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July 25, 2006

Thief !

In the recent hit movie "World without Thieves," the Andy Lau character and his girl friend effortlessly steal dozens of cell phones, to a background musical score, as their owners pray in front of a Buddhist temple.

I was remined of that scene two weeks ago, when a similar "artist" stole my cell phone. As I was sitting on the bus, riding to work, I happened to glance down at my cell phone holter and noticed that the phone was not there. Did I forget to take it from home? I hoped so. I suddenly had a vague recollection, though, of being bumped by someone. Could such a bump have been the occasion for a thief to grab my phone? As soon as I got to work, I called Terry and determined that I had not left the phone at home. Next, I dialed my own number. I got a message that the phone was shut off. I had watched this sequence with a friend who had his phone stolen. The first thing the thief does is turn it off, unilt he can install a new SIM card.

About this time, my memory sharpened. I recalled fighting my way onto the bus, in typicall China fashion. I recalled a big, young guy to my right, who bumped me side-to-side. I'm pretty sure that guy has my phone. Next, I reported the theft and got a replacement SIM card, keeping the same phone number, from the phone company and borrowed an extra phone from a colleague. I was back in business, without too much loss. My new SIM card still had the cash value that was on the old one, and I had taken the precaution of copying all my contacts' phone numbers onto my Palm Pilot. For my last few weeks in China, I am tying a bright green piece of twice to my phone at one end and my belt at the other end. It doesn't look good, but it is safe!

As for the thief, I am sure he is disappointed. My phone was an old, non-name brand model. If the thief had a charger (which he may not be able to find), he could sell it for no more than 100 rmb. The experience reminds me of my only similar (mis)adventure in China. Several months before we moved here, I made a short trip to make personal and business preparations. During a lunch in Suzhou with my friend and colleague, Liu Sheng, a thief stole my shoulder bag from the chair next to mine. In that case, the surely disappointed thief got two Chinese lanauge textbooks and a $100 camera. Liu Sheng, meanwhile, had important business documents and about $1000 in his bag, which the thief didn't target.

-- Norty

Posted by now at July 25, 2006 01:41 PM