August 10, 2012

Hawaii 5-0, Part III

Note: I don't recommend reading this post unless you've previously read Part I annnnd Part II. There are lots of crazies and moving parts involved here.

And now, for the grand (theft) finale!

I wish I could remember more details of the conversations that followed, because in immediate retrospect that night, they were hilarious. I cried telling this part of the story the next day.

We THOUGHT the proof was in the scratchin'.
Enter the young lady we will call "Birthday Girl."

Birthday Girl said she was calling me because she'd been receiving strange texts from two non-Hawaii numbers (mine and bro-in-law's) about this stolen phone. She was confused. I explained how our phone had been stolen just hours before, and it was an odd coincidence that she had just posted the same phone with a verrrrry similar scratch. (Jeremy swore it was the scratch he had on his phone, which is why we were so convinced.) I explained what had happened with the previous posters, and how now they weren't answering. If she hadn't stolen it, I was sorry (yes, it's awkward to apologize to someone who you think may have stolen your property), but I hoped she understood what a crazy coincidence this would have to be.

"I don't know what you're talking about?! My cousin gave me this phone for my birthday last year. I just use it for music."

"Well if that's true, I'm sorry (and this is really awkward). I just know by the photo that it's our phone."

"I seriously don't even know what you're talking about. This is the first time I've ever posted anything on Craigslist!"

"Well, just so you know (and clearly you do by the fact that it's after midnight and you're on the phone texting and talking to complete strangers accusing you of a felony), it's very common for phones to be stolen and resold on Craigslist." (I figured if I was ruining her late night with my polite hypothetical accusation, the least I could do was offer a brief lesson on the dark sides of Craigslist.)

Then I had an idea. If she could prove that the phone had a different serial number than Jeremy's, we'd know she was telling the truth, and we could all move on from this weird exchange. She didn't know how to find it, so I walked her through a quick tutorial. She would call me back with a photo.

But wait. While she was taking a photo of the serial number, we realized: she could be taking a photo of ANY phone's serial number! She eventually texted me a photo, and the serial number wasn't a match. We didn't expect it to be. We were back where we started. This had now become a bizarre team effort among the three of us. How could she prove her innocence?

As it turns out, she didn't have to.


Police Visit #3:
While I was on the phone with Birthday Girl around 1:20 am (!), Officer Cool showed up at our door. With Jeremy's phone in his hand. He said once "the boys" returned, Senior had some words for them, and they gave it up. Apparently they didn't even have time to wipe Paul Bunyan Jr.'s Apple ID off the phone before its surrender. Yeah. His email address. Complete with first and last name, as if we didn't already know. (No, we didn't send him an email. Tempting though!)

How's that for proof!?
As you can see by the photo above, they did take out the SIM card and wipe it clean for posting on Craigslist, so all of those photos and videos were lost. At least when we plugged it in to iTunes, we discovered the ridiculously embarrassing nickname Paul Jr. had apparently given both himself and the kidnapped iPhone: Thundergod. Uh-huh. There's more to that story.

...Hey...speaking of ridiculously embarrassing... remember that time I was on the phone accusing an innocent bystander of stealing our phone when it showed up at our door unscathed and with police escort?

Yeah.

I quickly apologized to Birthday Girl. Seriously. What a terrible night for a first Craigslist post! We laughed, marveling at the fact that Davy Crockett was able to get the phone back for us. If only we could've been flies on the wall in his house that night.

So that's the story!

In retrospect, I kind of wish we had pressed charges. I have high expectations for military personnel (and college athletes too). We all do! Overall, they deserve the respect the community gives them, but a few bad apples like these guys can easily spoil the bunch. I'm afraid we may have just helped them refine their process so that they actually get away with it next time. Plus, Jimmy has a wife and son (or so I assume based on his profile picture). I didn't want them to lose their livelihood over his (and/or his brother's/cousin's/friend's) poor decision, although surely they'll be impacted one day, if they haven't been already.

My main reason for not wanting to press charges was for our safety. I didn't know if they knew what Jeremy looked like, or if they saved our photos and contact details, and it wasn't worth the risk. I didn't want to anger a crew of clearly irresponsible individuals with little concern for consequences. Bummer. The only consolation to that end is knowing that they must have gotten into SERIOUS trouble with Davy Crockett. I like to think he handled things well enough all on his own. And Paul Senior probably had some choice words for the son who was supposed to be "protecting [their] name."


**I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a shout-out to my twin bro-in-law, because if he hadn't counted the houses to find the address on Google Maps, none of this madness would have been possible.**

iPhones are stolen all. the. time. Here are the lessons to be learned from our episode:
  1. Never let it out of your sight if you're out in public. Not in your stroller, not on the bleachers, not on your desk at work as you leave to go to the bathroom. There's too big of a resale market for them.
  2. Install Find My iPhone, for if nothing else, it's exciting (/nauseating) to track the thieves and nice to know you can wipe your data. It can even play a loud beep if you lose it in your house.
  3. Back up photos and videos on a regular basis, as those are the only things money can't replace.
  4. Google is very helpful and very creepy. The fact that we pieced all that together so quickly is evidence that we share way more information than we realize, even (especially) through public records.
  5. If you're going to falsely accuse someone of a felony, it's polite to say you're sorry afterward.
Oh yes, and I seem to remember one well-known commandment that has some relevance here. Something along the lines of...THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.

That's a good one too.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

4 comments:

  1. Holy Cow... you guys have all the fun in Hawaii!! LOVED it... and you guys too, of course!

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    1. It was an eventful evening, for sure! Love you too :)

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  2. Gosh, it gets so complicated, doesn't it? Glad you got it back and the Hawaii 5 O mystery is solved and fun to read!!!!! Enjoy your lovely time there!!! Wish I could pop myself over and have some major beach and margarita time!!!
    It is recruitment this week!!!!!!! Don't ya miss it??

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    1. With the anchors and the orchids, I feel very DG over here too!

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