Losing your wallet, your keys or your phone is pretty much a disaster—but usually not because the price to replace them is so high (though that stings too), but because of the intrinsic value of your identification; your credit cards; your business cards; your old keys the remind you of past homes; and, in the case of your phone, your contacts.
Think about it: How many people's info is in your phone? How many random numbers or emails are programmed in? What percentage of your contacts' information is in your phone and nowhere else? I have a handful: People I met while traveling, friends-of-friends who offered to help me when I needed it, former coworkers, people I went to school with (whose last name I can't recall), and some complete randoms—there are people in my list that I don't even remember anymore. Replacing them all would be pretty much impossible.
If your contacts list is anything like mine, you understand the pain that Chinese bartender Zou Bin was in last month when he left his phone in the back of a cab after his friend's bachelor party. Someone picked it up and kept it, but Bin has no idea who. When he woke up the next day, he started texting his phone, including some threatening messages, that Bin says he expected would be ignored.
“You can be sure that I will find you,” Bin texted. “Just have a look through my contacts and you will see who I am. If you are clever, you will send the mobile back to the following address." He followed up with, "Look through the contact numbers in my mobile and you will know what trade I am in."
Bin's bluff worked. To his surprise, a couple of days later his SIM card with his contacts, plus 11 pages of handwritten contact details (names, numbers and emails) were couriered to his house. Bin advises us all to back up our contacts after his unlikely story spread outside China. Lots of people praised the thief, calling him or her the 'conscience of the robbery industry,' but it seems that perhaps the robber was truly scared of recrimination—or just felt sorry for Bin.
Related on MNN:
Is free shopping really free?
Google Maps catches thief in the act