My BlackBerry was stolen last week. Tragedy of all tragedies, to have your smartphone taken from you. There’s a feeling of vulnerability and betrayal when you walk into your room to grab it and check for missed messages, only to find an empty charger sadly hanging on the wall all alone. Thankfully BlackBerry Protect is there to make it all better. This is the story of #BBerrylessChris and how Protect is helping me get my phone back.

A Bad Ending to a Great Vacation

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I went out of town last week for a small vacation down to Columbus, TX with a group of teenagers from my church. It was an amazing get away that I really needed.

We all stayed in a large dormitory that slept probably over 100 people, but only had maybe 60 in there. I had a small room in the dorm with four beds, two plugs, and one guy who needed at least three outlets. Even though it was supposed to be a bit of a technological getaway, that didn’t stop me from having my laptop, video camera, and BlackBerry Z30 smartphone. I would swap charging each device while still sharing the outlets with the other three guys in the room. We made it work, and neither of us ever went on low battery.

Well except for me, because I’ve been allowing my phone to die completely before charging it again. Or at the very least, letting it get down to around 3% or so before plugging it up. I wasn’t doing it for any particular reason other than I liked seeing how long my BlackBerry lasts on one charge.

Typically I would need to charge it at least once 2/3 thru the day, but since cell signal was weak in Columbus, and I had my phone searching for 2G the whole time, it was lasting for a pretty long time. The last night of the trip, I went to bed with my phone at about 35%. I knew it would last through the night, and I don’t  like keeping my phone plugged up for hours after it’s full, so I elected not to charge it.

When I woke the next morning, I showered, got dressed, and went outside for some alone time on a bench. I did some reading, connected to the weak WiFi, and browsed through my various social media accounts. After some heavy usage for about 40 minutes, my phone got down to 5%. I thought it would be a good idea to charge it to its capacity so I would have a full battery for the four hour drive home, so I went back into my room, plugged it up, and hid it under my pillow and blanket.

I should point out real quick that the individual rooms in the dorms did not have doors, and I had heard that other phones had been stolen in the past. This is why I felt the need to hide my phone.

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I went to the cafeteria for breakfast, followed by a short morning session that lasted about an hour and a half, and returned to my room to grab my phone and get ready to leave.

That’s when I walked into my room and noticed an empty charger hanging from the wall.

The Freedom To Not Panic

Rewind to about two weeks ago on my Twitter feed and you’ll notice that I tweeted BlackBerry and asked how I could get a replacement Z30 because my headphone jack wasn’t working. They contacted me and we got it all set up. A replacement was on its way.

After the initial shock of my phone not being there, as well as the anger, betrayal, and violation of having your property stolen, I found that I was surprisingly at peace with the whole situation. Mainly because I knew I had a new phone waiting for me at home already, but also because I knew with Protect, I could easily figure out where my phone was and get it back with little to no hassle.

Fast forward to the end of the day. I reported my lost phone to the facility personnel, waited a few hours for our rental bus to arrive (it was late, but that’s another story), and made the long journey home with no phone to entertain me. It was torture. I got home, unloaded my luggage, cuddled with my dog, and then grabbed my laptop and went to Starbucks for some WiFi.

Screenshot 2014-07-16 11.26.36

First things first. Check my email, check Facebook, respond to my brother, a couple friends, and some family concerning my lost phone. (I emailed them earlier in the day to let them know so they wouldn’t be worried when I wasn’t answering.) And then the moment of truth… It was time to log on to BlackBerry Protect and figure out where my phone ended up.

Road Trip?

Ursuline Street

Galveston, TX… Hmmm… Ok. That’s interesting. My phone is in Galveston. I logged on to Protect and found out that my phone had been turned in the house pictured above five hours prior. In Galveston.

That anger began to boil up in me again. The feeling of betrayal that someone would steal my phone and then go all the way to Galveston with it. Also a bit of jealousy because I’d really like to go to the beach myself. I was able to compose myself and figure out what it was I needed to do.

I made a plan in my head to get my new phone activated in the morning after picking it up from the office at my apartment complex where it was delivered, and then contacting the police department in Columbus and Galveston and letting them know that my phone, and most likely the other three phones that were stolen at the same time (did I forget to mention that?) were located at this specific house, or within 13 meters of it. I knew time was of the essence.

BlackBerry Protect also allows you to display a message on your phone for someone to see when they turn it on. Of course, I typed out a message that let the thief know I knew exactly where they were and asked them to email me. Sadly, as of when I’m writing this, I haven’t got an email from them.

The Red Tape

To wrap up my nice little story, I’ve spoken to the police, and I’m waiting for Columbus and Galveston to coordinate with each other and figure out what to do with the four stolen devices. I’ve also talked to the facility where we stayed and let them know what happened. Their plan is to contact the group who came from Galveston and see if they can locate the phones. Right now it’s a waiting game.

I have my new phone up and activated. It’s working great, of course. I got over 23 hours of battery life the other day, which is phenomenal. Mostly all of my contacts have been restored, and I’ve downloaded nearly all the apps I had before. What I miss is my memory card that I’ve had since 2010. Yes, most of the images and videos are saved on Box, Dropox, or my computer, but I miss having it in my phone and at my fingertips. I know it’s in my head, but my phone feels lighter without it.

What has amazed me throughout this whole ordeal is how calm I’ve been. People who know me outside the Internet know how dependent I am on my phone, and how I’m always on it. A couple people asked me, “Didn’t it feel liberating, not having your phone? Did you feel free?” I told them yes and no, but mostly no. I felt like I was back in time before the early 2000s, when you could only communicate with people when you’re near WiFi, or you have a computer, or you actually call them on a land line. That wasn’t liberating to me. It was restricting. I enjoyed being able to contact anyone in the world at a moment’s notice. Not having my phone made me feel like I was in the stone ages. And yet I didn’t panic. I was calm for most of the ordeal because I knew I was covered. I had a replacement phone because of amazing customer service from BlackBerry, and I knew where my lost phone was due to Protect.

This saga isn’t over yet because I still don’t have my old phone back, or any sort of resolution or closure. I will, however, be sure to keep you guys updated on Twitter with #BBerrylessChris, so keep an eye out for that. Hopefully my story has helped show you a few of the strengths BlackBerry has, and maybe even entertained you a bit. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you’ve ever experienced anything like this, or if you have any advice you’d like to share.