to the person who took our luggage

lug copy

Hi there, we’re not sure who you are, but we’re pretty sure you know us. You probably know us really well actually, as you recently stole all of our luggage while we were on holiday.

Every. Single. Thing.

Well, that’s not fair, you did leave us with one salt and pepper shaker that was a gift, my 5 year old sons sandals and a 2014 Italian priests calendar. Those priests were pretty good looking, we’re baffled that you would pass them up.

Anyway, we hope you’re well. Really, we do. We hope that our loss has provided you with your essentials for a while, food, shelter, warmth, security. Although I’ve never been in your position before, where I rely on stealing from others to make ends meet, I imagine it is not an easy life.

I imagine you probably live in fear a lot of the time, fear of the culture you find yourself in, fear of the government, police, other people stealing from you. You must also look out at tourists like us with a great degree of resentment. Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is filled to the brim of snap happy, money dropping, grinning ear to ear vacationers. To you, we must appear as the 1%, rolling in wealth and decadence.

Although you might not believe it, this is really not the case with us. We are a small family from Australia. Myself, fiance, and our five year old son. For the past 6 years we have been saving money for our vacation.
Working full time, doing extra jobs on the weekend. Making money where we can from our arts practices. What you took from us that day, were pretty much all of our possessions.

And then we traveled.

We traveled to learn, to take part in arts workshops, to visit galleries, to exhibit paintings.
In Florence, my fiance was taught the techniques of the old masters and created a reproduction of The Decameron (which you now have in your posession). She spent a month in Oaxaca, learning traditional wood carving and sculpting techniques (all of which you now have). I went to Minneapolis to exhibit my paintings and run a comics making workshop (which you now have all the results of).

We wonder if you were disappointed when you opened the bags. You were probably hoping to find a lot of electronics. Designer clothes, bags, shoes. Lots of brand names that would be easy to sell on.

You would have found nothing like that. There were sketchbooks that my son filled while we sat on a balcony in Florence. There was a sculpture of a dog that my fiance spent a month carving in Oaxaca. There was a pomegranate perfume from the oldest pharmacy in the world.

We imagine these are all in the bin now. We don’t know how you could make money out of our memories. It’s hard enough for us to do that.

We have compiled a list of all the things of ours that you now have, but each day that passes reveals more and more. Today we had to trim our sons finger nails and realised that you took his nail clipper. We can’t imagine that it would fetch much on the after market. To us though, it was the clipper that we have used with him since he was first born. It is embedded with memories and emotions. My son cried when he realised you had taken it from him.

We told him the clipper liked San Francisco so much that he decided to stay there. We lied.

We keep telling ourselves lies like that as well.
Lies like “We didn’t really own any of those things anyway.”
“We didn’t deserve to have such nice things.”
“It wasn’t meant to be.”
“They are just objects.”
“We’re not that material, so we don’t mind.”

We keep lying to ourselves to keep from hurting too much.

You might have thought that because we were on holiday, it was a victimless crime. That our insurance would cover it all. Well, because of the way you took the things from us, there’s a chance our insurance won’t cover it. We all know how vigilant insurance companies are in finding ways not to pay out.

It’s not just our travel purchases either, it’s actually my sons entire wardrobe that you took. As well as the vast majority of my clothing as well. Like I mentioned earlier, we don’t have that many possessions, so we took everything that we would need with us.

You also have all our dirty laundry. We’re not sure where that’s going to end up. Will you take it to the laundromat before taking it to a vintage store? Will you even realise they are dirty? Perhaps not.

You took the jacket I was going to wear at my wedding, the one I picked up at a vintage store in Italy, as well as the shoes and belt my fiancé purchased at the same place, the ones she was going to wear. You took the mariachi suits that were made to measure for my son and nephew. They were going to wear them as ring bearers.

There are lots of other things we purchased for our wedding in there. Nothing super expensive, you probably wouldn’t even recognise them, but they’re all in there. They were waiting for their moment. They were filled with such promise.

All of our art supplies are with you too, I don’t know if you paint, or draw, but I hope you find them useful. There are hundreds of dollars worth of watercolours and oils. brushes and pens. More than that though, they are tools that we have discovered and chosen over years and years. Paints hand picked from small producers in Italy, Japan, the USA. Bone ash and bees wax, an alchemists tool set. Things that were perfect, just for us.

I guess that’s what hurts the most. Yes, these are just things. but they were things we had chosen. Not because we were told to choose them, but because we loved them, because they were meaningful for us. Things that we were furnishing our nest with, building our future with, making our lives more beautiful with.

We wonder about how you took so much luggage from us in one go. I hauled it in and out of enough hotels to know how hard that is. Your life must be like that all the time, hard. Even this massive bounty of luggage you took from us must have been hard. The reselling of the items must hard. The burden of carrying so many stolen items must be hard. Knowing that you have robbed a father, a mother, a child, must be hard.

We have spent the last few days in shock, but we have a plan. A plan to make things right and to reclaim the things that were taken from us. We will make our way out of this situation, rather than break our way out. This is our choice, this has been our choice from the beginning. The act of creation, to make things better.

This is our plan for life, to keep making things better. For ourselves, for our families, for our community. We want things to keep getting better.

We will make a painting of each item of our luggage. A small gouache painting of each item, and then write down our memories, our hopes. How it would have fit in to our lives back home.

In doing so, while we won’t have the object itself, we will keep our intention. At the end of the year we will exhibit those paintings, to share with everyone our reclamation.


You might be able to help

If you are the person who took our things, we would love if you could return the pieces that you aren’t able to make money off. You could simply put them back in to one of the suitcases you took, our names are already on there, then drop them with the valet at the Hyatt on 555 North Point Street.

Wear a cap and sunglasses, walk up casually, leave it there. No questions will be asked, we’d just really love to have back some of the things. Especially our personal items, like sketchbooks, diaries and the like.

If you work at a vintage or op shop in the San Francisco bay area, you might recognise some of our things popping up. Obviously, there’s the big items like the luggage itself, but then there’s also all the individual pieces that might come through your store.

If you click through here, you can find a listing of all the things we can remember.

Even YOU can help, yes YOU. The person you doesn’t know anyone living in SF and can’t afford to buy. Just by sharing this article with as many people as you can you will be doing so much.


Raising Funds

In the mean time, I am hoping to raise money to replace some of the items, restock my art supplies, socks, underpants, work clothes. There’s a couple of ways I’m hoping to do this. I usually sell them through Etsy, but because we’ve had to shut down our credit cards, I’ve also had to deactivate the store. I won’t be able to have it back up and running for a few weeks. If you’re interested in buying anything, then I have a paypal account.

Orders can be placed through

Our Paypal account is

camp nintendo
I sell a range of prints of my illustrations over on my etsy shop. Some of them have been quite popular. I have my Animal Crossing,Game of Thrones and Mount Triforce A3 prints available as well as my Legend of Zelda Isometric A4 size prints. I also have my Ninja Gaiden, Just a Girl square print available. The Camp Nintedo prints should be available soon through Fangamer (with a portion of the sales going to me, so it all helps). All the prints are archival quality inks on thick high quality paper.
A3 size prints are $30 and A4 size prints are $20.

I am offering up commissioned illustrations again. I had stopped doing this last year to make time to work on my graphic novel, Home Time. These commissions are in my 8 Bit Dreams style, which I am probably best known from. You can order one of those with any subject matter you choose for $50. Obviously i have done a lot of classic video games, but I have also covered comics, animated series, films, engagement illustrations. Anything you would like.
All illustrations are 14cm x 14cm, ink and watercolour on thick archival paper.

Role Playing Portraits
I’ve also done quite a few portraits for peoples role playing game characters. These are done in the same style as my 8 Bit Dreams and will include any and all features, items and details you’d like. These are also $50 and I’ll ship the original illustration to you.

Cross Section Isometrics
You can also commission an isometric illustration from me for $300, these are original ink and watercolour illustrations on thick paper. Again, you can commission one on any subject matter you choose. These are much larger and intricate works. Above, you can see my Game of Thrones illustration. I love to throw in heaps of extra details, hidden in the forest there are imagery alluding to many of the houses in the series. I’ll totally go in to crazy detail for you if you choose one of these. You saw my Animal Crossing piece? It’ll be like that.

I also run various comics making workshops in Perth, Western Australia. So if you are a university, primary school, library or arts festival who would like to book me in, I’m more than welcoming new workshop bookings. I have run workshops for children, at risk teens in the outer suburbs, at universities for illustration students and high schools. These workshops can be tailored to your needs and have been run at a variety of lengths, from drop ins, day long workshops to three day intensives.

My partner is also an amazing artist and sculptor and is offering up a range of small needle felted dogs that can be purchased. These dogs were initially part of a project called Pup Pup is the Boss of the Stars that helped fund her attendance at various arts workshops.
There are two kinds that are available.
For $50 you can purchase a Corazon pup, the dog from her childhood, needle felted and suspended in a silver star.
For $100 you can commission a needle felted version of your very own dog.


89 thoughts on “to the person who took our luggage

  1. Hi Stephanie,

    What happened to your son sounds awful. It is especially painful to watch our children try to come to terms with being robbed. The strangeness of it all, the randomness, like a bolt of lightening from a clear blue sky.

  2. Hi Melinda,
    Thanks for your support.
    We’ve only ever had great experiences in San Francisco, I’m not sure how their crime rate compares to other cities.
    We were in a high tourism area, which are always hot spots for theft.

  3. Hi Lauren,
    That sounds like an awful experience. We were robbed on the morning we were due to drive out of San Francisco.
    The loss of the pink blankie sounds like a heart breaking thing to have to explain to a child.

  4. That sounds devastating Angie.
    The personal objects, the ones that hold no monetary value, whose value is invisible and codified, those are always the worst to lose.

  5. Hi Mike,
    Oh don’t worry, we have plenty of thieves in Australia.
    Don’t forget that white settlement of Australia was pretty much driven by convicts.

    I’d love to be interviewed on your site, just shoot me an email with some details.

  6. Thanks for your kind words Thiago.
    I have shipped my illustrations to Brazil before actually, so that wouldn’t be a problem.
    The postage and packaging for the little ones usually comes to about $10, but I’m happy to cover it in the commission price.
    All the best.

  7. Hi Rob,
    Yes, I don’t think our story is a unique one by any stretch of the imagination. It seems everyone who travels shares this common experience from one degree to another.
    I would love to pop in to Highgate Primary for some workshops.
    All the best.

  8. I’ve had this happen to me. My historical re-enactment clothing (of no use to anyone not my size, and handmade just for me), a gift for my sister, my re-enactment shoes and jewellery (again…handmade for me), an old laptop…with my university assignment on it, the loss of which made me fail the class. All of which likely ended up in a rubbish bin.

    I get it. I feel so badly for you. There is no such thing as a “victimless” crime.

  9. I read your story passed along through a FB friend, SF Shiba. They are the people who put their Shiba puppies on cam for the whole world to see. Anyway, I have experienced theft of precious objects on a much smaller scale than yours. It is the memories and lessons that we imbue these objects with, not the objects themselves, that we mourn when they are taken from us. Some of us treasure items because of memories, of significance, of the people we were with, or a lesson we learned from their purchase. Many of the items I treasure would be nothing much of value. One item that was taken from me was a handmade, sterling silver ring, that I can never trace back to its maker, I bought it over 30 years ago. It is the violation of someone helping themselves to your things, the shock of knowing that someone did that, it is a kind of rape.

    I am so sorry that your last memory of our country was such a horrible one. :(

  10. I’m sorry for your loss Sue.
    I think we can all understand the theft of items that can make a quick dollar, but it’s the theft of those unique and personal items that cause the most discomfort.

  11. Thanks for your support Juliane.
    I think you are exactly right however, it is the memories that last, the personal connections that are made. I think that realisation, and our decision to work on this project together, has helped highlight that for us.
    I’m sorry you lost your ring, it’s really sad.

    We had may, many fantastic experiences in the USA, and one bad one. We can see which way things are weighted quite easily. Although we’ll never forget the theft, it won’t define our trip.

  12. If you need anything please email me. I have so much stuff! I can get you suitcases even.

  13. I heard about your situation from Lisa Congdon. Are you still in the Bay Area? Send me a message, we would like to help you out!

  14. I do know how you feel. Truly. My apartment in Chicago was broken into – twice – and I lost things of sentimental value. I was also mugged in Chicago, and the thief didn’t get anything of value because he grabbed instead of demanding – I had money in my hand. Idiot.

    More recently, I was storing my Christmas stuff with my ex, and he let his friends take it. There were Baby’s First Christmas (and so on) ornaments from my daughters, ornaments from his family and my family … things I can never truly replace. It still bothers me when I think about it. I can’t imagine that my daughter’s Baby’s First Christmas and so on really means that much to these people, so why would they take them? It’s hard to wrap your head around.

    Sorry this happened to you. Don’t imagine that this represents America, because it doesn’t and shouldn’t.

    And despite the pain this causes, still be thankful. Because yes, it’s just stuff. It’s meaningful stuff, but still stuff. Your family is still okay, and that’s the important thing.

    Also: “We didn’t deserve to have such nice things.” Wrong. Yes, you deserve to have them. It’s just that people have the ability to make choices and some people make bad choices, which doesn’t reflect on you or your family.

  15. So, so sorry to read your story. My fiancé and I feel your pain too well. We were robbed of our suitcases and possessions (and a bag full of dirty laundry as well) last month in Europe. All of our lovely things we took away, the things we also cherished are now gone. Our robbers even threw a pair of shorts for each of us so we had a change of clothing….so kind of them!!! They also left some receipts of items we purchased on the back seat of the car. They don’t realise what they cause when they do this to people.

    We hope you recover in time and the wounds of such an experience can be put behind you.

    Good luck!

  16. I am so very sorry this happened to you. I would be crushed if someone took little objects of my child’s past. I can’t fix what was done, but know that I sent a prayer and love and light. I will share this with everyone I know to try and help.

  17. Hope the person who stole your luggage might come across this post so he/she can feel the pain of the people from whom he/she is stealing.

  18. My Goodness, the theft of Christmas good sounds awful.

    I don’t believe this theft represents all of America, a theft like this could have happened in any city in the world.
    We have with us plenty of healthy and happy memories of San Francisco.

  19. It’s a strange feeling when thieves leave a few objects behind.
    We had a couple of pieces, which makes you really think about the choices they are making, their thought process during the theft.

  20. Perhaps they will, likely they won’t.
    I hope they find themselves in a better situation some time soon, so they don’t have to make the same choices again.

  21. are you all still in san francisco? i live here and would be happy to make up a packet of art supplies. i have too many as is, and would be happy to give some up to people who would use and love them. particularly needle felting and watercolors, i also have an assortment of pastels, graphites, and various inks and washes.

  22. Hi there,

    As a San Franciscan (now living elsewhere) from just off of Fisherman’s Wharf (North Beach), I just want to express how appalled I am at this. I love San Francisco, more than anywhere else I have lived or visited in the world. As much as I may let myself be regularly annoyed by the traffic caused by tourists, and chuckle at those who come to the Bay Area dressed for Southern Californian weather, I want everyone who visits San Francisco to love it as much as I do. It makes me absolutely sick to hear about this happening to your lovely family, in my wonderful city. I just want to let you know, as a San Franciscan, a fellow traveler of the world, a fan of comics and graphic novels, and fellow member of the creative/artistic field, that you now have a legion of support behind you.

    P.S. I love, LOVE the Game of Thrones print!

  23. Hi there,
    We are no longer in San Francisco, as our luggage was taken on our last day there.
    Thank you so much for your kind offer, I think shipping them to us would be prohibitively expensive at this point.

  24. Hi Nick,

    We loved our time in San Francisco, and will not let this one incident define our view of the city or it’s people. This theft could have happened anywhere in the world, and people have been sharing many of their own stories with me that attest to this.

    I have been lucky to feel this support you talk of, people from all over the world have been so incredibly generous and caring that our family is eternally grateful. We have a community, and the ability to reach out when we need help, and we like to think, offer something valuable in return. I feel for the person who stole our luggage as they obviously don’t have this sort of community or support network. When they hit a rough spot, they can’t reach out like we have, they need to steal to make ends meet.

    Thanks for your support.

  25. Man… what a f-ed up situation. Had to shoot you a little love. You kids are winners all the way around. not only do you stay strong and honest and compassionate, but you also “donate” to a more needy human than you. Use of the word “human” is debatable. But you come solid. Phased but not out by any means! It is an honor to have read your story. You made me (more than anything else) smile. Because you understand it is not what happens to you but who you are and what you do to make this world a better place. I want to send you a private message. I have some helpful names of close dear friends that may be of use in your artistic endeavors. Cali makes great cartoon artists… Hit me up on Facebook, posted a link to my band here and you can find me from there. Noa Oz. loving your perspective of life and your will to be and do better. we come together in the golden rule. I ain’t christian, but it is a good idea. Hit me up.

    Tons of love,

  26. I read this whole article and felt so touched. I too pack all my most treasured items whenever I go anywhere (which is usually my sisters in Pinjarra only 1.75 hours away from home).
    These possessions are my creative tools of the trade which take on an ‘old friend’ quality.
    I don’t have much but I’d love to donate some of my own art supplies to you or even buy you some.
    And guess what? I live in Perth too!
    And I’m going to refer you to an organisation that sometimes needs to book people to run holiday workshops for kids, I hope they book you.

  27. Hi Noa,

    Thanks for your kind words.
    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, I’ve been super busy with responding to lots of different emails. A few of the comments on this post slipped through without me responding properly.

    If you’d like to send me a private message, you can do so at


  28. Hi Tamara,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I had a look at your site, your works are gorgeous.
    We really appreciate your offer of art supplies. Through various commissions and materials donations from some of our art friends, we’ve managed to replace a lot of our art supplies, so we won’t be needing any more at the moment.

    I’ll have to come and say hello next Perth Upmarket.

    Thanks for recommending me for arts workshops, that’s a great help.

    All the best,

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