The Story About My Stolen Passport

The Story About My Stolen Passport
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We’ve all heard the travel horror stories before: getting scammed in Thailand, missing connecting flights and being stranded in a foreign country, crashing a rental car, etc. We hear these stories and we might even know a friend-of-a-friend’s-brother’s-college-roommate who had something like this happen to them, but never in a million years would we think that something similar would happen to us. “I’m an extremely cautious person” and other ridiculous mantras run through our heads while we (internally) judge the traveler for being too trusting/slow/insert-adjective-here. Don’t deny it, you do it too. Until, that is, it finally happens to you. The nightmare. The trip-ruiner. The final straw before you break. This is the story of my stolen passport.

The Story About My Stolen Passport
So happy in Seattle…long before my passport was stolen


Almost 2 weeks prior to leaving for my study abroad program, my purse was stolen from under my desk at work.


No, it wasn’t locked up and I know that’s on me. I’ve since learned from my mistake. The purse was deep in the corner under my desk, and you couldn’t see it unless you actually came behind my desk and crouched down. My coworkers and I were at a birthday lunch for a few others and myself for just over an hour, but that was all it took for my life to be flipped upside-down.


To make matters worse, that was the day that I decided to bring all of my important documents to scan so I had digital copies while in Europe. I had my birth certificate, passport, social security card, car registration, tons of birthday gift cards, credit cards, a little bit of cash, my keys, iPad mini, my favorite sunglasses and headphones. Ugh. AND it was my Tinkerbell purse! I seriously hope the person who swiped it really needed it.


After we returned from the birthday lunch, I reached for my iPad, intending to stream the afternoon World Cup game. When my hand never connected with the straps of my purse, I thought (hoped?) it was a joke at first, since a few coworkers and I have a reputation for pranking each other.


When the ugly reality started to settle in, I wouldn’t allow myself to panic. I called security and then campus police. They came and filled out a police report, but my immediate concern was that the thief had my car keys and registration…perfect for stealing my car (although looking back, it might have been easier to catch them if they HAD taken my car). The cop went and sat by my car until I could get over to it with security to pop it open…I fortunately had a spare made recently and it was still in the glove box. Divine intervention?


That night, I got home and made a list of everything I could remember being in my bag, right down to the new pack of gum and purple pens I like to use from my gym. I quickly canceled my 2 big credit cards that were swiped, paying little attention to my small debit card (my least-used with little money). New cards were on the way and thankfully no unwanted activity was on either card. The thief spent the $70 I apparently had on my debit card at a gas station down the street, and then tried to spend $100 at Whole Foods. At least it’s a healthy thief…? By that time, I had reported the fraud and filed a claim. I worked with the campus police, hoping that they would be able to follow up on the video surveillance from Whole Foods, but never held my breath.


After I got this situation figured out, I drove the city civic building to talk to the passport people. There was so much information on the Internet about getting a rush passport, that I was getting SO CONFUSED! The last thing I read said that I would have to go to Colorado to get my passport. That wasn’t going to happen in this life.


When I arrived at the appropriate passport office in our city, the lady at the desk told me there was nothing she could do but refer me to the website that said Colorado.


Now, up to this point, I HAD NOT CRIED. I didn’t allow myself to, but at this point I started to tear up. I thanked the lady and was about to leave…


…but as I reached the door, called to me to wait. She gave me the phone number to a “super-secret” passport place that would be able to work with me quickly to get the passport.


I called them and figured out what I needed to get together. I had everything, but still needed a certified copy of my birth certificate. Stupid California.


I went online again and found the LA County Clerk office that held the vital records. I called them and was on hold for over 30 minutes. I got step-by-step instructions on how to get a same-day birth certificate. Fortunately, I was able to get the certificate and have it shipped overnight it to me. Whew!


After I confirmed the shipping information for my certified birth certificate, I called my sister and cried to her and asked if I could see the little girlies. I just needed some loving from my adorable nieces, which I knew would brighten my day and put everything into perspective. Fortunately, my sister and nieces were fairly close and they came to pick me up and take me to lunch. The best part? The oldest asked me in her sweet little 5-year-old voice, “Aunt Shelly, did someone take your purse?” I said yes, and she replied with, “That’s not very nice.” I just giggled because she’s just too much!


The Story About My Stolen Passport
Sometimes all you need is some unconditional love to help put things in perspective…and cupcakes. Some people have dogs. I have niblings.


The next few days were crazy. I went to the passport place on Friday to submit for my insanely rushed passport and was told I’d receive it after 3 business days, which was the following Thursday morning.


I was told I’d get a call.


Well, that didn’t happen. And I was a wreck. To say the least. I wasn’t telling a lot of people about it: my coworkers knew because it all went down at work, I told my sister, and my parents knew.


Soon, however, people were randomly coming up to me, telling me how horrible of a situation I was in, and asking me what I’m going to do, and the like.


I had to constantly remind myself that most of them were coming from a good place in their hearts.


But some of them are the type of people who just like to “be in the know.”


Anyway, the day I was at the passport place, my coworkers gave me my going-away gift (read: money…enough to cover the rushed passport of roughly $500), even though I was coming in to work the following week. They were so generous and helpful, I just burst into tears. I don’t do that normally, so I’m sure it threw some of them off (and made some of them cry too). I was also speechless, which never happens.


It was such an amazing feeling to know that I am loved and supported at work. And to top it off, a few friends from my ward gave me a little something as well. It was all so overwhelming. I think that any time a horrible thing happens, like REALLY horrible, all of the small acts of kindness that occur immediately after are magnified so much.


Fast forward to the last Friday, the day before I was driving to California for my flight to Europe…and the day after I was told to expect my passport.


I was going crazy, to put it lightly. I couldn’t focus. Nothing had been going right lately with Europe and I just had that sickening feeling in my stomach. I later found out that there was a problem with the courier, so my passport was still in LA as of Friday afternoon.


My flight was Sunday morning.


I spent so much time/money/energy into this study abroad and couldn’t just throw it away because someone didn’t do their job. I got the number for a contact down in LA and talked her through the situation.


What ended up happening was this: “Rachel” (yeah, didn’t know her last name or company name) was going to take the passport to her house over the weekend and text me her address in Beverly Hills. This way, I could go pick it up whenever my mom and I arrived in the area.


While I hated adding an extra 3 hours to our trip to SoCal, mom was game and we went and FINALLY got my passport. Unfortunately, I had to renew it after only 1 year.


The good news? I wrote this in Prague.


Has anything like this happened to you before? What happened and how did you handle it?


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13 thoughts on “The Story About My Stolen Passport

  1. What a stress! They can take whatever they want but dont touch the passport!🙏 It is soo complicated to renew a passport needing this and that back and fourth because there always someone who doesnt do well their job at the office. You really had a hard time, I fell you! But you are now in beautiful Prague!! You made it!
    We are not even going to talk about my own stories…there are too many! But I wonder though how your bag got stolen at your work? Is it open for anyone to walk in?

    1. Thanks. I worked in a hallway that wasn’t too busy, so someone must have come behind my desk and was searching. I’ll never know who.

  2. I was so stressed reading about your experience. I wouldn’t know what I would have done if it were me in your position. That is horrible! I can deal with losing cash but I can’t deal with losing important documents. That is just horrible!

  3. Oh, I am so glad that all ended up well and you finally reached Europe. And I am sorry for what happened to you. Good for you that you managed to get through this and still manage to complete your plan. I hope that your future journeys will be uneventful! 🙂

  4. Wow I felt your emotional Rollo coaster there! It must have been hectic but from your experience it will teach all of us a lesson. Great News you made it though… it must have been a huge relief. Safe travels x

  5. Oh No! So scary. People stealing passports horrifies me. I always keep the passport near my chest when I am traveling, preferably inside a pocket with a zip. I am glad to know that you finally managed to get passport. What a relief. I am sorry for what you had to go through.

  6. Ohhhh man! The stress – ahhhh! I don’t know how you managed to remain SO CALM for SO LONG during this whole debacle. And to think so much was stolen from your bag. How awful! What crooks! I am so glad that you managed to get it sorted, and even wrote this post in Prague! What a great story to share, I was so intrigued every step of the way and could feel the anguish with you. What a learning lesson for sure!

    1. Thanks Soraya. I’m not sure how I was able to stay as calm as I did, other than knowing that I had to push through and focus on getting to Europe!

  7. Oh my–I got stressed just reading this!! I can’t even imagine where your head must have been trying to get this situation resolved. And the fact that it got stolen at work! Ugh. Talk about damaged trust. But so happy for the happy ending!! Much better to tell this story in Prague than at home.

    1. Thanks Kate – looking back there are blank spots where I think I just blocked time out! I’m much more vigilant now, for sure!

  8. Wow how unlucky. I usually attach my passport to my pocket like a ball and chain so I can’t lose it, but this goes to show you can never be too careful. Thanks for the tip on photocopying all important documents to carry digital copies with you.

  9. Oh… passport stolen sounds scary for me and I can totally imagine your situation. Even reading you post rose goosebumps on my body. To arrange all things from birth certificate to present documents is so difficult, but managed it so well. Your sister and little niece gave you a beautiful support and your little nieces are so adorable. Good you got a passport though you had to renew it after one year.

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