Mercedes Boucher was ordering fries when it happened.
Prior to this, the Keene State College first-year had wrapped her phone securely in her jacket, pushed the bundle to the furthest corner in the seat and left it there while she went up to order food. In the time it took her and her boyfriend to order their food, someone had stolen her phone. Along with that, her $50 phone case was gone too.
“I’m a little bit of a scatterbrain, so I thought maybe I misplaced it,” Boucher admitted. “But I was like, ‘No, I had it, I’m sure.’” She explained how they used her boyfriend’s phone and the app Find my iPhone to locate her missing device.
“It was right around the corner, so I took his phone and I left,” she said, laughing. “And he ended up following me and they were sitting outside on the steps with McDonald’s food, so I went up and I was like, ‘Hey did you guys find a phone?’”
The two girls, who Boucher said looked to be in their early 20s denied the accusation, saying they had their own phones. “I was like, ‘I don’t know, it’s telling me it’s right here and I’ve got a tracking device in it.’” Again, the girls denied it.
At this, Boucher’s boyfriend Jean-Luc Valdivia spoke up, telling the girls if they complied, there would be no trouble. “And so they gave us my phone, but they had it wrapped up in a scarf…and my $50 case was missing,” she said.
The couple asked about the case, to which the girls replied that someone else had it. “Which doesn’t make sense, like somebody took my case and left my phone and then somebody new came and took my phone?” Boucher said. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
The couple resorted to calling the cops. “They were getting kind of angry and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore,” Boucher said. The cops arrived, spoke with Boucher and Valdivia, then talked to the girls.
“I guess they had taken my case and thrown it in the trash can at McDonald’s, which the cop went and found and then he came and brought it back to me,” she said.
Boucher said she didn’t recognize the girls at all and had no problem confronting them. “I was so mad, it’s almost violating is what it is. I didn’t really think too much about what I was doing, I was just like, ‘No, they took my stuff, I’m going to get it back,’” she said.
Boucher said she learned her lesson. “I’m from a small town, so I didn’t think it would happen anywhere, like I could leave it on a table in a McDonald’s right out in the open and it wouldn’t have happened,” she said.
She said, after speaking to the police officer, she realized it might be more common than she originally thought. “It seems like something that happens quite a bit. He didn’t seem surprised at all,” she said.
She said if she had been alone, she would have just called the cops right away. Luckily, her boyfriend was there. “I actually saw the two girls come in while I was ordering food,” he said.
I didn’t see them take it though.”
Valdivia said initially, he was certain Boucher had just misplaced or dropped her phone. “I was like, ‘It’s here, it’s here,” he said.
But it wasn’t. Valdivia said it was a strange situation to deal with. “It’s just one of these things you don’t think you have to do,” he said. “It was a really surreal experience; I’ve never had this sort of thing happen to me before.”
Keene Lieutenant Steven Tenney said this sort of thing is common. “We do deal with this a lot,” he said. He said if students are concerned with their items getting stolen, they should lock their car doors and keep their personal belongings close by. “Really, it’s common sense,” he said. Tenney said no one should ever feel like they’re wasting an officer’s time. “Nowadays, a phone has a lot of personal information on it, and while we may not be able to get it back, we can use that information if it happens again and we can figure out more about who did it,” he said.
McDonald’s declined to comment on the issue.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org