My House Was Robbed 1 Week Before Launching Travelmvmt
Getting Robbed 1 Week Before Website Launch
I was awoken to my brother knocking on the door. It was Saturday morning and we had planned to visit our parents. Sleepily, I made my way out of bed. I hadn’t gone to sleep until around 1:00 AM that morning as I was busy preparing to launch my local travel, self-development and lifestyle website.
I let Tom in and started getting ready. I got dressed, grabbed my bag and headed to the study area where I had left all my electronic equipment the night before. It wasn’t there. “That’s odd”, I said aloud, half-asleep. As I rummaged through the things on the desk I realised it was all gone: my laptop, brand new Sony camera and gear, external hard drive with passwords, personal information and photos from all my travels, even a pair of minimalist travel shoes I had barely worn had vanished.
A shot of anxiety rushed through me, but I quickly composed myself thinking I may have left the items back in my bedroom. I searched my room frantically to see if my things were there, but I found nothing.
Now I had that sinking feeling. I realised my house had been robbed. And it wasn’t anything insignificant either – I had lost everything important to my website which I had been working on for over half a year now. This included loads of content, layouts, designs, media, the list went on. Uff… this was all on my laptop’s hard-drive and I had never saved it online on the cloud. (I now use and highly recommend pCloud. It is seamless to use across all my Mac and Android devices and is a far, far cheaper alternative to Dropbox.)
I then remembered the brand new camera I had just bought with my savings from working the past few months. It was gone as well. The shoes I didn’t really care about, but what upset me the most was the smallest item of them all – my external hard drive. This little black box was the window to many years worth of travels and memories, and had a tonne of personal medical and password information which was the scary part. I was devastated. What happened next was the start of a strange series of events.
A strange ringtone started playing
As I was standing in my room coming to grips with the theft, I heard a strange ringtone come from the study area which I did not recognise. Creepy. My brother and I cautiously walked over and there sat a cracked white Huawei phone. It did not belong to me nor any of my housemates, and it certainly wasn’t my brother’s. It was the thief’s! They must have been deaf, dumb or high on drugs to have dropped their phone at the scene of the crime.
As the ringtone played, the screen woke up and we saw a phone call coming from someone called ‘Wade’. We also saw some dirty erotic messages from a porno site that the owner was connected to. I quickly grabbed my phone and recorded the details on the suspect’s phone. This could be useful evidence at some point, I thought.
Reporting the crime to ‘Officer Shaka’
This all happened in the space of about 5 minutes, and the next step was to report the crime to the authorities. I carefully secured the suspect’s phone as evidence, careful not to remove any fingerprints, and we raced to the Police station to report my house being robbed. I submitted the phone and provided a detailed description of what happened. The Police Officer in charge was thorough, friendly and strangely chilled out. He threw up double ‘shakas’ as we concluded the report and walked out. At first I thought this was an incredibly odd thing for a Police Officer to do, especially when someone was reporting a crime, but as a surfer I appreciated his vibe and it actually made me laugh quite a bit which was great. Only in Australia.
The thing about pawn stores
Straight after reporting the incident, we made our way to the pawn stores in the local area and I provided them with the descriptions and serial numbers of the items that were stolen.
The way these things work with pawns stores (in Australia at least) is that there are 2 major databases which store information on items that have been reported as stolen. Cash Converters, Australia’s largest pawn broking franchise, runs on the larger system that is connected to all franchises across the country. Meanwhile, the other individual or privately owned pawn shops share information using a smaller, independent database.
The thing to be aware of here is that Cash Converters and the independent pawn shops don’t actually share this information with each other. This is why it’s critical to report stolen items to both the large pawn store chain and smaller retailers so you cover both systems. I was unaware of this until I had my things stolen, so hopefully this helps if you are in a similar situation.
Later that day a Forensics Officer came over to dust our property and take photographs. Turns out the suspect left some good prints. Based on the fingerprint dust, one thief entered through the front window, stole the goods at the back, then made their way out the front door, stealing a final pair of minimalist running shoes to ensure they got a good work out on their sprint home with the stolen goods.
Soon after the Forensics Officer left, Officer ‘Shaka’ called and said they already had a suspect. That’s all he could say though, and I didn’t end up hearing anything for another few weeks.
UPDATE: Found the camera… with photos of two drugged up “lovebirds”
About a week after the forensics tests, I received a call from the Manager of a small town pawn store about an hour north of where I live. He said he had all my camera belongings. Somehow there was a couple involved which tried selling my camera gear to him. When he entered the serial number it was marked as stolen, so he scanned their IDs and confiscated the items. When he told them, the couple went wild and argued that the camera was theirs, but soon ran away when they realised he would be reporting it to the Police. Turns out they had taken a bunch of drugged-up looking photos of themselves and left it on my SD card inside the camera. More evidence from junkie criminals for the Police.
UPDATE: Police raid a suspect’s property, but they’ve disappeared
I received an update a week later from Shaka letting me know that they had executed a search warrant at a suspect’s property. They couldn’t find my remaining items, and the suspect, which was known to Police, had done a runner. They were nowhere to be seen.
Shaka told me they had a warrant out for their arrest and would let me know if they caught the suspect. With that said, he didn’t want me to get my hopes up too high, and told me that in most of these cases, the stolen property usually doesn’t get returned. This was not what I wanted to hear, but I appreciated him being direct and honest with me.
At this stage, I haven’t heard anything since getting the camera was returned and the raid was executed. The laptop, shoes and external hard drive are all still missing.
What I learnt from being robbed 1 week before launching travelmvmt.com
A few days after the incident, I was telling a close friend of mine about how my house was robbed, and how close I was to launching my website after working on the project for many months. I was irritated, stressed and it was on my mind a lot throughout the day. He simply said to me, “If you let if affect your day, they’ve won”. This made me think – about a lot of things.
It’s funny how sometimes we find ourselves asking many complicated questions and yet the shortest, most straightforward answer is the best one.
Unfortunate events are a part of life. Pain comes from expecting for things to be different than what they truly are. You can continue being upset, a slave to your situation and continue getting the same results. Or you can give yourself the time and space to absorb whatever’s going on, accept it and free your mind so that you can make move forward.
Our hindsight is 20/20. In this instance, looking back I could have avoided this entire ordeal with something as simple as keeping that one window closed that night. I could have also used pCloud, a reputable and far cheaper cloud storage alternative to Dropbox, to regularly backup my work on. This would have saved me so much time and grief by just being able to access all my website content, media, personal information, passwords and photos remotely. But walking around filled with regret offers us nothing productive. So I’ve learnt to detach and get over it, and now use this as motivation to work even harder at making travelmvmt an even better resource for people looking to travel deeper, unlock their human potential, and build a lifestyle they are proud to live.
In the grand scheme of things, this experience sucks but it’s not a big problem, really. Yes it means countless more hours were needed to work to save money to recoup my equipment, and even more time was spent working on the website getting it back up to scratch, but things could be worse.
They say that tragedy plus time equals comedy, but we’ve already seen some hilarious blunders on behalf of these criminals. Who knows what will happen next. Either way, I’ll be updating this blog to keep you in the loop of this criminal circus act!
Till the next time we have self-incriminating evidence of a suspect,
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After the theft, I started using pCloud from all the cloud storage options out there because the service is:
- An excellent backup and work sharing tool for when I’m on the road;
- Has secure file storage with manual encryption; and
- Works effectively across all devices and platforms effortlessly.