Saturday, March 15, 2014

CSI: Malaysia

I don't watch CSI, but if the producers decide to do a Malaysian season of the show, I will volunteer to be an actress. This weekend I had the scariest, most adventure-packed experience of my life. That's saying something because I've spent many years living in remote jungles, busy international cities, and Newport News. Haha.
It all began on Friday, March 14th. It started out as a glorious day. The night before I had gotten an email from our principal saying school was canceled because of unhealthy levels of haze in the city (due to forest fires). After sleeping in and lounging around the house, I decided to be productive and finally write the tons of blogposts that I've been storing up and waiting to write. I don't tend to get much work done at my house thanks to other distractions, so I showered, packed up and headed to Starbucks. It was a great day. I had plans that night to babysit a co-workers baby. I was rested. I was motivated. Things were going swimmingly.
I got to Starbucks at 2:30. Got my drink, sat in a comfy chair, pulled out my laptop and started it up, then pulled out my iPad and set it on the little stool next to me. I had most of my pictures for the blog on my iPad, but wanted to do the typing on my laptop. For the next hour and a half I was going between the two devices typing, sending pictures, trying to figure out the mystery of the missing Malaysian Airline, trying really hard not to be distracted by the security guard downstairs carrying a huge rifle, etc. At 3:50, I decided to just send the rest of the pictures to my laptop all at once. I did that, set my ipad down, and started hardcore focusing on finishing a post. Less than 5 minutes later, a woman came and asked if she could sit in the chair opposite me and share the outlet. I said, "Yes, I'm about to leave." I reached for my iPad and it wasn't there. I figured I had just put it back in my laptop bag or elsewhere, so started searching around. The lady looked at me like I was crazy. I said, "I had my iPad here, now it's gone." 
Her advice, "Maybe you put it somewhere." No, literally. I just had it and now it's missing. I checked through my bag 4 times hoping that it'd just appear, checked under my chair (how it possibly could've gotten there, I didn't know, but was frantic), and continued searching for a solid 2 minutes. When I determined it had been snatched, I immediately went to the desk to report it. Good news: there was a CCTV camera pointing right at where I was sitting. Bad news: Malaysia. The baristas all seemed very shocked and quickly said "We were very busy. We did not see anything." I assured them I definitely didn't blame them and took responsibility for being unattentive (darn you Kenny G and your smooth jazz that gets me in a writing mood!), but I just wanted to get it back. The manager came out and said that before I could watch the CCTV I had to have a police report. Red flag #1: I asked her where the closest police station was and she had to ask three of her employees before they came to a consensus. Um, isn't that something you should know? Actually, isn't that something I should know?! I told her I'd go get the report and come right back. It was already about 15 minutes after the theft, in my mind I was thinking that every single second was precious to the recovery, but apparently that was just me.
I had forgotten to bring my phone, but needed to call my friends to tell them I'd be late to babysitting, so I rushed home to grab that. While I was here, I decided to quickly log on and see if I could track my iPad using the Find My iPhone app. The first time it scanned, it said it was offline. I went through the measures of putting it into "Lost Mode" (which locks the device, posts your phone number on it when it is turned on, sends out a beeping signal when it is located, and traces it when it gets online). Then, I just quickly had it search again and this time it was online, but the location was unavailable. At least I knew lost mode had been activated, it was locked, and they had my contact number. Got my phone, sent a quick email to my family asking for prayer, called Jalah to explain what was happening, and went to the police station. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got here. Foreign law enforcement doesn't always have the best reputation, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had to wait about 3 minutes and then I got called up to the desk. I gave her a brief summary of what had happpened and she said, "Can you write the report?" 
"Yes? Sure?" I answered. She handed me the keyboard and mouse and let me type up the story. When I was done, she clicked around a little more, put in all my contact info (was dumbfounded that I didn't have my passport... I'm the VICTIM here! Why do you need my passport?! Thankfully I had a copy for her and that was enough.), and printed it out. She had me sign it and then handed a copy to one of the officers. He said, you go back and wait at Starbucks and my detective will come to you. I nodded and as I started to walk away, "my" detective showed up. So we exchanged phone numbers and he said he'd be over shortly. I hopped in the car, went back to Starbucks and gave the police report to the manager. She took it into the back room to call her boss. As I was left waiting, I talked to one of the baristas who had arrived in the time I was gone. She said, "Sorry it was stolen. My co-worker said he maybe saw someone with the iPad. He was a Chinese guy." 
I said, "Oh........" That was all I could get out because in my head were the following thoughts: a) Malaysia is 1/3 Chinese. b) almost all the Malaysian Chinese I've ever met have iPads. c) MAYBE he saw someone? That is not helpful!!! But, I maintained my calm and said, "Thanks. I just want my iPad back." I went and sat down to wait for anything further. A few minutes later, the manager came out and gave me the business card of the district manager. She said, "We cannot watch the CCTV right now. The district manager will call you within 24 hours." 
I said, "Ok. I'm going to wait for the detective." Mostly just because I had no idea what was going on. The battery on my laptop was now dead, and I had forgotten to bring an adaptor for the plug. I told them I was going to walk to the department store on the other side of the mall and get one. As soon as I walked into the store, the detective called and said, "Are you at Starbucks?"
Me: "I'm at Parkson, very close to Starbucks. Are you there?"
Detective: "Go to Starbucks."
Me: "Ok. Are you there?"
Detective: "Bye."
I hurried back to Starbucks. No detective. Waited 3 minutes. No detective. (Could've bought that darn plug after all.) A minute later, detective calls, "I am at Starbucks, are you coming?" 
Me: "I am at Starbucks. Are you coming?" Haha. Red Flag #2. 
Detective: "Where are you?"
Me: "I am at Starbucks at Subang Parade Mall."
Detective: "Ok. We are coming."
A few minutes later, he and his partner arrived. They asked for the police report. I said I had given it to the manager. They looked disgusted as if I should've known better. They walked over to the counter, flashed their badges and said, "We need the police report." The manager went and got it, brought it out and they talked in a little huddle for about 2 minutes. Then, the detectives came over to me and said, "The CCTV is sent to HQ and they have to watch it there. They will call you in one or two days when they identify the thief." 
REALLY?! I waited 20 minutes for you to tell me that?! But I maintained my calm, put on a sweet smile, and thanked them all profusely. I walked out of there not thinking I'd ever see my poor little iPad again. On my way to the car, the only thoughts I could think, besides frustration and sadness, were Bible verses about "Always give thanks," "Be joyful," and "Rejoice!". This is clearly not what I wanted to do. Then, the next thought was to a sermon I'd just listened to the day before. It was by Mark Driscoll out of James 1, it was titled "Know the Word, Do the Word." So, I got in my car and just sat to think, I know what the verses say, but how can I do them right now? I took a few minutes to list off a bunch of things I was thankful for. I was rejoicing that I hadn't been hurt in the process of the iPad getting stolen, I was thankful they hadn't stolen my wallet that was sitting in my bag right next to my iPad, I was thankful I still had a laptop and phone and car to be able to handle the situation, I was rejoicing that the police involvement had been painless and semi-restored my belief in their system, I was thankful I had just emailed myself most of my pictures from the iPad, and the list went on. I'm not perfect or even close, don't get me wrong. I was still upset and angry, but it did help to turn my focus to the positive. 
I headed home (took a rain check on babysitting!), spent some time reading, watched a few episodes of my favorite TV shows, and kept incessantly checking Find My iPhone. I realized that by locking the device, it was  near impossible for the perpetrator to connect it to the Internet, so my hope in it ever being returned began to lessen even further. I posted about it on Facebook, was reminded of all the love and support I've been blessed with, and then went to sleep, not knowing in the slightest what the next day would bring. To read about that, stay tuned til tomorrow. Trust me, you don't want to miss it. Ha. :)


  1. Ahhhhh you leave us hanging like that??!

  2. Are you thinking about writing suspense novels? :) Keep thinking positive.

  3. Stephanie! I am waiting for the next installment!