My Miami Trip
It was my first night in Miami for my cousin’s bachelorette party and someone stole my phone case and wallet right out of my purse. My driver’s license, phone and credit cards were gone. My heart sank and my stomach dropped. We were at the club for five minutes and everything that had my name on it was in someone else’s hands.
I spent about half an hour watching surveillance footage with a security officer and spotted the guy who practically ran off the screen as soon as he got what he wanted. He was long gone. I felt numb to see it all unfold. The only thing left for me to do was to leave. My sister, who was one of the 17 girls who flew out to Miami, went back with me to our AirBnB down the street.
As soon as we got back, I broke down. I was exhausted, frustrated and upset. After catching my breath, I had to face the reality that my problem was not going to solve itself. This all happened Thursday night and I was flying home to Chicago on Saturday afternoon. Within the week, I had most of my stolen items replaced. Here’s what I did to be in control of the situation so the situation wasn’t in control of me.
The 6 Things
1. File a police report.
The security officer told me to call the Miami Beach Police Department as soon as possible. When we got back to the AirBnB, I called right away and spoke with a police officer who asked me to explain everything that happened. He gave me a case number, his name and his ID number. He also told me what to do when I get to the airport. More on that later.
2. Cancel credit cards.
In my wallet, I had a personal credit card, business credit card, personal debit card, and a blank check. I called the credit card companies after I got off the phone with the MBPD to report my cards stolen. The credit card companies closed my accounts and sent me new cards with new account numbers within a week. They also asked if I filed a police report, so I gave them my case number as well.
3. Cancel debit cards and close bank accounts.
I waited until the morning to call my bank because they were not open at 2 AM Friday morning. I canceled and ordered a new debit card that was linked to one of my checking accounts, which I also received after about a week. I had to close another bank account since my blank check had my account and routing numbers on there.
4. Report stolen phone to provider.
I needed to get some sleep before calling my phone provider, so I waited until the next morning to report that my phone was stolen. They had also asked about my case number from my police report, so I shared that with them as well. They suspended service to my phone so no one could make any calls from my number.
5. File an insurance claim for your phone.
Even though my sister let me use her laptop, the internet connection was spotty, so I called my husband to help me file an insurance claim online. My husband filled out the form while I gave him my information over the phone. I was so glad that my phone was covered by my insurance. For $150, the company sent a replacement phone using an overnight service, so I had my new phone waiting for me by the time I got home Saturday afternoon.
6. Go to the airport early.
When I called the police department to file a police report, the officer told me to go to the airport at least half an hour before I would normally check in. I definitely needed the time to get through more security measures because I didn’t have any identification. I came to terms that the airport personnel needed to verify my identity, so I went to the airport knowing that I had to be extra patient.
When I first went to the ticket counter, I told the ticket agent what happened. She asked for some basic information, including the case number I got from the police department. She then printed out an airline ticket and wrote, “NO ID – STOLEN – HV POLICE REPORT”. After she gave that to me, I made my way to the security checkpoint.
Once I reached the front, I showed my airline ticket and a security agent came by to get more detailed information. She said, “You know if I can’t verify your information then you can’t go home today, right?” When she put it that way, I felt a little stressed because I wanted to get home. I cut my trip to Miami short so I can celebrate my one-year anniversary with my husband.
The security agent was on the phone and relayed questions that seemed like what you would see on a background check. After a few minutes of answering questions, she said that they were able to verify my identity and that I can move on to the x-ray portion of the security process. I went through the normal security check, and then I had to undergo additional security.
Two female security agents came by with one patting me down while the other one went through all of my bags. As I stood there while the agent checked my bags, the three of us were talking about what happened. Just like everyone else I talked to, they were very empathetic to my situation and were sorry that it all happened.
I was lucky because my sister was by my side throughout all of this. She gave me moral support and encouragement. Since she was leaving with the group on Sunday and I was leaving by myself on Saturday afternoon, she let me take her phone with me back to Chicago. That way, I could let everyone know where I was and so I could use her-ride sharing apps to get to and from the airport.
- I thought a lot about what I could have done differently. I realized that my cross-body bag, although stylish and cute, closed with one magnetic button, making it easy for anyone with the intention to steal to do so without attracting much attention. I learned that I will use a bag that has a zipper closure.
- I am grateful the guy got what he wanted without harming me.
- I received a nice letter from the City of Miami Beach Tourism Department a few weeks later. They offered their heartfelt apologies for any unpleasantness during my trip, and they also thanked me for bringing this to their attention.
I hope that no one will have to experience this frustrating situation while traveling. If something similar does happen, though, I’d also hope that sharing what I went through could help make your situation a little less overwhelming and a little more manageable. Safe travels out there, everyone!