Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good news resulting from some excellent police work

Regular readers of this blog will recall that we were the recent victims of a vehicle burglary in the driveway of our home, resulting in the theft of a laptop computer.

There have been some interesting developments in the case since that time.

About a week after the incident, we received an email from Toshiba Customer Support, thanking us for recently calling them for service and asking us to take an online survey in order to rate their effectiveness.

Wait a minute - we never called them. Why would we?

We immediately called Toshiba, and learned that someone indeed had called their company seeking to obtain a recovery disk for our computer, and that the email we received had been auto-generated because we were the registered owner of that computer's serial number. We also ascertained that the caller had left contact information consisting of a name and phone number.

After explaining the situation to the person on the phone, they stated that they would place our computer on an internal stolen list and that they would also release the caller's contact info to the Scottsdale Police Department if contacted by them. We passed that little nugget on to SPD (adding it to the original police report we filed) and settled back to wait.

Well, there has been at least some partial success. SPD Detective Reid Watson called us the other day to report that our laptop has been recovered from someone who purchased it for a "bargain" price on craigslist. Watson is currently tracking who placed the online ad, and actually seems to already have a suspect, as he informed us that he is in the process of ordering the comparison of someone's fingerprints to ones that were found on our vehicle after the break-in.

The laptop has been impounded as evidence, but should be returned to us shortly. Detective Watson stated that the craigslist buyer technically can make a claim to the property as well, but that they are ultimately simply going to be out of luck.

We wish to sincerely thank Detective Watson for his professional, prompt, thorough and diligent police work, and we will be writing a letter to the Scottsdale police chief to that effect once resolution of the case has been reached. He is indeed "serving and protecting" Scottsdale residents in exactly the manner that police departments around the country should be doing. We are quick around here to point out when cops are guilty of wrongdoing; it's only fair to note when they are doing their jobs correctly and successfully as well.

Lessons to take away from our ordeal:

1. Park your car in an enclosed garage if at all possible. Ours was locked but in the driveway, easy pickings for a casual "smash and grab". The computer was not visible from the outside, by the way, and other valuable items inside the car were left untouched, signifying that this was a crime of opportunity, not a specific targeting of something carelessly left in plain sight.

2. Register your electronic equipment as soon as you purchase it, either online or by mail. This established a clear record of ownership on our part, and the fortuitous email from the manufacturer also had the benefit of providing us with the computer's serial number, which we could then provide to the police.

3. Be wary of purchasing anything on craigslist, particularly items that are missing boxes, owner's manuals, recovery disks and the like, or which are being offered for a "bargain" price. Don't be the chump who takes a chance in order to score a great deal, only to have the item confiscated by the cops because it's stolen property. The person who bought our laptop from the thief, for example, is apparently going to be out $250.


Chris K. said...

I'm glad you are getting your computer back. I feel bad for the purchaser.

Bike Bubba said...

Cool! I had a somewhat similar situation about a decade back--people stole my identity/credit, but police wouldn't follow up on a lead complete with address because I wasn't the one who lost money.

They did right--apparently that's the law in Kahleefornia--but it infuriated me that the tens of hours of time I was spending to undo the damage to my credit didn't qualify as a reason to send a black & white to that address and see if they had some of the stolen items there.

Andrew said...

That's great news.

When I saw a bike on CraigsList at wat looked like a ridiculously low price, I called in the serial to the local police. They cheerfully checked it, and the identity of the seller, and determined that the deal was probably on the up-and-up.

Better safe than sorry!