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shadowfelldown's avatar

What can I do to catch a thief?

Asked by shadowfelldown (386points) September 1st, 2009

So my car was broken into in my driveway. Like the genius I am, I had both my wallet and my ipod inside the car which I had left unlocked. I live in the bowels of suburbia, in a neighborhood with absolutely no crime in a house with a long driveway… so believe it or not this came as a bit of a shock.
Luckily, I had no credit cards in the wallet, no cash, and nothing really of value save for a drivers license and three un-cashed payroll checks (as I say… genius.)
The thief apparently wasn’t interested in my license because he threw it out the window (I found it in a flower bed down the street)
I went into work and had them put a stop payment on the checks too, so that’s all well and good.
My question is: what can I do from now on to help catch the guy and (possibly) get my ipod back?
If the thief tried to cash those checks after my work put a stop on them, would my work be notified of where/when he did it?
If so, could I report that kind of thing to the authorities?
can I give the license to the police and have them “dust for prints” or whatever it is they do… Or is that just my misguided fantasy from watching way too many CSI episodes?

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22 Answers

Buttonstc's avatar

You have my sympathies. I lived in major cities for most of my life so quickly learned to never leave anything of value in a car. Sorry you had to learn the hard way even tho in suburbia. There are creeps everywhere.

I reeeeeaaally doubt they will dust for prints. Just keep in mind that all the CSI and offshoots have cases dealing with murder. Slightly higher stakes.

You coup get some security cameras installed if you wanted to “bait” your car hoping he would strike again.

But the truth is that’s a lot of effort to go through realizing that even if he is caught it’s unlikely there would be enough jail time (if any at all) to be satisfying.

Just move on and learn from it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Consider that you may have to let this one go. The likelihood of finding this person is not high. Police unfortunately don’t spend a lot of time on these crimes. The perp has likely already off loaded any stolen merchandise. Definitely file a report.

shadowfelldown's avatar

@Buttonstc…so I probably should scratch the moat and punji-spike pit traps that I was going to put in…

dpworkin's avatar

I suggest you make a police report anyway, for two reasons: Your loss might be reimburseable under your household insurance, and something about the information you give the police may help them prevent the guy from repeating the crime. You never know.

Les's avatar

Yup, your Ipod is gone. Odds are good that this guy won’t try to rob you again, unless s/he is really dumb. Lock your car from now on and keep everything you want safe and sound. People always laugh at me in Laramie, WY because I always lock my doors, even when I’m just going to get my mail. They think I’m over protective. I say, You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl. If you really want to do something, go file a police report for the stolen ipod. Who knows, the guy may be caught, and you could get your music back.

shadowfelldown's avatar

@pdworkin and @Les
That sound like a pretty good Idea, I completely forgot about the whole police report thing… I guess that this is the kind of situation that would tend to warrant that, huh…

dpworkin's avatar

Couldn’t hurt, right?

Buttonstc's avatar


What they said about the report.

Cancel the moat and punji sticks.

SheWasAll_'s avatar

From my experience in studying crime and working with criminals, statistically you probably know the person who stole your iPod. Someone who knows where you live and what you have. I say keep your eyes and ears open and you might find who it is yourself.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Keep the moat and punji sticks plan. Yeah, your iPod is gone and all you can really do is file a report, but if you get a death trap installed you will be the talk of the town. And you’ll probably have the most interesting house in your entire realm of suburbia. And that’s got to count for something.

Darwin's avatar

I was going to say keep the moat and punji sticks, too, as long as there is no homeowner’s group that will be against it. It’s a better idea than this guy had, although it’s possible they won’t add to the resale value of your home. An electric security fence might, though.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Is a car really “broken into” if the thief doesn’t have to break anything to get in?

SheWasAll_'s avatar

@La_chica_gomela The legal definition for “breaking” usually is something like “entering without authorization.” Even just pushing open a door without an invite can be considered “breaking.”

Buttonstc's avatar


I read that whole article and was horrified. How Draconian.

So they want to have everything look like the 40s. I guess that means no air conditioners poking out of windows and everyone has to stand outside manually watering their lawn since sprinklers aren’t historically accurate? As if…...

El_Cadejo's avatar

yea, that story was kind of fucked… Id love an astroturf lawn :)

shadowfelldown's avatar

@SheWasAll_ actually, it’s funny that you mention it, because my little brother (a pretty shady character in his own right) thinks that he might just know the guy who did it. apparently some neo-nazi skinhead kid that has this MO (breaking into unlocked cars with ipods or wallets left out.) knows where our house is, and was apparently pulling jobs around our area, along with a few other kids.
Also, he doesn’t like my brother (mostly because he is a nazi skinhead and my brother is a quasi-hippie “share the love” type and tried to hug him once.) My brother says that there is a “high probability” that he will be able to get my wallet back, but he says that if he does this for me, I’ll have to promise not to talk to the cops anymore (I have already filed a report) because a few of his friends were also involved in the same sort of crimes in the neighborhood on the same night.

Which raises an interesting scruples question: Do I get my Ipod and wallet back, and drop the subject, knowing that the group probably will hit other houses on other nights (but not mine), or do I report him to the police against my brother’s wishes and (probably) take down the entire group in the process… possibly getting my ipod back… but also possibly setting my brother up to be a snitch.

I am leaning towards the first option… but I just don’t know. Is it not really ok to let something like this just slide, especially now that I know that the entire block was hit?

shadowfelldown's avatar

I actually posted a follow up question with the above details: What SHOULD I do to catch a thief?

dpworkin's avatar

I find most ethical dilemmas can be resolved by judicious application of the question, which course of action does the most good and the least harm for the largest number?

You must, of course, answer this for yourself.

Darwin's avatar

You can always wait until you get your wallet and iPod back, and then snitch.

That works best if you don’t like your brother.

What is a “hippie” love-everybody type doing taking other people’s stuff? Isn’t that a little materialistic and, like, bad karma or something?

Kayak8's avatar

I don’t think I would encourage your “huggy hippie” brother to try and recover any of the items as that alone could put him in danger. If you file a police report and they catch the skin-head kid for other reasons, they might find your stuff in his possession and your brother (and his ne’er do well friends) are out of the equation. I would check with local pawn shops and leave your name and number should the ipod turn up (although doubtful). Sometimes these pawn shop guys are clever (e.g., take a video of the kids who brought in the stolen video camera in the effort to ensure that the camera really works).

Zaku's avatar

If it were an iPhone, you could get Apple to help you find where it is and go get it with the help of the police. I don’t think an iPod can do that, though. I guess you could leave an iPhone in the car, with a silent motion detector alarm on your car so you know when someone might be stealing it, and hope you can track them that way.

Or, imagine some other sort of bait that they might be tempted to cash in and get caught with.

Or, motion detector with camera. They make cameras that take pictures on motion…

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