An Open Letter To The Person Who Took My iPhone

On Tuesday, December 15th, after leaving the Goodwill store on my lunch hour, I came back to the office and realized my cell phone was not on me.  Or in my car.  I knew I had it on me in the store and recollect having put it down on a shelf in the book aisle so that I could have both hands free.  I ran right back down the street, into the store and down the aisle to find it not there. Nor turned in.  It was taken.

Below is an account of what I had gone through over the course of 3.5 hours in an open letter to the individual who took my phone.

Who Took My Phone

Dear Thief,

Yes, that’s kind of a harsh intro.  As a Christian woman I’m charged to walk in love so that my behavior is a constant testimony to those I come in contact with.  But that doesn’t mean I’ll just roll over when I’m wronged or be afraid to say it like it is.  Honesty is a virtue and to lie is a sin.  So, in all honesty, I will not lie in saying……you’re a thief.

I’m trying to imagine what went through your mind when you saw the cell phone I accidentally left on a shelf at the store.  “Oh, dear.  Some poor person left their phone here.  They’re probably going crazy trying to retrace their steps to find it.  Let me turn it over to the cashier in case they come back.”

If only.  If only you had done the right thing, I wouldn’t have gone through what I did for the last two days.  The anxiety, stress, time, headache, stomach ache and money you sucked out of me because of your dishonest decision turned my day upside-down.  All because you kept what was not yours.  Because you took what did not belong to you.

Because you’re a thief.

I’m sure you were moseying around that Goodwill store around 1pm on Tuesday the 15th.  We may have even passed each other.  Or maybe I was too deep into digging through the stationery bin or perusing some vintage cookbooks to even notice you. Or perhaps I was busy replying to an email chain between two co-workers.  Or taking a photo of a piece of furniture I passed on the way out to show my husband.  Those were the only aisles I was down before leaving to go back to my office which was only 3 blocks away.

And when I got inside, I realized my phone wasn’t in my tote.  Nor was it in the console of my car.  Or had fallen between the seats.  The only other possibility was that I had put it down on one of the shelves whose aisle I was down in order to use both hands rather than put it back in my tote.

Back I went to the store and down the aisles I visited only to find my phone nowhere to be found.  I immediately went to the cashier to see if it was turned in.  No dice.  She was then kind enough to call my phone, as the ringer I had turned up upon entering the store would allow me to hear it.  It immediately went to voice mail – an indication that it had been turned off.  And not by me.  By someone else.  By you.  Someone who had saw it and made the wrong decision – the one to maybe tuck it in your pocket or purse and sneak it out of the store, thinking you’ve scored a sweet iPhone 6+ rather than think of it’s ‘true’ owner going out of their mind looking for it.

Why you turned it off?  Well, I can think of several reasons.  You probably wanted to see if it would override the passcode so you can look around it.  Or that you didn’t want to be found with the Find My Phone location tracker. Or maybe you didn’t want to chance it being in your possession while I had the cashier call it – catching you red-handed.  Oh, no, you were much smarter than that.  Even once you found it still asking for a passcode once you turned it back on, deeming it useless to you, you still made the wrong decision to not turn it in.

Nor did you even think about what your thieving decision would cost me.  After frantically searching around the store and having the cashier call several more times, I left the store, called my boss and told him what happened.  He was super-understanding about it, told me to relax, take a breath and do whatever I needed to do.  What a great guy, huh?  Too bad you didn’t have the same consideration or else – again – I wouldn’t have gone through all this mess.

I rushed to the AT&T store where an even more super guy assisted me.  We called up my phone number on iCloud, put a lock on it as well as a message:

“If you have this phone, please call ______ to return it.  Or, please return to the cashier at Goodwill – no questions asked.”

By doing this, if you – the thief – turned the phone on again, the lock would show up as well as this message.  I bet you did try to turn it on again and saw it.  I bet you didn’t think I was able to act so fast. I bet it freaked you out.  I hope it did.  Because that’s exactly what you were putting me through.  Just multiply it by 10.  All your plans to possibly make a bunch of calls at my expense, use the wifi to scour the ‘net, maybe get into my apps to see if I had any card information stored so you could purchase stuff at my expense or attempt to use/peruse my email to try to extract personal information you could use for your gain all just came crashing down.  I bet you weren’t thinking I’d be able to swiftly shut down whatever plans you had.  Just like you weren’t thinking of doing the right thing as soon as you saw my phone.

Because I had an old backup of the phone on iTunes, I decided to have the phone’s sim card wiped out while in iCloud.  So, even if you were able to figure out my passcode and get past the lock (although the super-duper AT&T guy told me it was virtually impossible without the code) you’d have a deleted phone.  SuperGuy even told me that the phone is practically worthless if it can’t be accessed and that the only thing you might be able to get out of it is to have someone with the know-how to open it up to get the parts or perhaps sell it on the street.

All the hassle and stress it caused me was worth it if it meant that I thwarted every single thieving plan you had.  I hope you’re feeling like the idiot thief you are.  You cost me time at my job, $149 for the insurance deductible for a replacement phone, $50 for a new Otter Box, fuel driving back and forth to the stores and almost two hours last night on the phone with AT&T customer support (where, yet, another Super Guy assisted me) to activate the phone, set up my new passcode, voice mail, etc.  then having to re-download and re-establish all my apps, have my business and work Outlook email set up, put my rewards cards into my passbook.

I then had to recreate what I could not restore. All my contacts and phone numbers that had not made the backup.  There were the texts that I lost – from my  family – my sister, brother and elderly parents who live in other states- boss, co-workers, friends and clients.  There was a recent photo I took of my parents when I went to visit them last in October.  That’s gone too (but, fortunately, for you – thief – I sent it to my brother and sister so I can get it back from them)

But aside from contacts, photos, texts and emails, you had no idea who I was or what I may have been going through the day you lifted my phone.  How did you know I wasn’t awaiting a call regarding a loved one who was in surgery?  Or from a potential employer who I had interviewed with? Or from my parent’s next door neighbor trying to get a hold of me for an emergency? Or from a client who was waiting for me to text her upon my return from Goodwill that afternoon so she could swing by and drop off her work?  Or from the roofing laborer who was helping my husband install shingles at his building to tell me he fell off and was being rushed to the hospital?

Oh, you mean you didn’t think these things when you lifted my phone?  You didn’t think what I may be going through looking for it?  You didn’t think that my phone was an integral part of my business to stay in contact with my clients?  You didn’t think that I may’ve been waiting on an urgent call?  Or text?  Or how I would be able to get in contact with those people to let them know because their contact information was in my phone (and their hard files were inconveniently at my house)?


Sorry for the shout.  No, wait, NOT sorry.  You stole from me.  You STOLE from me.  You took time, piece of mind and money in the course of a few hours.  I hope you’re happy.  I hope you’re proud.  I hope it was worth it.  And I’m being kind saying that.  When I told my 85 year old mom what happened, she said, “I hope their hands fall off.”  You don’t mess with her kid!

My replacement phone has arrived and is partially set up.  I still have lots to do, but that’s okay – I’ll get through it.  You see, Pastor Charles Swindoll has this saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you handle it.”  Though under a tremendous amount of stress, I handled it.

Tell me – how are you handling thinking you made some sweet score only to wind up having everything shut down in your face?


The owner of the iPhone 6+ with the light-gray Otter Box you stole


I usually don’t ask readers to share posts.  Only if they feel so inclined to do so.  But if you feel the pull, I’d appreciate it if you did.  You never know if it might wind up being read by someone who may come across someone’s phone one day and tossed between temptation and doing the right thing.  Maybe having them read what I went through (or what I potentially could’ve gone through) will encourage them to do the latter.


7 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Person Who Took My iPhone

  1. Elana, I’m so sorry to read this. Especially with smartphones, we have so many components of our lives on that thing. I feel your frustration. A couple phones ago, I went through that dilemma. It was just a simple slider messaging phone, but the pictures and text messages were precious to me. I”m glad you were able to retrieve at least some of the lost information and pictures.

    • Fortunately, I did not have too much personal stuff on it. The only apps I had was Instagram, Pinterest and some couponing ones. No Paypal, banking, etc. that they could’ve tried to use to pay for things. There are some things I just don’t trust having on my phone.

  2. I have a mini moment of “oh no!” if I forget that I put my phone in my pocket while in the store instead of putting it back in my purse – I cannot image how much worse that would be if the phone was actually gone. I commend you for being able to, not only, find out it was gone so quickly, but to get ahold of Apple so quickly to shut everything down. I am so sorry you had to go through all of it, though, things like that are never fun in any way. Also, love what your mom said – should totally be a real thing.

    • Mom’s a tough broad. Really, you tango with her kids (and the oldest is 66!) you’ll know hell on earth. This is a woman who, after shattering her shoulder at 83, came home from rehab and began putting clothes in the washing machine with her left hand. I swear the woman is a Timex watch!

  3. […] I not only embarked on making homemade, edible gifts for the first time, but also the stress of having my phone stolen. However, it also caused me to ponder what direction I want current content to go in or….if […]

  4. I understand your frustration. My daughter went through something similar a few months ago. We had purchased her a new phone for her birthday and it was only six months old when she left it laying on her desk at school to step out of the room and go with the rest of the class into an adjacent building room. When she returned, the phone was gone. Even though security was called and everyone in the class searched before allowed to leave, the phone was gone. Because the classroom door was open, they are assuming someone just stepped in and picked it up off her desk and took off quickly. The phone was never recovered, she was very upset, and it took hours to fix everything. We had to do the emergency shut down and her “thief” had turned off her phone as well to avoid it being tracked. It was a frustrating situation for me and for her.

    Thieves are a toxin on this society. I tend to side with your mother, I hope their hands fall off.

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