Blogs » Working Abroad » Negotiated Thievery

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I'm the first to admit that, try as I might, I don't always "get" the cultural aspects of where I live. As a case in point, I'll tell you about a friend of mine who was recently robbed. My friend parked his vehicle in front of the Crowne Plaza and went inside to meet friends, and in an admittedly "stupid" move, he left his laptop bag in the vehicle. Inside the bag were his laptop, mobile phone, and an iPhone loaned to him by a close friend (yours truly).

When he came back out an hour or so later, he found the vehicle had been broken into, and the laptop bag was gone. We were BOTH less than thrilled about this. The laptop was less than 6 months old, and he really LOVED that machine.

Now for the culturally weird part. The next day, I called his stolen phone and although no one answered, I am surprised when the guy with the phone calls me back. I tell him that I think he has my friend's phone, which has been stolen. He tells me that's probably true since he just bought the phone, at a really good deal, from the boys "on the street". He's sorry about my friend's loss, but is happy to have a new phone at such a good deal.

I talk to my friend later in the day and discover that he has been in touch with the thief. It seems the man who stole the bag contacted him and has been trying to negotiate a deal for the return of some of the items. In other words, the computer is being held hostage and the ransom amount is being negotiated!

Although the mobile phone is a lost cause, my friend is trying to convince the thief that the iPhone won't be a hot item on the street. (Although it can't be used as a phone here, I know that it's useful as a media device even without the phone features and have a feeling it won't be coming back.)

I find the whole incident rather remarkable and would never expect to be contacted by a thief in order to negotiate a deal. But most of all, I find my friend's attitude a bit remarkable. He actually feels quite fortunate ("lucky" was the word he used) that his items were stolen from someone who seems willing to negotiate. Furthermore, he does not seem to find the situation at all "strange", but rather a common facet of life here in Papua New Guinea.