This post was written for GeoVisions by Brielle Sydor of Elon College. Brie was one of our counselors in 2012 on the Italy Summer Camp program and will be returning to Italy this summer to live and work.
While I was happy to find that many of the Italian stereotypes were true—amazing food, beautiful architecture, cute boys—there was one that was definitely less amusing: theft. Every guidebook and travel website out there will tell you to “guard your possessions with your life” while traveling through Rome or Naples, and I certainly wish I had listened to them. On not one, but TWO occasions, I had my iPhone 4 stolen from me and didn’t even realize at the time that it had happened. Those thieves are tricky; so if you are unlucky enough to have your smartphone swiped while living abroad, simply follow my (unfortunately tried-and-true) recovery plan to get yourself back to the cellular world.
Before You Leave:
If you’re the prepared type and are reading this post before you go abroad, I would definitely recommend downloading a locater app on your smartphone.
When It Happens:
Chances are, you’re consulting this article because your phone was taken and you never downloaded a location app/it isn’t working. In this situation, it’s best to contact your cellular provider and block your phone so that the thief can’t access your information or run up a huge phone bill.
Your next step is to go to the police station (“La Stazione di Polizia” in Italian) and file a report. While the odds are slim that your phone will be turned in to the police, this will give them a way of contacting you and returning it if the thief does have a change of heart. A police report also provides you with documentation you may need if you plan to file an insurance claim on your phone.
In the Mean Time:
Assuming you don’t want to buy another iPhone while you are abroad, a pay-as-you-go cell phone can be a good alternative. To add “credit” (minutes and text allowance) to your phone, simply go into any Tabacchi and tell the cashier you want €__ euros worth of credit on your phone. They will then ask for the service provider (name is typically next to service bars in upper left-hand corner of screen) and your phone number. Once the transaction is complete, you will get an Italian text saying that €__ euros have been credited to your phone. The service provider should also send you free credit-update texts after every phone call and when your credit is almost out so that you will know when to reload your phone.
While you're enjoying all that Italian food and sights, be sure to carry your bag opposite the street-side, and keep your belongings close to you and out of sight. Best of luck to you and enjoy Italy!
If you have other ideas to stay safe and to keep your personal belongings safe, please share your ideas in our Comments section below.