To say it has been quite the year is an understatement. Its conclusion (as well as the beginning of this tale) started on Wednesday with Peter receiving a job offer from a great company where he’s well-suited for the job, and the team is smart, ambitious and likeable. But we’ve both been insouciant entrepreneurial freelancers for so long, it’s still a bit boggling.
With the offer swimming before his eyes, Peter stopped in that day to the House of Bagels on California Street in Palo Alto to get a late breakfast. Still dazed, he thinks he left his iPad at the cash register when he paid for a bagel. Within 1/2 hour, he realized it was gone, and activated its built-in GPS tracking which has helped him find it whenever else it’s gone missing.
But this time, the iPad didn’t respond. Peter contacted the House of Bagels, which didn’t recall seeing it. Nonetheless, on the chance the thief had simply turned off the iPad, Peter sent a message which would flash when it was turned on asking for the iPad’s return, and continued checking in. On Friday morning, we received notification that the message had been delivered, indicating the iPad had been turned on again, even if just briefly.
Then, on Friday afternoon, the iPad popped back up with its location. Peter instantly got into his car to go to its location, and to his surprise, while he himself was still enroute, watched it move from Mountain View to a location near Kifer and Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale. When he arrived, the GPS had gone off again, but as it turns out, the thief had been found.
The last signal for the iPad came from within a business called Sami ePhone, which, among other services, offers iPhone unlocking. The person on staff then, Masood, told Peter he’d just missed the iPad by 15 minutes. It had been brought in by a chubby 20-something Hispanic dude, who gave a sob story about how he’d had the iPad for years, but had forgotten his code. Masood told him he could unlock it, but if in that process, he discovered the iPad was stolen (as he would have given the messages Peter had sent), he’d have to report it to the police. Thereupon, the thief essentially said “nevermind” and left.
However, Massood had gotten the thief’s phone number, and furthermore, could describe the thief; he also had security video with the thief on it, as well as the thief’s car license number. And, so the chase was on.
Peter called the thief and told him he wanted his iPad back, whereupon the thief hung up and turned off his phone. Peter called back, telling him that he’d been made, and it would only be in his interest to turn over the stolen goods. Then Peter called the Palo Alto police, who told him a policeman would be calling him soon.
That evening, the Palo Alto policeman called, and just as Peter was speaking to him, the thief called back!! I overheard Peter telling the thief that this was his last opportunity to return the iPad before we’d have to press charges. Proving for the umpteenth time that thieves are typically complete freakin’ idiots, the thief then asked Peter for $500 for the iPad. His new story (quite different from the one he’d given Masood) was that he’d bought it from a “big black guy.” I’m sorry, but I have to admit sometimes I understand the jury in the O.J. Simpson case. It’s always a big black guy who’s name no one can remember who commits all the crimes scumbags don’t want to take responsibility for, isn’t it? Peter warned the thief of all the criminal charges he was facing by these actions, which now not only included theft, possession of stolen property, attempt to sell stolen property, but extortion as well. The thief hung up on Peter, who recounted the entire conversation plus the copious information we’d already gathered to the policeman. Then I went to Maureen’s housewarming party, while Peter and the policeman worked on detective-y things.
On a hunch that the thief worked at the House of Bagels, Peter went there this morning, and give the manager the description and phone number of the thief. It turned out to be one of the employees, a new one who’d only been hired 2 weeks earlier, named Juan. The manager insisted Juan go home immediately and return the iPad; Juan tried to yet another new story, equally absurd, about how he’d gotten the iPad. After taking more than an hour to fetch the iPad (now without its leather cover), Juan returned and asked Peter to step outside to talk to a “friend” of his who was holding the iPad for him. Peter retorted he’d better bring the iPad in now, or we’d be siccing the police on him and his (undoubtedly also extortionist) “friend.” Juan relented, came back with his “friend” and the iPad, but still without any glimmer of comprehension on how very screwed he is, and what an idiot he was to steal the iPad and then try to extort money for it.
Anyway, the iPad’s back; the P.A. police will soon have Juan’s full name and address (as he last gave it to his employer, who I suspect is his employer no more.) There’s a lot of good guys keeping Juan from being the thorough scumbag he could be, which include the manager of the bagel shop, Masood at Sami ePhone, the Palo Alto police, and the scientists who built security and tracking into iPads and iPhones. I thank those heroes.
And 2012 will be, well, another exciting year, I expect.