MY PHONE WAS STOLEN!!!!! It was actually STOLEN!! A theft of opportunity, but a theft no less. More incredible is that I got it back with little time for the thief to damage or hack it. Even MORE INCREDIBLE is I only got it back because of the attention to detail, and superbly alert nature of a movie theater door-person. Her name is Kori. Actually, I’m not sure of the spelling of her name, but I will find out. My mind was only able to process getting her name tonight. Her manager will be getting a letter fairly over flowing with praise from me for not only her situational awareness, but also her quick thinking and willingness to step forward and help someone in distress. Believe me, I WAS IN DISTRESS. With her help and the quick response of the Denver Police Department, whose names I also didn’t get, we were able to apprehend the thief and recover my phone. Sadly, the youth is off to jail tonight.
So what happened? How did this happen? What did I do that brought about this chain of events?
The scene of the crime was the Elvis Cinemas in Tamarac Square, Saturday, May 26, 2012, approximately 6:55 pm. I had just bought tickets to see Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, with my daughter and my mom. Remembering my daughter had wanted to show my mom the “movie” we had taken earlier in the day of 35 mph winds and the effect they were having on the pinwheels in her garden, I gave my phone to her.
While my mom watched the 17 second flick, I went to get popcorn and Raisinets. We brought out own water. As I made my purchase, I watched my mom return my phone to my 4-year-old daughter. After finally having my purchase rung up, I added a little salt to my buttered popcorn, collected extra napkins and found my mom and daughter “playing” on the driving video game that sits next to the ticket taker’s booth. I then handed the tickets to my daughter and asked her to give them to the door person who would then return them. Unbeknown to me at the time, the door person, Kori, would become my savior. She was friendly and even returned the torn ticket to my daughter with the enthusiasm of someone who will at least play to the wonder of young kids if not truly enjoy it.
With my mom and daughter in tow, we walked to the theater. Upon reaching the theater, I realized I still didn’t have my phone back and asked if either of them had it. My mom said she gave it back to my 4-year-old daughter. I asked my daughter where the phone was and she said she dropped it at the video game. Slightly panicked at that point, I sat my mom and my daughter down and ran back to the lobby to find my phone. It was nowhere to be found. I asked the door person, the concessionaires and the box office attendants if anyone had turned in a phone and all said no. I searched again and found nothing. A woman noticing my distress offered the use of her phone to call it. It rang six times before going to voice-mail but we didn’t hear it anywhere in the lobby. I began to fear the worst.
I went back to the theater and asked my 4-year old daughter to come out and show me exactly where she had dropped my phone. She immediately ran to the driving game and said she put it on the seat. It wasn’t there. After a few more minutes of looking, I took her back to the theater to finish watching the movie with my mom, and borrowed my mom’s phone to call it. This time when I called it, it went DIRECTLY TO VOICE-MAIL.
This also change changed the way I began to feel. Suddenly, it was known that whoever had my phone had turned it off, indicating “Intent at deception.” At this point, my phone was officially stolen.
As I stood in the lobby trying to figure out my next course of action, the door person, Kori, stepped up and took charge enough to ask the direct question, “Was your daughter actually playing on the driving game?” When I said, “Yes, she was playing on the game.” That’s when she told me that shortly after she had torn our tickets, another little girl found a phone and turned to ask a teenager if it was his. She said that he said “Yes,” and took the phone after which he handed her a ticket for either “Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax” or “Wrath of the Titans.” She remembered that he had come in with a group that had tickets for one movie, and his was the only one different. She said she could identify him and if her manager came, she would go in to the theater she thought he was in and point him out. I went in search of the manager who was cleaning a theater.
After speaking with him and telling him the story and what Kori had said, he agreed to release her from the door and allow her to help me find him. We went into one theater and the manager raised the lighting so we could see better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. We couldn’t find him. We went into the second theater but it was too dark to see in there.
I began to give up hope and simultaneously get angry. I hate dishonesty. I continued to call my phone, hearing my own happy voice answering as I tried to figure out a plan. I finally decided my only option was to call the police. I had every right to believe the thief was still on the premises and if an officer could show up in time, I might have a chance at getting my phone back. After a ridiculous struggle to find the Non-Emergency phone number for the Denver police department, I finally just called the nearest station and told them what the problem was. They transferred me to dispatch whom I let know the thief was still here and if an officer could show up quickly, there was a chance I could get my property back.
After what seemed like an eternity (probably only 10 minutes) as I sat in the lobby listening to a 19-year-old girl with two children randomly begin telling me her life story as a way to both vent and try to show compassion for my situation, I had given up hope completely. Then I looked up and saw a dark uniform and badge walking up the breezeway. Denver Police had finally arrived! (AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!) I talked with an officer, ashamed I never got his name, told him what I knew for fact and who the door person was who led me to believe the thief was still in house. Another officer arrived, never got his name either and they both went to talk to Kori. With the two of them flanking her, she led them to the theaters. I sat in the lobby, still listening to the 19-year-old and trying to find some way to give her a spark to change her life. Yes, even in my frantic state of mind, I was trying to figure out some way to help this girl take charge of her own life and stop relying on the fantasy of good in the people who hurt her.
While speaking with her, I watched the reflection in the glass down the hallway with little hope the officers would come back with my phone. Suddenly, I saw uniforms but I saw no one with them. My heart sank. Seconds ticked agonizingly by before one officer continued to the lobby with a phone in his hand. “Is this your phone, Miss?”
He asked me to turn it on and confirm it. I turned it on, and was greeted by the smiling face of my daughter. I then unlocked it and proved it was mine. At that point I was asked to decide if I wanted to press charges or not. The officer seemed indifferent to whichever choice I made. When I asked he told me the kid was likely a minor and that was all. I debated on it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to ruin a kid’s life, but still the fact that he had turned the phone off, indicated to me criminal intent. I decided to file an official complaint. Just then, the other officer walked the kid up the hallway into the lobby and I saw him. I felt confident in my decision to file a complaint because I had seen the kid before. He was part of a group of teens who drew the eye based on their unusual appearance and obnoxious manners. He also showed no remorse nor fear as he walked by me and looked me in the eye with a slight grin. Shockingly, the 19-year-old girl, who had been confiding in me, knew the kid. He was part of the group she had just been complaining about and she called him out. I told her sorry, but I had to press charges and she owed it to herself and her two children to find her own path and change the future her kids would have.
After I completed the paperwork with the now FOUR officers outside the theater, the “second” officer walked me back to the theater, passing the kid’s friends who loudly proclaimed he would have returned the phone if he had just been given the chance, causing the officer to let his guard down enough to express to me his irritation at the attitude of both the now “perpetrator of the crime,” and his colleagues. He then collected a statement from Kori and informed me, I should expect, at most, a court summons depending on the juvenile status of the kid.
The manager, Nicolas, of the Elvis Cinemas gave me a few Courtesy Passes since I missed the entire movie trying to recover my phone. It probably helped that I didn’t release my angst on any undeserving employees, although it must have been obvious how frustrated I was. I returned to the theater to collect my mom and daughter just as the ending credits began to roll. My daughter was ecstatic that I had gotten my phone back and was just happy to see me finally.
As we left the theater, the police were still outside and the entire “gang” of teens associated with the now “perpetrator” were assembled on the steps, yelling at the FOUR Denver cops who showed up to help recover my stolen phone. This included the 19-year-old who had confided in me earlier.
This was not my intended way to spend a Saturday evening. However, I got my phone back and I hope lessons were learned all around. For the kid spending the night in jail, I hope he learns that regardless of peer pressure or his intentions, crime, of any degree, is not worth the price of freedom. If he wanted to return it, he would have given it to the nearest theater employee IMMEDIATELY. In this case, that would have been Kori, my hero. For my daughter, it was a harsh lesson in not leaving important possessions around in public places for dishonest people to take advantage of. For me, I know I could have jumped out of line and hurdled the ropes and stanchions to collect the phone from my 4-year-old daughter after my mother returned it to her. Or I should have checked the game to make sure my daughter didn’t leave anything behind when she got out of it, or better yet, I could have told my daughter she couldn’t show the video to my mom until we were in a situation I could have secured my phone immediately.
For Kori, (I’ll get her name spelled correctly) I hope she learns that alertness, good deeds and compassion are still greatly appreciated and will gain her much as she progresses through life. I must say I am truly impressed, and thankful for her pride in her work. She did not have to be aware of her surroundings. She didn’t have to remember what some random kid did with a phone nor what movie he went into. She didn’t even have to step up and offer to help me. Nothing in her employee contract compelled her to help me in this way. I am so grateful, I cannot even express it. She is literally the hero of the day. I will be sending a letter of thanks to her manager. Her actions went above and beyond her duty. And truthfully, I don’t think I could forget the authority in her young voice when she did decide to step forward. She did not show the fear and uncertainty that would have been expected of most young women. This was in essence, a small crime. A faceless perpetrator. Only her willingness to step forward saved the day. I am awed and thankful. I only hope that I can express it to her in a way that she can understand.
Ninety-four minutes. That’s the length of a Dr. Seuss movie where lessons are always learned. I may have completely missed the movie, but I still learned a lesson. Good can still beat evil. Any day.