My Stolen Bag Story


I had arrived in Japan at the end of November, 2005, with plans to stay for at least 2 months. The first week of December I had gone to Hammamatsu, where Roland has their headquarters and main factories. On the 2nd day, I and a few other Roland engineers went out for dinner at a restaurant called "Skylark," one of the few open late in the evening. After dinner, around 11 PM, when we came back to the car, we discovered the car window smashed, and the bags inside stolen! I had everything in this bag, my passport, keys to my apartment in Paris AND Japan, my digital camera, my data cards for my Roland work, important papers, even my hotel key and more importantly, my iBook! I went into "shock" mode.... I could not believe it! Japan, known as one of the safest places on earth, had just lost that ranking as far as I was concerned. But the thought of losing all of that was terrifying. "Snappy" Katsuda had lost his bag, but inside that were only a few papers and ball point pens. The first thing that came to mind was a MAC ad parody that had circulated on the internet, where the final line said "your life in a little plastic box." Now I was living that.

So we called the police, and within 5 minutes a "mini" police car with two officers in it showed up. The first thing they did was to shout at us for leaving a bag in a car, as if we were the bad people. Then it started to get funny. After looking at the car, and making notes, the first thing they did was to take out a very long tape-measure. I thought "what is that for?" They measured the distance from the entrance of the restuarant to the car. Do NOT ask me why, because I don't know. Then they asked Snappy and I to come to the police box.("koban" in Japanese-a mini police station post) Off we went.

When we got there, one of them sat behind his computer and started asking questions, first to Snappy as it was his car.

"Description of the bag, and how much is it worth?"

Snappy described it, and explained he had bought it for about 5 Euros when he had been in Frankfurt. The policeman was tapping the info into the computer( typing with two fingers) Then he asked about the contents, and Snappy said he had some unimportant documents and some pens. "How much did the pens cost?" Snappy replied, "100 yen each." (less than a dollar) and the policeman typed that info into the computer. That took about 15 minutes. Then it was my turn.

I described the bag, and when he asked me how much it was worth, I said I had bought it in New York for about 200 dollars. Looking perplexed at that response, I converted it to Japanese yen, saying "about 20,000 yen." As he was typing that he was repeating out loud,

"OK a 20,000 dollar bag." I interuppted him and said, (of course in Japanese) "Sorry sir but if I was the owner of a 20,000 dollar bag, do you think I would be eating in that restaraunt? 20,000 yen!" Then I listed off everything else, and tried to declare the value of each item, right down to the house keys.

At that moment, it now being close to mid-night, a woman came in crying. One of the two officers asked her what was wrong. Apparently her 78 year old father had left the house on his bycycle a few hours earlier and did not return. They asked his description, phoned in the report to the main poice station, told her they would look for him and that she could go home. Seems the stolen bags had priority for them!

Then the officer printed out the report and asked Snappy to put a finger print on it, after verifying everything. At that moment, I said, "sir as I have lost my passport, I believe I will need a copy of that in order to get a new one, so can you print one for me please?"

"No, you have to request it."

"I just did."

"You have to request it at the main police station"

I went back to my hotel, explained that the key was in my stolen bag, and they advised me to put the chain lock on the door and they would change my room the following day. Great!

The following morning, one of the officers actually went to Snappy's house at 7:45 AM, because he had found a mistake in the report, corrected it and needed Snappy to put yet another fingerprint on the paper.

Later that day, we went to the police station, filled out a form, and were then told to come back in a week. I could not, as I was going to be back up in the Tokyo area at that time. Snappy eventually went back and got it.

Meanwhile, I felt computer! No e-mail access! I had partial back-ups of most things, but they were back in Paris.A friend of mine immediately loaned me an iBook, and thanks to Mac's system, I could log on, and at least recover my address book, and almost all of my sent and recieved mail. I was at this point, trying to forget the loss and just live with it. I forgot to mention that earlier , in October, my apartment in Paris had been broken into as well. I had come home to find a huge mess, but fortunately the only thing missing was cash.

One of my friends said, "be careful, there might be a third experience like this.." I replied, "no, this was the car, my apartment and now my bag."

The good ending...

Time passes........ now it is the end of April, and I am in Japan again. Snappy calls me and says, "I am at the Police station in Hammamatsu, and they found our bags." Of course the first thing I asked was, " where? and anything left inside?" He replied, "everthing is in there except for the digital camera, and it was found only 500 meters from the Skylark restaurant, and actually just behind the hotel you were in." Of course I had already replaced the passport, paid a lot of money to have new keys made for the apartment in Paris, but now I was hoping that the Roland data cards would be good, as the back-up for those were in the iBook. An hour later he called me back and said, "the iBook still works!. The power supply is dead, but I used mine, and it powered up!" Now talk about miracles! 4.5 months in cold weather, snow and rain, and the iBook was working. He shipped it to me overnight, and I was able to recover all the data. I had since purchased a new iBook of course.

But I think I was lucky, thanks to the bag itself. It was a TUMI bag, and inside it had a separate sleeve for personal computers. Thanks to that the iBook was protected for all that time.

Below you can see some photos of the bag, and what was inside after I recovered it.


The inside sleeve/pocket for the computer.

Above, my passport. Below.What was inside: Everything was damp, CD's were ruined.