This all happened YESTERDAY (01 March 2006): My ante-thoughts before actual recovery:
I’m writing my thoughts approximately about four hours before I am finally reconciled with my Lumix. After six days, there is now a good chance that I can get back my stolen camera (I have forgotten about the mobile phone and the sim card) which I have been wanting to recover since. If ever I finally get it today, it is not without fear, anxiety and drama.
Since it was stolen, I have been negotiating for the return even only of my camera and I offered 5T as “ransom” because I know it would be hard to sell it for more than what I’ve offered because it is without its necessary accessories. The people I’m negotiating with may be the thieves themselves, or innocent purchasers (but not when I told them it was stolen!) but they freely volunteered the info that they got the camera and the sim card only (not the phone; it was not sold to them as they claim) for only 3T. However, they are afraid to give it back personally because of what I may do to them. So, they utilized another person to negotiate but the price have gone up to 6T!
With the advice of the Police, I was told to just agree on the price they wanted with the intention that when all are done, I can get back my camera without giving anything at all to the thieves (even if assuming that they really bought it for 3T) and whoever is negotiating for them. Earlier though, I was willing to replace the money that they have paid for it (whatever!) if they have just held on to that agreement.
I have not received any communication from them the other day, so yesterday, with my mind clear on going for the price they wanted, I called their Negotiator and agreed to their price but I want it before Saturday, in her office, and not anywhere else. She told me that she will talk to her principal (well, that is after several alibi’s which I did not believe anyway!) and good enough, at about 8:00 o’clock P.M. last night, I received a text from my old number (which they have) asking them to call because they are together.
And so I called. Here’s what they want: I will meet them in Cubao and we will go somewhere in Roxas District, Quezon City, to get the camera. I said NO! I stood firm on my demand to have the camera at the Negotiator’s office the next day (that is today!) and I will give her the 6T they are asking upon confirming that my camera is intact. I called them by their names just to let them know that I have an idea who they are and stood my ground that if I do not have my camera the next day, it will be harder for them because I will definitely go after them, legally.
We ended our conversation with a drama from their end. According to the possessor, the camera and the sim card was sold to them by an unknown person (well, unknown as far as I am concerned but not them!) and the “husband” bought it with the intention of selling it for a higher price, for the purpose of having their MERALCO line (electric line) installed because it’s hard for their 2-months old baby without electricity.
I do not want to take chances today. I asked the Police to assist me in a manner appropriate under the circumstances when I get my camera but they told me NOT to give anything. That was good with me. On second thought though, the humanitarian side of me played on the sideline, so I asked the help of my sisters and brod-in-law for some advice. They understand what the Police wanted because I did not do anything at all for me to pay them back. I was in my home and they were the one who violated me and if there’s someone “paying” for what happened, it’s definitely not me! However, they told me that to keep my part of the bargain, I may still pay the price that they have originally paid which is 3T but not their asking price of 6T. In that case, I will consider the 3T and whatever other expenses I had by reason of this event, as a loss.
I have few more hours to think about what I will exactly do today. I may give the 3T but not now, and not after I have known their true identities so that if someone gets back at me because of this, everything will be on record.
I am ending this narrative at about 9:00 oclock A.M, 3 hours before the agreed time of recovery. God, make me safe!!!
Read the narrative on actual recovery on the next page.
At about 11:30 in the morning, I picked-up the Policeman who will go with me in Cubao. We dropped by their Main Station to get the “Alarm”- a written extract of my previous police blotter of my stolen belongings. We stayed at the station for sometime because it was lunch and the Investigator was attending to previous cases plus personal matters here and there. I patiently waited. At about 12:45, the negotiator asked me to call her because she has an appointment at 1:30. I told her that I was on my way and just in case I am late, she can just entrust my things to anybody in her office with instructions that I am giving something back. When she knew that I was on my way, but in fact I was still at the Police Station, she immediately changed her mind and told me that she is willing to wait.
And so we’re off to her office in Cubao, the second floor of certain building along Malabilo Street in Cubao, opposite Farmer’s Plaza on the other side of EDSA.
We reached Cubao at about 1:20 but the Policeman who was with me decided to go to a Police Station within the area first, to let them know that he has an operation, so that if anything comes up, like commotion or on worst scenario I will be the one prejudiced, we are protected. It was already 1:30 so I called the negotiator to let her know that I am already within the area. She then changed the meeting place to Jollibee Arayat, still within her area, and I obliged.
Upon reaching the place, I was eager and ready to get back my camera. I immediately alighted the car, went inside the fastfood, and I noticed that there were two girls seated on one table, looking at me (because I told them I was in Barong). I knew it was them. I approached them and even without asking their names, I asked where my camera was. The negotiator (upon telling me their names) asked another girl at the other table (who was also with another girl) for a paper bag. My first reaction was, “Why are you too many? I thought I was going to meet only one?”
I immediately checked if the camera was working like, on and off, the external parts, the battery, the sd card and to my surprise, they even have the cable for computer connection. I thought they never had that.
When I got hold of it, I immediately told them that I was not going to give them any money and I have the Police with me. Immediately the Policeman, with another one from Quezon City (for additional protection) came to seat with us and explained to them what was going on. The negotiator and the first girl I was talking to were of course shocked and surprised with unending dialogues tossed between me and the Police but I told them to just talk to the Police and cooperate. There was a bit of commotion but the people around us were convincing them to just cooperate. Aside from the camera, my sim card was also recovered inserted in the first girl’s mobile which was confiscated by the police there and then. Their main concern was, the husband of the first girl does not have any idea that they are returning my things. What he know is that they are selling it other persons for me not to trace it anymore.
They were invited to the Police Station in Manila where I first blottered the incident. While inside the car, it came out from their own declarations that the names they were telling me were not their true names. Regarding my phone, however, they were hard on saying that it’s not with them.
When we reached the Police Station, they conducted the SOP of knowing their identities and stories. After an hour at the Station, I asked to be excused because there was no admission where my phone was yet, and I was already tired. I requested the Police that I be called back whenever any development arises.
At about 7 p.m., I received a text from the Police requesting me to go back to the Station because my phone was already there. It was delivered by the mother of the negotiator from Quezon City because the sister of the first girl refused to go to the Police and deliver.
When I saw the phone, it was already badly damaged. The battery is gone and the antenna is damaged, among other scratches and dents. The theory of the Police was, when the first girl called her husband that they are at the Police Station and needs the phone to get out, the husband blamed her and the negotiator. He shouted and scolded them for attempting to return. By reason thereof, the husband might have damaged the phone, for whatever reason he had, before he asked somebody to return.
My final declaration was, I will file a case against them for violation of Anti-Fencing Law (any possessor, even in good faith, of stolen goods are still liable) and Attempted Extortion for asking money beyond the amount they allegedly paid. To avoid liability and being included in the case, I asked them to produce the person whom they have purchased the camera and the phone from, who turned out to be the brother-in-law of the first girl I was previously talking to, on or before Monday, otherwise, I will proceed with the case against them. With the threat of legal action and the phone of the first girl confiscated, I have a gut feel that I might just meet and see whoever came inside my place face to face soon. That’s all what I want for now, for me to have peace of mind.
They were probationally released at about 7:30 P.M. and I even gave them fare to go back home!
In the meantime, I am in the process of checking every function of the camera if all are working, and even if I have recovered the phone and sim, I left it with the Police as evidence, just in case. Afterall, I feel like not using my old sim anymore because even the criminals may already know the number.
What I thought was almost beyond recovery was wrong. I remember the Police telling me before that according to their experience, in cases of theft, there was never a return that they know of. I am happy, not only for myself but also for the Policeman who came with me because he proved them wrong. I came to know later that on the date of the operation, no one wanted to accompany him because they honestly believed that there can never be recovery!!!
It’s a long day but very rich and enlightening. Thank God we were safe!!!