Monday, 21 January 2019

Retrieving Phone — Through Tracking App — From Some Thug Who Found It

While walking Dahab last night somehow my phone fell in the street. An intoxicated punk picked up 10 minutes later when I called using a stranger’s phone, saying he’s in Beheira — that’s a coastal governorate located 160 Km (100 mi) away from Cairo! Uhm. I offered him money once he gives it back, but again he insisted he’s in said place, saying come take it from there. Hm. So I knew he’s screwing around.

You know through one button I could make the phone completely useless and you will not be able to do anything with it,” I sternly explained. He shouted back some profanities.

Look, I have lots of business material of that device. Just give it back and I’ll pay you,” carrying on with a calmer tone.

“OK, come take it from Beheira.”

Alright then. Thank you very much” and hung up. Wanker. 

Now, this was around 10:15 pm and Vodafone store closes at 11. I knew I probably had to cancel the line so that he doesn’t use it. Then again, without the code he wouldn’t have been able to. I still needed a phone to make some calls and be able to find my phone. There, I was told that they cannot help me much. Either cancel the line, and get another SIM card with the same number; this way I won’t be able to reach my phone or the punk — or so I thought. Or as I have chosen, get a new “prepaid” sim with a new number and use it on my old phone until I see if relocating the lost one would lead to anything. I was hopeful, yet a tad skeptical.  

Back home, I turned the tracking app “Find my iPhone” on and could instantly see where he was — which is more or less where I must have dropped. I chose “Lost Mode”, which locks the device, displays a custom message while turning on tracking. This works even if phone is off and/or location services was initially disabled.

I was then reminded by Find My Phone. This is a short film with 7 million views on YouTube made by a Dutch student and filmmaker, Anthony van der Meer, who for two weeks followed the man who stole his phone from Amsterdam to Berlin to France while tracking his every move until he located and saw him. Though he was using a specially installed spyware to be able to do so. Watch it if you haven’t. But let me spoiler alert you by saying that the guy who stole the student’s phone turned out to be Egyptian. Ha-Ha.

Afterwards, I took the entire laptop since the old phone didn’t have enough credit — or so I imagined — the porter and another guy and headed there. By mere coincidence, me botherman Bops had called me a couple of hours earlier, saying that he will be coming to see me — after not meeting for several weeks. So he met us there as well. He was the missing link as he was the one with Internet on his iPhone who magically materialised out of thin air a couple of minutes after ringing him to see if he was anywhere nearby. Neato!

Following the dot across the street, we arrived at a coffee shop. They went in as I remained outside to spot anyone who tries to run away to the left or right. Also, I did not want to be seen from the start. Because maybe whoever had it knows how I look; either from photos on the phone or he saw me when I dropped it. But a minute through, I decided to follow them in to see what’s up. The four of us sure looked dodgy: Bops silently staring at his phone, myself with the laptop case in hand, the porter looking like an actual thug himself, and then the fourth guy who had the appearance of some sort of secret police. 

When the manager who came to greet us asked Bops if we wanted to sit down, the latter replied that we’re waiting for someone — still staring at his phone and almost avoiding all eye contact. Another minute or so was spent looking around suspiciously at everyone’s hands and phones inside the coffee shop before we all went out. I thought we ought to tell the manager so I asked him to come join us. Starting with how I dropped the phone about an hour prior, to the guy who answered me, to “Find my Phone”. Then when I said the city’s name, Beheira, he paused for a moment, as if thinking of a certain someone.

By then more staff had arrived and all seemed quite helpful. There we were staring at Bops’ phone on which we could see the dot, or my phone, moving all over the place — perhaps the guy was trying to escape from the back of the coffee shop or just hiding inside.

One of the staff asked me if he sounded thug-ish when we spoke, to which I replied a solid YES. “Hm”. Once again, this one seemed like he had someone in mind. 

After gathering all this attention, we decided to click on the “Play Sound” button, which makes the phone ring even if on silent. About 20 seconds later one guy standing by a side door looked like he could hear the siren-like ring.

Then lo and behold, an Arab-looking man came out from the building with my phone in hand; he was followed by the punk. 

“He’s a crazy guy, as not very stable in head, and you got your phone and blabla…,” the guy trying to sooth the situation. 

I put the retrieved phone in my pocket before asking: “This is him?”

 Standing right in front of the culprit while starring straight in his eyes: “So you nick my phone and then you swear at me? What guts!

I didn’t answer. I found it there,” replying with a plastered, drugged up voice.

I didn’t answer. I found it there,” I repeated with my own version of a plastered, drugged-up voice to make fun of him. “Asshole! - عرص” I found myself shouting. He tried to answer, but Bops who was then closer to him was faster: Zewwww! A right upper cut landed on the tosser’s face. He tried to kick Bops but the crowd had already carried him away, while others stood in front of me so I don’t attack.

I screamed another “Cunt! - خول” as they took him inside the building. “You’re going to be hanged from your feet.” This is what police often does in the stations with certain people. “I already called the chief police. How do you employ such people, if he is a real nutter? We are all crazy, but we don’t do this,” directing my words to a couple of managers.

“We are exceedingly sorry about that,” everyone was so apologetic, there was nothing else for us to do but to calm down, be happy and grateful I got my phone back, and just leave. The bloody bugger could have made a 100 Quids or probably more. Now everyone he works with know he’s a wannabe thief, he got smacked on the face also in front of everyone, and he didn’t get the money he could have easily made. Pf.

I was told later by the porter that he answered one of his calls, saying call me back in 10 minutes, as to make a deal. Probably after he was done with his shift. Maybe he realised by then that he was not capable of using the device since it had been locked. Oh Well Oh Well. Too late, sucker!

The manager left us with another apology, which prompted me to apologise myself for the loud shambles. We then crossed the street to get into Bops’s car and drove off — just like A-Team or like badass bank robbers after a successful heist.

You see, I wasn’t just scaring the guy off; for I had really used my connections to call a high-rank official and they were actually expecting me at the station. Instead however, I chose to take matters into my own hands and sort it out meself ... and got the phone back. Coo Coo Ca-Choo.

The police would have filed a report, but would have probably not come with me, even if I had shown them the Find My Phone app as proof. This is not because we are in Egypt, but it’s the same story almost everywhere around the world, whether in North America or Europe — as seen in Find my Phone short documentary from The Netherlands. Ironically, the dude who stole the phone from the Dutch guy is Egyptian.Yeah. The whole documentary, added below, is about the owner tracking his own phone using technology.

Writing the report was also going to take some time, and I didn’t want the “dot” to disappear, possibly once and for all. 

What encouraged me is that I could see the phone was fixed in one location, right by my house, and this is my neighbourhood which I know pretty well. Also it was around midnight, and only three shops nearby the coffee shop are open then, which we did check out before the arrival of Superman Bops. Then again, the app was so precise, it was obvious he was in that coffee place. Kudos, Find My iPhone, and a big warm thank you. 
Technology, Bitchez  *Mic Drop

So well played. One more street action memory for Bops and I. 20 years later and we still got it, Baby. Don’t mess with the Zohan. But do read The Night We Turned ‘Beast Mode’ On if you want to be acquainted with our wild past.

P.S.: Girls and Boys, let us be clear that I do not condone violence in any way, shape, or form. Even with those who have wronged us, it never helps. Sometimes, though, things like that just happen and we make a story out of them, some more entertaining than others. But everyone loves a good story. Let alone one with a happy existential ending: Getting your lost phone back.

Over and Out. Now you can watch the documentary. 


The Night We Turned ‘Beast Mode’ On

Banged Up Abroad — My Few Days @ The Don Jail

The Bloke Who Thought I’m Too Much of an Alpha Male

Stop-n-Search That Hippy

The Night I Became a Stripper

Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Officer Roberts

Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: The Coke Prank

Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Sergeant Pepper

Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Evolution
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