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Stolen iPhone Bogota Colombia…lessons learned + what not to do
“It took four different phone calls on four different days with long ass hold times for Verizon to successfully activate my new eSIM.”

My trip to Colombia started out with a BANG…a stolen iPhone in Bogota Colombia.
A guy on a motorbike swiped my iPhone 11 Pro Max right out of my hand. Jason Bourne style.
Get the play-by-play of the heist here.

Fair warning, this blog post is more tactical in nature.
Basically, the Do’s, Don’ts, Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned…
For getting your phone stolen in a foreign country.

First things first…
Under zero circumstances get your phone stolen in a foreign country.
I can’t emphasize this enough.

It really fucking sucks!
Like 192 hours [aka 8 days] worth of work and $1,500+ later kind of suck. 

I swear to God this was the first time Apple, Assurant, and/or Verizon dealt with a stolen phone in a foreign country.
If not, it certainly felt like it. 

My two saving graces were…
My Spanish speaking friend in Bogota and my boyfriend.

My poor boyfriend…
He ended up doing the majority of the work from Vancouver.
And, my friend in Bogota had to help me call multiple Mac Center locations, communicate with the Mac Center staff, and merge calls between me, my boyfriend, and the call center agents.

I would’ve been royally fucked if I didn’t have my friend in Bogota, access to her phone, and a boyfriend who was willing to sit on hold multiple days in a row with all these companies.

But, if your phone gets stolen in a foreign country, you’ll want to read the below.

  • None of the international hotline numbers worked from my friend’s phone in Colombia.
  • Apple wouldn’t release information to my boyfriend, but they also informed me that they couldn’t call me back internationally. WTF am I supposed to do with that?!
  • The replacement phone insurance claim [Assurant] I created from Apple’s website generated a claim number but it didn’t actually go through, because Assurant’s website can’t be accessed internationally.
  • The deductible for the replacement phone was 80% higher than it was advertised on Apple’s website [$269 vs. $149].
  • Assurant couldn’t ship the replacement phone internationally, so I ended up having to come out of pocket for a brand-new iPhone 12. It didn’t make sense for me to stay if I didn’t have a nice camera to capture footage.
  • They also wouldn’t ship the replacement phone to a PO Box at a UPS Store in Arizona, because a signature was required. I was in Colombia and my boyfriend was in Vancouver, British Columbia. Thankfully, I shipped it to my boyfriend’s executive assistant that lives in Arizona. I know everyone has an executive assistant on speed dial, right? <eye-roll>
  • It took four different phone calls on four different days with long ass hold times for Verizon to successfully activate my new eSIM. This was crucial, because the following accounts are linked to my phone number – iMessage, WhatsApp, Uber, and 2-factor authentication via SMS [Amazon, Financial Institutions, etc.]. 

Seriously, what the absolute FUCK?!

Oh…don’t let me forget the residual fall-out. 

Uber declined all forms of payment for some weird ass reason.
Airbnb locked me out of both of my accounts,
And, wouldn’t let me book more than one experience in a row.
Despite verifying through my bank and calling every credit card company. 

If things weren’t bad enough, Chase Sapphire mailed a new card while I was in Colombia.
It was sitting in an envelope on my living room floor in Scottsdale, Arizona.
And, somehow they activated the new CVV and Expiration Date without me doing it.
So, on some online transactions it accepted my old ones and on others it didn’t.

Okay. What did I learn from this experience?

  • When a dude on a motorbike abruptly swerves towards you they’re most likely not going to hit you or are parking nearby. They want to steal your shit. So, turn away or kick the motorbike over. I’m assuming the former is a better solution, but let me know what happens if you try kicking over a dude on a motorbike.
  • If you like to travel, always pay more for AppleCare+ vs. regular AppleCare. It covers not only damage, but loss and theft as well. 
  • Even if a verified Apple reseller, Mac Center, says you can’t add AppleCare+ to a new device, you can add it online up to 60 days after purchase via the Serial Number on the Apple website. 
  • Make sure you have iCloud backing up your photos/videos as frequently as possible. I pay for the 2TB option. It’s expensive but so worth it in the grand scheme of things. I lost ~150 photos/videos from an epic hike I just finished right before my phone was stolen [be sure to check out Monserrate in Bogota]. I went to lunch after the hike, but the WiFi connection was too weak to upload them.
  • It’s good to have a tool/app that masks your IP Address. It makes you look like you’re in another country when you’re not. Having this would’ve helped me submit my claim to Assurant, use certain voice/text applications, and use streaming services like HBO, Netflix, CraveTV, and Hulu. I ended up purchasing NordVPN after this debacle. Luckily, they were running a Christmas/Holiday special, and I got 2 years of service for $90. Plus, it works on all of my devices. 
  • Have someone you trust back home who can help you with this shit if it happens to you. I ended up granting my boyfriend access to a lot of my accounts – including Apple, iCloud, Verizon, & my personal Gmail account. And, I didn’t even change my passwords after the fact.

That’s a lot of lessons learned.
Please God, if there is one, never again.
I never want to deal with another stolen iPhone situation again.

Before I departed Bogota on December 24, 2020…
I returned to the scene of the crime to give a play-by-play of the snatch and grab that occurred on December 2, 2020 at 2:30PM local time.
Check out the full story and video here

If you found one or more of these bullets helpful, show this blog post some love.
And, let me know what bullet resonated with you the most.

Question time! Have you had anything stolen while traveling?
Comment your answers below. I’ll be reading!

If you’re anything like me…
I need access to data 24/7, and I hate fucking fees and wasting money!
So, be sure to check out my new SIM Card and Credit Card strategy blog posts.

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