We just got back from a short trip to Costa Rica’s Caribbean side. I think it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and Puerto Viejo has some of the best food. While we were out enjoying this food one night, the vacation rental we were staying at got broken into.
The robbers took two Macbook Pros, two iPads, one iPad2, a digital camera, binoculars, an electric razor, three very nice backpacks, and some other small stuff like my daughter’s underwear and crayons. We felt sick when we discovered this, and the kids were really scared that they might come back. I felt stupid for bringing so much with me, but I thought our stuff would be safer near me than back at our house which was unoccupied for a few days. I guess I was wrong.
Fortunately, I left our passports home, or they may have been stolen, too. I was also glad I had my wallet and iPhone with me, and Jen had her purse, so we didn’t lose any important documents, except for our yellow fever vaccination certificates. My mom was also staying with us, but in a different part of the house with better security. Her laptop was actually upstairs with ours, but she had hid it well, so didn’t lose anything. I’m so glad about that.
We filed a police report, and investigators supposedly took fingerprints the day after we left. But it sounds like a lost cause. Neighbors say they’re pretty sure who did it – a group of local troublemakers from Playa Chiquita whom even the police are afraid of. My only hope is that the tracking software I’ve installed will kick in and tell me where they’re at. But perhaps they’ve already reformatted and sold the computers.
Bad things happen sometimes. But life always goes on, and things do get better. Hopefully we can learn from our experiences, and grow.
This experience taught me that even though we try to live light, we still have too much stuff. Seriously, do we each need our own computer and iPad? And do we really need to take them on little trips? These things often just distract from the fun we came to experience anyway. Computers have a way of keeping us in our own little worlds instead of interacting with each other. Maybe we can use this opportunity to practice reducing our time on the computer.
Despite our loss (worth over $5,000), there are a few things that have brought me comfort, and a few things I will do differently from now on. First, the things that brought me comfort:
- All my important files are encrypted and password protected through Mac sparsebundles, so the thieves won’t be able to access any bank accounts or other sensitive information.
- All my important files are backed up on-line through mozy.com, including pictures, and the book I’m writing.
- All my passwords are stored securely using Keepass and backed up through Mozy and dropbox.
- Tracking software called Prey is installed on one of the Macbooks, which takes pictures of the offender and emails them to me along with other information. One of the iPads also has FindMyIPad on it which gives me their exact GPS location. Unfortunately, they need to get on-line for these programs to be of use.
- The burglars didn’t break in while we were home, and I’m so glad that my family is safe.
- We can afford to replace the stolen items if we want to.
- I still have an 11″ Macbook Air which we left at home, so I can work and access the on-line world. We even have a couple old PC’s for Jen and kids to use. (I meant to sell them, but never got around to it.)
- I purchased the iPad2 with my American Express card just one month ago, so it’s still covered by their Purchase Protection program (allows 90 days), so I may get reimbursed for that purchase.
Here is what I’m going to change:
- I will install Prey on all my computers. I will also create Guest accounts without passwords, making it easy for the thief to get on-line so I can track him.
- When traveling, I will hide my valuables when I leave the hotel or house, put them in a safe, or take them with me. My backpack is not a hiding place.
- Keep a record of all the serial numbers of my devices to make them easier to track.
- I’m not going to replace the camera, binoculars, or ipads right away. My iPhone4 will work okay as a camera. It even does HD video. I probably won’t even get a new Macbook yet. I want to see how we do as is for a while.
- I’ll make sure my passport and other documents are always hidden in a safe place.
It’s sad to me that some people feel justified in robbing others. There are so many ways to earn money honestly, even if you have to create them yourself. The book I’m writing teaches a lot about creating your own income source. I wish I knew who the robbers were so I could send them a copy… after I kick ’em in the shins, of course (and take my stuff back).
Anyway, I hope that some of the precautions I’m taking now will help prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.