Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sweden - Cellphone Theft in Stockholm

I'd like to warn you if you plan to travel to Stockholm in the future. Someone stole my phone while we were eating at a cafe, and this method, according to the local police, has been commonly used in the recent two months.

Here is my full recollection of the event:

I went to Stockholm last week with two other friends of mine. We arrived around 2 PM at the train station, and after checking in at the hotel we decided to have a lunch at a cafe in one of the streets near our hotel in Kungsgatan.

The weather was nice and we decided to grab the seats outside the cafe. When I arrived from the cashier from getting some napkins, I saw a man in hoodies approached our table with a piece of A4 paper that looked like a note with some handwritten texts of a language we did not recognize. We thought he was weird, and that he was a beggar. We gave him cold what-the-hell, go-away stares and after about 10 seconds he went away.

Having a habit of taking pictures of food with my phone, I took my phone out and after taking pictures of delicious-looking quiche on my plate, I (think) I put it on the table. A few seconds after we savour our food, the man came again for the second time. This time, only about two seconds. He put the paper right on top of my dish, and more than anything else, I was annoyed.

We finished our lunch at around ten to four, and we had to leave because we signed up for a free tour around the Old City. And then I started realizing that my phone was gone when I wanted to check the time.

We ran back to the restaurant, and we could not find the phone. Three of the waitresses said that this kind of cellphone theft incident had happened 2-3 times before. I was already wondering why no action was taken if they knew that the thief operates around the area.

My friend tried to call the police, only to end up describing the whole incident for 30 minutes and was told "Thank you for the information, now please go to the police station."

To our surprise, it was difficult to find the police station because hardly anyone knows where it is. Finally, we found one at the central station, but it is closed during the weekend. Bummer!

The central police station, open during the weekends, was on the other island on the west of the station, about 10 minutes on foot. In the end, all I could do was to get a police report and hopefully it is covered by travel insurance.

So please, if you see a suspicious-looking guy approaching you, watch out for your belongings. Don't let your guard down just because Sweden, in general, is a very safe country. The man looked Eastern European, and more specifically, according to the cafe workers, a Hungarian.

I am not very good as distinguishing the Europeans, but if you see anyone suspicious approaching you, please be alert. I hope this post is useful for you, and for people whom you know of. And feel free to share this story.


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