My Stolen Life

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One (of a few) things to do differently next time (not a ding, experiences like this is how we learn) is to use an encrypted thumb drive (something like AES 256) that has a surface app that will re-encrypt / wipe the contents after X bad password guesses. I have one on my keychain and it’s great. I just googled & there are a few so I’ll edit this and include the brand. (edit: I’m currently using an older Kingston model, but of their new line these are comparable)

Also, two offline copies of your backups should be kept, one on USB is really convenient and a great way to shuffle backups to location two: an external drive in a bank vault in your home country (safety deposit boxes in the U.S. Work great) in mine I also keep high resolution colour copies of ALL my travel documents & supporting info. It makes recovering your lost/stolen cards easier and if you get into trouble (like with your sleeping pills trouble - another good idea in unstable regions if that’s your preferred method of self defense) is those document copies make it easier for your family to find & recover you afterwards.

Lastly I’d suggest carrying these types of documents in a kidney belt (edit: This market has exploded from a vest like this to a pouch like this - so find whatever suits you best. With the new US passports, something with a Faraday cage would be recommended (aka RFID blocker)) as it sits flush against your body and is only discernible if you wear tight thin cotton or the like - a purse is a Really Bad™ place to store these sorts of valuables when traveling.


I am trying to figure out what I am supposed to take from this article. Was it posted to add a human side to the story of theft/identity theft? Is its purpose to show us how far the sophistication of theft/identity theft has come? Is it in some way to show us the way we’ve been taught to live in fear (by which I mean the author is assuming something more nefarious from a purse theft than just taking her money and ditching the rest - she is now assuming the thieves are sophisticated enough to be able to and want to spy on her in her own home)?

Don’t get me wrong - I feel badly for the author, but I am just not sure what we, as readers, as supposed to take from this tale. Maybe everything I mentioned above. Maybe nothing.


Thanks for sharing this experience.

My boss at a previous company had his laptop stolen at a tradeshow in Paris. Within hours the thieves had taken over all our Ebay and PayPal accounts, and initiated multiple fraud attempts from those accounts. It fascinates me how efficient they are. Ebay and PayPal fraud are specialized skillsets. It’s impressive that they could move stolen goods that quickly between discrete criminal specialties (street-level thief -> Ebay conman).

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from opportunistic theft, but professional criminals are a different animal. It may be more important to establish a personal damage mitigation and recovery plan that you can quickly execute than it is to spend money and effort trying to prevent that damage.

A long time ago I talked with a guy who had worked as a mercenary for the Saudis. He had been involved in border control for them. He said that you can’t possibly secure the entire border, so instead you create perceived weak spots for people to exploit. The idea is that you entice people to cross in areas where you can contain or control the extent of the incursion. Maybe the same could be the case with thefts like the one Jasmina experienced.


Avoid bags/purses. Use shirt or tactical vest pockets.

Or just avoid other people…


That works even better.

Searching the web for “luggage alarm” turns up a number of devices where you attach one device to your luggage/handbag/child and the other to your person. When the device on your person loses the signal from the other device and alarm sounds on one or both devices.

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You should not carry so many important stuff at once. Not with a backup.
I keep a backup debit card with money all the time at home, and I get a copy of my ID to stash somewhere.

Also, your data should be stored somewhere safe, not an USB drive.
Sorry to hear that but you should always look forward on things like this.

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Although it has been broken, I still use Truecrypt for my USB on my keychain as it works so well, sure a state based agency may break it however for my documents a standard thief would have a hard time. I am not an interesting type, just regular joe however recovery from thorough ID theft sounds like such a drag.
I have started to use two factor with gmail after this excellent article:

My Australian bank uses two factor

Are there any good replacements for Truecrypt that allow you to move from OS to PC?

Has anything replaced Truecrypt yet?

Not sure if it’s one-to-one on features, but I’ll just drop this here.


The open-source successor to/fork of TrueCrypt is VeraCrypt.



Thanks. VeraCrypt can also be used to open truecrypt volumes.

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