Abandoned Electronics

Abandoned Electronics 2

I don’t look like a thief.

How do I know? Because people incessantly abandon their pricey belongings while sitting near me in cafes. They don’t leave for only a few seconds, but for thirty or even sixty minutes. Some of this is cultural, but given that people from all walks of life do it…

The photos above were taken as proof. (I have more.)

Do people do this where you live?

*Pictures taken with iPhone 5 (Pic Jointer app) and quickly edited in Photoshop CC.

P.S. I also must look really friendly as I’m at a cafe now and some kids decided to join my long table and sit right beside me with their iPads and Macbooks. XD There are spots elsewhere.

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  • Reply Katy August 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Recently me and Aisling walked down the road and there were a couple of backpacks just sitting on a bench, I think the owners were the people we had walked past a few metres back who were taking photos of a nearby building. Ok, so they were probably always in sight, but it would be really easy to steal, and in England, opportunist crime is pretty rife. I remember going on a school trip and dumping my bag on the beach to do some Geography homework about the landscape, and a classmate walked past and just grabbed my bag and I had to run after her and take it back. She was a bully, though.

    A few weeks back, on the train, a guy was sat across from me, watching his iPad. He turned around and asked me if I could look after it for him whilst he went to the bathroom.

    When in Japan, however, people leaving phones/wallets/bags/etc. on tables is really common, as a sortof ‘this is my spot, I’m sitting here, move on’ gesture. When my housemate was telling me about hackable bidet toilets in Japan, I had to tell him that Japan didn’t have the kind of culture that would make this such a widespread problem, because it is safe enough to do things like leave expensive phones on tables in McDonalds. 😉

    • Reply Aisling August 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Katy basically posted what I was going to post. It’s funny that this came up so recently. To add a Canadian anecdote, in June I was at an invite only concert thing and I was starting to get tired so I sat at a table next to a few other people my age. These people left their bags and stuff at the table when they went to go dance, get drinks, etc. One of the girls left her phone on the table, and I don’t know what happened but it was pretty much swiped immediately. And she was like “why would they steal my phone and not my wallet?” Which I thought was a bit dumb since obviously it’s easier to reset an electronic device than guess someone’s PIN numbers, but she was drunk so I’ll excuse her lack of judgement. 😛

  • Reply Amanda August 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    How strange! I might leave a book or something replaceable like that to ‘save my spot’, but I would never, never, leave my phone, tablet, computer…it’s really just a different mindset isn’t it?

  • Reply Clem August 8, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Occasionally a stranger might ask someone to watch their stuff for them while they go to the bathroom, but here nobody would ever just leave something for an extended period of time. Personally I’d be uneasy about leaving expensive things even if I asked a stranger to watch over them. The other day I left my wallet on the table of a burger place to throw something in the garbage, and when I realized I berated myself. There was nobody else in the area and I was gone for maybe 20 seconds, but it’s definitely a cultural thing not to leave anything out of sight for any amount of time.

  • Reply Jem August 9, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Hahaha they’d all be gone in seconds in Telford :p

  • Reply Jessica August 9, 2013 at 2:03 am

    LOL This sounds like my hometown…our crime rate is basically nonexistant. But the same thing definitely happens to me…it’s weird. I guess I look trustworthy or something? Or it could be just that I’ve lived in my hometown forever and I look like I belong?

  • Reply Kristine August 9, 2013 at 7:48 am

    People often ask me to look after their belongings when I hang out at local coffee shops or when I’m at the library cafe. But then again, my town is actually filled with friendly people so many are just easy to trust others.

  • Reply Amy August 10, 2013 at 1:31 am

    I’d never leave anything valuable anywhere in a public place, not even for a second. I feel uncomfortable just leaving something on my chair when I’m out with someone else. Though maybe that says something about how awful my area is! I’m sure everything would disappear sooner than I’d put it down…

  • Reply Louise August 11, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I find this really bizarre! To me, the owners of those belongings are asking to have them stolen. Or maybe you look like an exceptionally trustworthy person?

  • Reply April August 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Wow…as much as I would love to believe I could do the same here in my city, I highly doubt I could leave my laptop/iphone/anything lying around for 60 minutes and not have it touched. It may not necessarily always be by a thief – I know that if I see something abandoned in a bathroom or on a coffee table, I will normally take it to the counter of the store or to the police station/whatever and hand it in and let them do the investigative work.

    But just wow…that is so bizarre.

  • Reply Stephanie August 13, 2013 at 2:23 am

    As far as I can tell, in most parts of the US, you would never leave your things lying around. Everyone is just rigorously instructed not to as a child and then it becomes a habit.

    My school actually has an honor code and for most of the time I have been there, it was actually safe to leave your stuff lying around. Nobody would steal it. And then, a couple years ago, theft became a problem on campus. It’s unclear whether the thieves are other students or people from outside campus who realized that it’s easy to steal stuff. So now, we can’t leave our stuff lying around anymore like that.

    It is wonderful to live in a place where you can feel so secure as to leave your valuable possessions lying around. I hope that Korea stays that way and I hope that the US becomes more like that too.

    • Reply Liv August 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      You can hope but with the current state of immigration, I think the world would end first. I’m not trying to be a racist but immigrants are more likely to steal because most of them are not as well off.

  • Reply Liv August 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    My friend from Australia once said this to me too, but followed it with “people here are respectful.” What does that even have to do with anything? Real thieves don’t give a damn and it just looks like South Korea doesn’t have any, at least not in the area you frequent cafes in.

    If I saw someone’s laptop lying around I’d never even go near it. It’s not because I’m respectful either – I just don’t want someone else’s laptop, new or not, Macbook Air or not.

    I think it really depends, but I don’t see people leaving their stuff around here because as Stephanie mentioned, it’s the way we’re taught.

  • Reply Faith August 17, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I see people do this, too, and I never understand it! If I have to go to the bathroom, I still put my laptop in my bag and just leave some blank paper on the table in the hopes that my table doesn’t get grabbed. But, for some people, maybe having their laptop isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe they have the money to replace it, and don’t worry about their data… I don’t know. It’s mind boggling!

  • Reply Liz August 25, 2013 at 8:36 am

    That’s annoying. 😡 Do they think that you’d stop someone else from taking their stuff? People here, in Texas, do that a lot, too. In Starbucks, people leave their laptops and iPads and whatnots just lying around when they leave for the restroom, to get their coffee, etc. Some even do it to go get something from their vehicles. People are much too trusting. Like, you could leave. And someone else could take their stuff, and they’d assume that you did it. Blah. People. -.-

  • Reply Susanne September 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I can’t believe people do that!!!!! In this crazy world I even watch over my stuff when I’m around, like sitting in a cafe, because someone might walk by and just grab it. What are they thinking???

  • Reply Nica October 16, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Ah, if that’s the case then Korea = utopia. 😛 I really want to live in a place where you could live out your life trusting people (even complete strangers) instead of suspecting/doubting them.

    If I may share, a classmate of mine spent a year as an exchange student in Korea. She told us once how she lost her passport while commuting. She was near tears because she was in a foreign country and she managed to lose her passport! Well, after a few hours, someone from the embassy called her and said a local returned/surrendered her passport to them.


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