Viewpoint: Dealing with Theft in Madrid

By David Grinsfelder
Special to the Palisades News

It was a Wednesday night and my flatmates, Carlos and Matthew, and I had just finished studying and were going to a club, Teatro Barceló. After a 45-minute wait to get in, we were surrounded by thousands of students from all over the world.

I do not normally frequent clubs, either at home or in Madrid. My preference is discovering a hole-in-the-wall bar and sharing a few beers with friends.

However, as I made my way into the “pit” (the dance floor), there was something about the electrifying brightness and pulsating music of a Spanish discoteca that could appeal to even the most unwilling partygoer. Despite being packed onto the dance floor, I was actually having a good time.

That is, until I reached into my pocket and felt nothing where my phone had been. I immediately borrowed Matthew’s phone and dropped to a squat between the sea of legs in a panicked effort to find it.

David Grinsfelder

I realized then that someone had slipped their hand into my pocket during the constant bumping and jostling that occurs on a nightclub dance floor, and had taken it.

I had been robbed at gunpoint in Berkeley after a football game, and I was not about to lose my second phone in less than six months.

I found David, one of Barceló’s innumerable security guards, and alerted him to the situation. Apparently, I was not the only person with a stolen phone, as six other victims were also standing helplessly in the lobby.

Using Find My iPhone, I was able to see that the phone was on the move, but within the vicinity of the club. That meant our iPhone thief was still there.

With nearly 1,500 people packed into Barceló, I decided that the best strategy would be to wait by the entrance to the club, the only way in or out, to catch the culprit.

I realized the chances of apprehending this thief were less likely than someone actually reading iTunes Terms & Conditions agreement.

As I monitored Find My iPhone, I noticed that my phone had stopped moving. It still appeared to be on the Barceló property, but was stationary. The culprit had probably realized that the club’s security team was looking for them and dumped the phone.

Following the directions on my friend’s Find My iPhone app, I went outside to a deserted street behind the club.

With the rain pelting down and Hans Zimmer’s “The Dark Knight” movie score pulsating in my head, I hit the “Play Sound” button. Somewhere nearby, barely perceptible, I could hear the faint “ping” of an iPhone.

As I inched closer to its location, I was incredulous that the thief had actually ditched it outside the club.

I came upon an industrial-sized teflon garbage bag, full of cinder blocks, bricks and roofing tiles. Digging, I found my iPhone, along with several others.

My credit card had disappeared, but I had my phone: a feat which, according to David the security guard, “never happens.” It was a moment of victory, and for a brief moment I cherished the fact that I wouldn’t have to explain to my parents that I had lost another iPhone.

(David Grinsfelder, a 2015 Palisades High graduate, is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in political science. He is studying abroad in Madrid, Spain this semester.)

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