I hit my local WeHo Pavilions last night for provisions, and in less than five minutes I had donated my iPhone 4S (which I’d just bought a new battery for at the cost of $60-something bills) to some aisle-wandering sociopath. I do stuff like this. I’ll place an item of value on a shelf or a tabletop while distracted by some fleeting, absent-minded-professor thought, and then I’ll walk away and it gets stolen or it doesn’t. Most of the time the item will get turned in and everything’s cool, but not last night.

I ran anxiously and somewhat angrily from aisle to aisle in search of the damn thing, of course…pant, pant. Within three or four minutes I had asked the Pavilions manager to call my number in hopes that I might hear the distinctive ring (20th Century Fox fanfare) but no dice.

I went out to my car to see if I’d left it on the seat, and on my way back in I noticed a swarthy. greasy-looking homeless type on his way out without groceries. Who goes into a Pavilions and leaves from the entrance door without bags of food? No-accounts looking to gnosh on whatever they can find in the deli department, right? An instinct told me to stop this guy or ask him to empty his pockets (or even tackle him and search his pockets) but that would have made me look bad with the cops being called so I let it go, but I’m guessing there’s at least a 50% or 60% chance that he was the guy.

The phone was probably in reach and reclaimable, in short, but my inner Lee Marvin wimped out. In a sense this is the story of my life.

I did the tracking thing with that iPad3 “find your lost iPhone” software, but the phone has to be using wifi to be located and so far it hasn’t shown up. At least the thief (possibly that icky-looking greaseball) is smart enough to know you have to turn off a stolen phone so it can’t be tracked. I could go on Craig’s List today and respond to every new ad for a used iPhone 4S with a Westside phone number, I suppose, but the odds are not in my favor.

Now I’ll have to buy a new one so I guess I’ll get the effing iPhone 5, which I hate the idea of because I’ll have to buy three charging connectors besides. I have to have three so I don’t have to switch off between my three computers. I feel angry like Elvis Costello in the late ’70s.