My passport was stolen a little more than five years ago. It happened at an airport in North America. When you hear stories about a stolen passport you automatically think that it happens somewhere else, somewhere less developed, and most certainly not at home. But here I was, I had just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe, and passed through customs. I don't remember the exact moment that my passport was stolen, but in an instant it went from being loosely held in my hand (having just finished speaking with a customs officer and declaring the goods I had purchased), to being gone.
At first I thought that I had passed it over to one of the friends that I had traveled with on the trip. Minutes later I realized that I was the only one missing a passport. I went numb. I chastised myself, angry that I could let this happen, that I didn't take enough care with my most important identity document. And I moved to disbelief, calling the airport's lost and found incessantly over the course of the following days. But my passport was gone. In my home country, and the airport I worked at, my passport was stolen. Here I was, a seasoned traveler and airline worker, and in the jet lag of returning home, and not paying enough attention after customs, my passport was stolen.
I was set to travel to Southeast Asia only weeks later, so I almost immediately filed a report with the police. I next went to the Passport Office to apply for a replacement passport, and to report my previous passport as lost or stolen. After presenting all of the necessary documents to prove my identity, I completed my application and soon received a new passport without incident. I worried that someone might try to use my stolen passport, but I had filed reports and assumed that I would be contacted if there were any further problems. The fact that I was able to travel on the replacement passport for the next four and a half years eased me into believing that there were no problems with the old passport. I would soon find out that I was sadly mistaken.