Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

The Psychology of Being Robbed


It was a classic tale of utter stupidity. Most crimes against the average Joe (or Josephine) are opportunist. If I hadn’t whisked out the phone to take a snap in a crowded place; if I’d stowed it away again in my secure pocket and not in a side pocket;  if I hadn’t taken my hand off it;  if I’d realized quicklyt enough that the young woman who bumped into me was a thief and not just a rude person………you get my drift?

It was the most stupid place on the island to let down my guard, and I don’t even know why I did – because I was in a familiar place? Sunday, car boot sale in Guaza, a melting pot of humanity, including always some suspect and weird folk. Since I’ve been downsizing for years now, bit by bit, I’ve sold things at this sale several times, and never had so much as a paper clip knicked – perhaps because I always keep my wits about me, and often take my dog.  Last Sunday, however, I was just visiting a friend who was doing the market, but clearly I’d let my previous good fortune and my familiarity with the place make me too relaxed.

I’ve been through the anger, the upset and the depression, and now I am blaming myself. Are we justified in doing this? I’m certainly not the only blogger who’s been robbed and observed afterwards that they should have been more alert, both Dave from Medellin Living and Matthew from Expert Vagabond have written about being robbed in recent months, and whilst my loss isn’t as scary as Dave’s (at gunpoint!) nor as devastating as Matthew’s (his laptop on which he totally relies for his work – but read his post to see how he is getting his revenge!), my heart still sank to my boots when I realized that my Blackberry was gone, and when I yelled expletives it was myself I was yelling at as much as the thief.

I’m guessing there are few of us who haven’t been robbed somehow or other in this modern world, and one thing I learned is that it happens everywhere. When folk tutted about the theft of my handbag years ago here in Tenerife, implying that it was the island’s fault, I was able to retort that only five days previously I’d had a bag stolen from a car in England. It had happened to me twice before over the years in UK, and I can honestly say that it was partly my own fault, in as much as I let down my guard in every case for the split seconds it took.  But, honestly, shouldn’t we be able to do that? Shouldn’t we be able to relax and carry on our normal lives without being suspicious of everyone who passes us by? Normally I’m alert to the possibilities of theft, I hide stuff, I choose where I walk at night, I’m aware of what’s going on around me, but it only takes a moment and all that vigilance was useless.

Of course, the loss of the phone will be hard. I can’t just go out and buy another Blackberry, it was part of the deal with the contract I took out with Vodafone, that I  paid only €24 for it, and I am already missing the convenience of seeing Twitter and Facebook and email updates without having to turn on my computer. Most of all I miss being able to contact my sons whenever I want to because I had Blackberry Messenger. I certainly can’t afford to SMS them as much, nor the close friends who have WhatsAp.  I suspect strongly that the thief is better off than I am. I like my techie stuff these days, my laptop, my camera, my ipod and I did enjoy my phone, but I don’t spend money on much else the way I once did, say on clothes, wine or dining out and entertainment. I suppose it’s a matter of one’s priorities in life, and it’s wrong that I scrimp and save for stuff to risk it being stolen. From where do thieves get the mentality that if they want something they can just take it, regardless of from whom they steal? Yeah, I know there are much, much worse stories, old folk being half -beaten to death for a few dollars, or people with serious injuries after being mugged.

I just want to vent this anger at the whole mindset.  I want to stamp my feet and cry and get back at someone. Mostly I want all those lovely pix and memories that were in the fotos and videos on the phone back. That’s the thing which always hurts most. Even though I can’t afford it, it isn’t the monetary value it’s the sentimental stuff you can’t replace, and I hate the person who took my phone for stealing a part of me, and also for making me stupid.




Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

14 thoughts on “The Psychology of Being Robbed

  1. Such a problem in Barcelona. I feel your pain!

  2. Such a shame that that happened to you. I’d be angry too, and I know exactly what you mean about losing the memories. So sorry. 😦

  3. I know exactly what you’re going through. The feeling of violation – the reaction of “How dare they take something I’ve worked hard for?” We have been robbed and burgled so much in our lives – in Algeria, the UK and the carjacking here in 2009 that I have got used to the awful sinking feeling when you realise what has happened. The last time was definitely the worst, as Tarik was nearly killed and there was violence involved. BUT – my mother-in-law always told a story of some poor peasants welcoming a stranger into their home and the next morning finding their cow dead and realising that the stranger was, in fact, the angle of death. When they were lamenting the loss of their cow, the angel said that he had intended to take the man’s wife but that he had been so warmly welcomed. he had decided to take the cow instead. Basically, let fate rob you of any material gods it wants, as long as it leaves you and yours intact.

    • I know. I’ve heard that story told a different way. You should have seen the post I wrote and didn’t publish when I was really mad and a little tipsy on Sunday night! I sat & watched “Friends” reruns, and they never fail to make me laugh! So I felt better afterwards :=) Financially, it’s a bummer, but it’s those pix and videos I am most angry about. I feel like how dare this scum look at photos of my kids, holding trophies for running, hiking, starting a new job, doing volunteer work, Christmas time and all.

  4. Totally understand your anger. In Barcelona, there are 400 reported thefts a day and untold hundreds more. I have been robbed three times, every friend and friend of theirs has been robbed. Victims need not blame themselves. The thieves are fast, smart, and well practiced. It is so natural to blame ourselves. WE are not at fault. And where are the cops in Barcelona? Talking about their tans and getting laid and not doing anything.

    • It’s an odd thing. Mostly folk let down their guard when they are on vacation, and do things and are lax about not doing things they wouldn’t dream of doing/not doing at home. The two places in Europe where warnings are strongest from memory were Barcelona and Rome. In both places I clung tight to my possessions. In fact, I do here too normally, which is why I feel so stupid, but of course you are totally right it isn’t the victim’s “fault”. Ironically, now I am pretty sure that I can identify when it happened, two seconds later we saw two Guadia Civil, but of course, I didn’t know I’d been robbed at the time!

  5. You have my wholehearted sympathy and I think that at the very end of your totally understandable rant is the sad thing that most people are left with is ‘feeling stupid’. this is usually not really the right feeling. You are not stupid for trusting the rest of the world and being somewhat open to life and experience. I do think it is a sad sign of the times and also that more people carry things which are valuable like Kindle, mobile, laptop etc etc. all so easy to steal and make money from. I am sure as you say it is the contact with loved ones that you’re missing most and the loss of things stored. your Blackberry will not make the theif as happy as it made you feel when you first got it under much nicer circumstances.

  6. Indeed it is more of a problem these days, isn’t it, or richer pickings for this scum, as you say, we carry much more valuable stuff than we once did. I’ve seen people, especially women, do some pretty stupid things here, like leave a handbag on a sunbed and go for a swim……like why do they need a handbag on the beach?? Or the don’t trust hotel security and carry all their holiday cash and passports around with them in a beach bag which doesn’t even zip up & now I feel in the same category!

  7. Really sad to read this post Linda. Were the pics & vids not backed up ? I guess one of the benefits of digital is that loss of the actual hardware (eg the photo album, if you can consider it as hardware, or the VHS tapes) need not mean the loss of the data, memories, emotions … in fact you can even back up to a server somewhere else on the planet, then you’ll be OK even your house burns down !

    Re all these mobile tech gadgets … I (and I think Nikki as well) tend to do without them. Anything to do with screens is done in our work rooms (include all the non-work, social networking, fun stuff such as commenting on your splendid blog 🙂 and when we shut down the Macs and close the door, that’s it.

    One of the reasons is that personally I hate viewing or doing anything on a small screen / small keyboard. Compared to how everything (your wonderful pics for instance) look on my 24″ iMac, mobile devices are just plain disappointing and frustrating to work with.

    Another reason is that we are quite simply not as mobile as we used to be ! I don’t mean that we’re getting old and decrepit (although of course we are … gradually 🙂 but that since moving to Tenerife we don’t travel like we used to. We’re very happy with what’s here, and one of the things we gave up when we down-shifted was travel (luckily though, we did plenty of it before we moved here). So we don’t really need all these battery powered communication screens.

    We do of course have mobile phones … but they’re pre-paid cheapos that in my case is only used to make calls (no point in calling my mobile – it’s switched off !). This does have the advantage that a thief would only get away with enough booty for perhaps a ceveza 🙂

    • Thank you for commiserating – no I hadn’t backed them up. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid all round. Still blame myself partly for losing it – I should have been more aware, given where I was, but I’ve stopped beating myself up now, thanks to the adventure Austin supplied :=) Next time I will, definitely, back up, no matter the cost! That said, it wasn’t their value as photos but their sentimental value, pix the boys had sent me when they were doing something special, like Guy winning a 10K or Austin with a seabird they had rescued, plus little video from when we went rappelling. I hadn’t downloaded that to the computer because I was moving house and couldn’t find the cable.

      I used to be where you are re: cellphones, when Austin was here and had a landline, and Guy living in the US so the time difference and cost really excluded mobile communication, I was happy with my little Nokia just for texting to make arrangements with friends, but with the Blackberry I had WhatsApp and BB Messenger, so the texting was almost free, and it’s been great to have such easy and free communication with Guy, and now that Austin is going to England too, more important than ever. I almost never used it for calls, and it was convenient to know I could see when an important email arrived (or didn’t) without having to log on the computer or return home. I am really missing it a lot. The photos were a bonus and fun. I could “share” my birthday dinner with Guy in England, for instance.

  8. 😦 Sorry to hear that. Especially about photos that aren’t recoverable. As to the BlackBerry, perhaps you can pick one up on the used market? Not so old devices can be found relatively cheaply as many people get caught up in the constant upgrade-to-the-latest frenzy.

    • No, I stupidly, stupidly didn’t back it up. First thing my son, Guy, said when I told him, was, “Did you get BB Protect, like I told you to when you got it?” Of course, I hadn’t, simply lazy I think. I can’t remember the cost, because that is always crucial for me these days too. In May I can cash in my “points” for a new phone, so I may wait. Trouble is that means a new contract too, and because I am ready to move on probably before 18 months are up (the length of a mobile phone contract here) perhaps second-hand is a good idea. I’m asking around. One thing about living in a resort island is that folk are always coming and going. Thank you for the sympathy and the advice!

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