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Amsterdam: Tracking Stolen Luggage, Tesla Taxi, What We Found

03 July 2022
Mind dump

Europe in general has become a giant cluster. Open borders was a massive error. We warned. Inflation going vertical. Airports are understaffed. Passenger jets must sometimes stay in the air due to reduced ground crews. Airlines serving nasty ‘vegetarian’ crap. What’s in it? More mass vaxxine? I have no idea.

The place is getting a third-world feel.

Earlier this week I was in Mexico tracking migration flows. An old Green Beret friend retrieved me and visited author and border expert Todd Bensman and I boarded a flight from Austin to Amsterdam to connect to Budapest.

When I landed in Amsterdam and deplaned, a crippled woman needed help getting to her connecting flight. A staff woman told the crippled lady she likely would miss her connection because it will take two hours to get someone to pick her up. Incredible.

The crippled lady pleaded. I had time and would push her myself but she was in a place too far away and I might not make it, and I am slightly injured. I had slightly hurt my foot in Mexico and it’s adding up. It was very bothersome I could not help her and she might miss her flight due to lack of someone to drive the golf cart.

So I limped through the airport and watched my own flight delayed repeatedly. Actually, I would have had time to push her but did not realize it until too late. That is really sad. It’s hard to believe they are just leaving crippled old people in the airport to miss flights. Very saddening even to write this that I did not try to push her to her gate. Bad choice. Can’t undo it now.

If I had known the Dutch farmers were going to make an uprising I would have stayed in Amsterdam. <y baggage was already checked from Texas to Budapest so I was committed to Budapest.

My flight eventually flew and I landed in Budapest. No dramas with baggage.

Numerous people and journalists will meet me on this journey and one is Masako Ganaha the famous Japanese journalist. Masako wants to interview the President of Hungary and I want to know some other stuff in Hungary. I mentioned to Masako I need to abort Hungary. Pressing action in the Netherlands. She decided to go.

So we booked the same flight. She uses Apple AirTags after I told her to do this for flights. But to hide the air-tags.  Leave one AirTag that is somewhat easy to find but looks hidden, and the other that is very well hidden.

I told her to beware of Gypsies. When I tell some people this they say I am racist. I tell them to go to hell. You are naive. I lived in Europe for six years. Spare your wisdom for fools.

Masako had no idea what Gypsy is. Not that Gypsies are the only carousel crows, and I am sure there are great ones. But those are not the ones I typically meet. This is a high-threat environment for petty theft.

There were only two flights to Amsterdam and we took the same flight. Landing in Amsterdam, there was a long walk to baggage claim, and my injury is swelling and slowing me down. A lady drove by in the golf cart carrying one person. They hold 6 or 8 but she would not take me. So I kept limping down the way, and about a hundred yards later she was stopped, still with one person, and again refused to take me. “Safety reasons” said another airport woman. (Can’t make up this stuff.)

I told Masako to go fast to the luggage. This is not Japan or Dubai. This is Thiefland.

By the time I limped up, she found my bag but her’s was gone. She searched for the bag and it was about 100 meters away. She came back to tell me but by then it had moved and picked up speed. Clearly in a vehicle.

We went straight to Police. They were polite and professional and helpful, but police said Masako should make a report at KLM. I said now is the time. Get it now. And should have done it myself.

So Masako ran to KLM and stood in line for at least an hour behind others with missing bags and flights. She had left her phone with the police and me so we could watch the bag. Could not call Masako because we had her phone, and had no idea she would be gone so long. He asked me if any brown people had been around me and showed me a picture of a woman I did not recognize. I said we know where the tag is…

Watching the thieves drive away in real-time while the police sat around.

Eventually, the policeman went looking for Masako at KLM. Could not find her. Needed to airtag her, too. Finally, she self-recovered back to the police office.

And so by the time all was resolved, at least two hours of non-action bullshit had transpired because we tried to involve the police. We could see the location of the tag but the police said to give it a day or two and see if someone returns it.

I said I am going to get the bag and if I get shot by a criminal gang — that I had left my business card with another policeman. You’ll know that I got shot while being a policeman to get a stolen bag, or maybe someone just got it by accident and there would be no dramas. (Shape of things to come in America and across the world).

So off to the taxi. A Tesla! The driver was a Berber from Morocco. Morocco is great and we have great relations with Morocco. I was there last year tracking migration with Chuck Holton.

I asked about gas prices and he said this is a Tesla, lol. But said his charging prices are going up and now is as expensive as diesel in kilometers per euro. Inflation is mad. But he does love the Tesla.

The world is going to hell, we are on the doorstep of World War III, and I am tracking a damn airtag when there are meetings to attend.

As we got very close to the airtag, I told the driver what we were up to. He volunteered to help. I knew he would. Moroccans are like that. They were the first to recognize the United States as a country. I told him thank you. I always tell Moroccans thank you for being first ever though it was dangerous for Morroco. He said you are welcome.

So we got into the area of the airtag and were very close. The iPhone connected directly with it but the signal was very weak and was showing it might be in one of five cars. Masako hit the play sound button but we never could hear it though the iPhone said “playing.”

I happened to have a very sensitive microphone and a tiny 32-bit recorder, and a headset, all of which fit in a shirt pocket. Because, you know, everyone happens to carry one of those.

I called the police because we were coming to a showdown if we found it in a car trunk. Police were reluctant to come. The taxi driver was talking with the police and I told him to tell the police no problem I will find it and smash the window and take it and all good. No harm no foul. His eyes lit up. Masako froze.

The policewoman said don’t break a window that is a crime. She will send the police. Thank you.

With the headset on, I could not locate the sound. Which was amazing because I was hearing crickets all the way from the moon. I had no idea there are so many birds in Amsterdam until I cranked up my gear. Birds were blasting in my ears. It’s very hard to sneak up on me in the jungle at night. When you hear strange sounds, just put those on. You’ll hear snakes fart.

And so, Masako kept hitting the play sound button and I walked around trying to find it in the trunk of a car or the trash can.

Finally, I took her phone and limped around two apartment buildings but the signal never got stronger. Three police showed up looking serious so I limped up, smiled as big as possible, and said hello. Explained the situation.

Two of the police never heard of airtags. The first police had one in the police van in a bag and showed the other two police. So he knew how to use it.

After ten minutes more effort, we found the airtag in a trash can I already checked twice. Problem being the airtag was in a hole in the ground surrounded by metal. This time when play was hit, we could hear it in the hole.

Police called the garbage police who came and opened the door. We could not see the tag. We could hear it pleading for help. Apparently someone dumped more trash atop it.

Lessons: It was waste of time to contact police. Should have gone in immediate hot pursuit and called police from pursuit.

Searching for stolen luggage in Amsterdam.

Another lesson is to use two tags — I do — one that looks hidden so the professional thieves find it, and one that is very difficult to find.

I was not going to break a window, by the way. I just wanted the police to come in case this was a professional gang.

All this has left my foot swollen. Will be tough tomorrow but this is war and time to walk the line. Masako should be there tomorrow. I have introduced her so her reports in Japan should be interesting.

I’ll likely go on War Room with Steve Bannon and numerous others.

I feel bad for leaving that crippled woman. A Soldier never should do that. I hope she made her flight. This place is messed up. If you are coming to Amsterdam tomorrow I suggest aborting unless very important or you are looking for action. Or inaction.

Your writer,


Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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