

Third, I’m never stupid enough to use my phone in a dodgy area…………………

,

  • http://www.shopqwik.com Mark

    Ewan,

    You were lucky you weren’t stabbed, which you quite easily could have been if you had of followed Fatty….

    I know its annoying but you never see a knife until its all over, so you took the very best course of action in my book. Its just not worth it..

    Hopefully that loser will sell the phone to some local hard guy who will sort him out when he realises its not working…

    Remember….. Karma is a wonderful thing!

    Mark

  • Mike

    I agree 100% with Mark. Any idiot can weild a knife in your ribs, it takes a genius to have all his contacts backed up and another rich media device in the other pocket.

    We had a similarish experience with selling a mobile on eBay, ending in death threats. I take great solace in the knowledge that I have a loving family and a long, happy life ahead, whereas phone crims already suffer a life of misery and look forward only to the eventual slide into long grey oblivion.

    Someone must be doing an N95 background app that will receive an SMS and transmit the GPS location? I have software that will lock the phone on USIM change and emit a really loud alarm sound. You can also wipe the contents remotely too.

    Chin up

    Mike

  • njar

    might have been fairly amusing to trach him and his phone using LBS or the onboard GPS. Presumably you’d find which tower block he was in, but would struggle with the correct floor! Although O2 (had you been on this network) passes back a ‘height above sea-level’ reference on LBS, so perhaps you could have worked out the floor after all :)

    BTW you absolutely did the right thing in not reacting. If you’d done anything macho, you’d be in court about now getting done for assault.

  • http://rosariodoriott.com Rosario

    I got my phone stolen in Madrid like that. I cried. But, true. That was before I heard of ZYB.

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  • njar

    isn’t the whole zyb thing a bit redundant if your phone comes with a data cable and a lightweight bit of pc software to store numbers?

  • Mike

    http://www.symbiangear.com/platform_psion/produkt.html?id=129296

    Have used this software several times myself – to find my phone when the wee darlings have hidden it from daddy…once at the bottom of a 5ft high pile of dead leaves.

    I bet your burglar would have dropped the handset like a hot potato once the alarm started going off. You can pull the battery of course, but when you reinsert it, with or without a USIM, it starts going off again. Good stuff.

    At £6, money well spent (in advance of course)

  • http://www.itagg.com steve procter

    yeah leave the karate kicks out mate. Otherwise we’ll be having an SMSTextNews Summer party with grapes and ribena in the nearest hospital and then an Autumn party at the local magistrates where you’d be had up for sticking the little toerags human rights up his jacksy!!

    steve

  • http://unique-user.blogspot.com/ Chris

    there is a lot of anti-theft software for mobiles available. Track the movements of your mobile, using the gsm cell-id localization with this free software: http://www.symbian-toys.com/ or gain informations about the thief, monitoring his activities like sent and received sms, incoming and outgoing calls, phonebooks contacts added.
    “Theft” is also a great software solution: http://www.symbianbrains.co.uk/
    If stolen a siren goes off. If you call your mobile you will be notified of the new number if the thief changes your SIM. It does a lot more- some things are truly stunning ->€14.99

  • http://www.brillianthosts.com Jeb

    My question about Zyb is, does it keep the labels I associate with the numbers? For example I have my parents 2 cell phones and 1 home line all under my parents name, so I also label the #rs with Mom and Dad so I know who belongs to what number. Does Zyb copy this from a Nokia S60V3 phone like an E61i?

    By the way Ewan you should check out the E61i if you still like the E61 layout but want a little more. Just a suggestion.

  • http://www.myadhan.com Nasser

    Glad to hear you are alright Ewan.

    I last time I had my phone jacked (8210i) was a few years back. This greasy little toe-rag decided to snatch my phone outside a tube station riding by on a bike, the audacity of it! I should have known better not to pull out the phone given I was in Stepney Green in East London.

    I actually gave chase and if it wasn’t for my heavy Timerland’s and bag I would have caught the little prick and given him a good hiding. I even got some help from a cab driver who helped try to find the tower block he sprouted from but alas no luck. I never thought this idiot could have pulled a knife on me or anything. I actually didn’t care about the phone or the numbers on it, it was more about getting even. Hard work and sweat went in to buying that phone and I was upset someone could just swipe it off me.

    I was upset for days wishing I could replay the event “my way”. The first 10 minutes of the Wesley Snipes movie “Blade” were great template for my vengence.

    I got over it but my lesson was learnt.

  • Craig

    Ah, the joys of living in the Uk where people still get jacked for phones. Lol.

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