Stop! After that Thief!
So there I was, in a book store in Mesa, AZ, perusing a shelf of vintage Nancy Drew books, their yellow spines beckoning. Those were the treasured books of my childhood and which I collect still today. Nancy Drew was a plucky sleuth who was always running into crooks and thieves and solving mysteries. Ironically, such a thief walked off with my trusty iPhone after I managed to leave it lurking on that very shelf of Nancy Drew books.
I'd been chatting up a young woman and her mother who were also Nancy Drew fans. I mean, who isn't? We waxed nostalgic about all of Nancy's timeless jaunts, crime solving skills, and her penchant for finding a mystery anywhere she went. I took some photos of the books with my phone for my book hunting Blog entry. Then I managed to leave it laying somewhere between Nancy's Mysterious Letter and The Phantom of Pine Hill. But the adventure it was about to go through didn't stop there. Moments after I left the store, these fans spied my phone and rushed up to the counter, saying, "It's the Nancy Drew lady's phone!" It was left in "good hands." Or so they thought. Meanwhile, I had discovered my phone missing and rushed back into the store only to find that the store a.k.a the "Good Guys" had slipped it on to 3 young male thieves, knowing as the manager later fessed up that the place is full of them all the time, without verifying that it was indeed their phone. They basically aided and abetted the thieves. What's the 411 from Carson Drew, Nancy's famous attorney father? It's one thing if I left the phone on the shelf and then the thieves took it and walked out. However, when the phone is turned in for safe keeping (an intervening event) and then given to thieves in an apparent thieving environment without even verifying ownership, it's a whole new ball game. Even the police officer a.k.a Chief McGinnis was dumbfounded at how easily the phone was handed over. Everyone I tell this story to just shakes their heads and can't believe it. Neither can I.
Dead End Sleuthing
Not one to just sit back and let this go, I managed to get paltry restitution for the dirty deed from the store, but a clue also happened to fall into my lap. Kind of like how clues just magically fell out of criminal's pockets for Nancy Drew to find...
Getting the stupid criminal award of the day, the iPhone thieves accidentally dialed my house phone before the phone was canceled and left a message on the answering machine of them talking in the background including something about an appointment the following Tuesday--but it was too garbled to make out. "AHA!" I said. "Foiled at last!" To my chagrin, and well pretty much what I expected, the police department wouldn't spend any resources on audio cleanup to see if there were any clues or identifying information. The detective said he had a hard enough time getting them to do stuff like that for kidnappings! Great! Hope I don't ever get kidnapped in Mesa, AZ! So, I did what any amateur sleuth like Nancy Drew would do. I spent several weeks doing my own investigation to try and find my phone. Checking pawn shops. Checking Craig's List. Even planning a stakeout when I thought I'd found the phone. Alas, turned out it was a 32gs and mine was a 16gs, thus avoiding the embarrassment of a stakeout gone terribly awry. Ha. Ha. And then, not surprisingly, the trail went cold...
Get a Clue and Get a New iPhone!
Could I live without an iPhone? Probably so. Yet, four months of texting e-mails while on the go on my old tiny size-of-a-credit-card Pantech cell phone later, I found myself mysteriously appearing at the nearest Apple store to get the new iPhone 4. Since my contract on the stolen phone was not up, I had to purchase the new one at double the price. Awesome! Big lesson learned about setting a phone down on a shelf of Nancy Drew books. My husband, who we'll call Nancy's boyfriend Ned Nickerson just for fun here (minus the boring talk of insurance sales and often getting beat up by crooks due to sleuthing shenanigans), fretted about my penchant for setting my phone down in various places to not only gab with fellow Nancy Drew fans but for other totally reasonable reasons to do so. Enter MobileMe to save the day! It's a service from Apple that allows you to track your phone if it gets lost or stolen. The MobileMe software is downloaded onto your phone so that you can log into their website wherever you are and MobileMe will access your phone to provide a location of where it's at and even when it's on the move. It's amazing. The only glitch is that your phone has to be on for it to work. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely lock it down if it's not already and wipe it clean. It costs $99.00 per year, so if you rationalize it, after about 2 years you've paid for another iPhone, or in my case after 4 years it would pay for my new iPhone! Some might say that's not worth the price and would rather hedge their bets. In my case, it would prove to be totally worth it...
Nancy Drew Fan Gets iPhone Stolen
2nd Time in 6 Months! Some Dumb Luck!
An Iraqi refugee and an illegal alien walk into a bar... er...into a house with a refrigerator. Six months after my first iPhone was stolen, I found myself skipping down the stairs with my spiffy iPhone and laying it on the hall table, as I did every day. A brand new fridge had arrived from Best Buy. One that Nancy Drew's housekeeper Hannah Gruen, the fabulous baker that she was, would have wept at the sight of. It was that fabulous of a fridge compared the clunker we'd dealt with the last five years. I had a cake to bake too for a holiday party that evening. The delivery company arrived, contracted by Best Buy to deliver and set up the fridge. Everything seemed to go smoothly and they were in and out. Soon after they drove off, I went to grab my iPhone and head upstairs. It was nowhere to be found. My heart skipped a few beats. I tried dialing it from the house phone. Didn't hear it ringing. I ran upstairs in case I'd left it up there. No phone. Then panic was really setting in. But then, I remembered I had MobileMe and frantically started up my computer and logged into MobileMe.com. It's locator began zooming in on the map exactly where my phone was at--not 10 miles from the house, and definitely not where I'd left it confirming that one or both of the guys from Best Buy's delivery service had stolen the phone!
A Mystery Solved & Suspects Nabbed!
Within seconds, with my adrenaline flowing like Mount Vesuvius, I speed dialed the sheriff's office and quickly told them about the incident and asked if they could send a deputy out to the moving truck to recover the phone. Now, in Nancy Drew's world, this generally produced results immediately! In the real world, that's not always the case. However, luck must have been with me or it was a slow crime day in Queen Creek, AZ, because a deputy called me back quickly and was in hot pursuit of the delivery truck. With me tracking my phone and guiding him with directions on its location, he soon had the truck in his sights. I'm not going to lie, had I been able to track my iPhone on another mobile device (didn't have any of those), I would have been in the car speeding over there like Nancy Drew in her roadster on the trail of the Crowley Clock thieves in The Secret of the Old Clock! As fast as the law would allow, of course...
Meanwhile, deputy number two arrived to take a report and join in on the MobileMe tracking fun. Was it amusing that he sat in his vehicle making said report right behind my car with the big bold NCYDREW license plate? Probably so. Deputy number one made a traffic stop on the delivery guys but they denied having the phone and wouldn't give it up. The deputy called me asking for more info on the incident to use at his disposal in dealing with these two suspects. I promptly cut to the chase by using MobileMe to send an alert to my iPhone to sound an alarm. Another fabulous feature that led to the discovery of my phone hidden under the passenger seat. The driver, who had spent most of his time in the kitchen with us (who wasn't suspected of taking the phone), was an Iraqi refugee. The other guy in the passenger seat where the phone was found had been in and out of the house more and had acted a bit more shiftier in his manner--for obvious reasons having just stolen the phone! He was an illegal alien from Mexico. He was arrested eventually and hopefully deported by now on a bus back to Mexico in brand spanking new pink underwear no doubt...
If that excitement wasn't enough, I got to go down to the sheriff's department in my NCYDREW car to identify the suspect. Unlike Nancy Drew, who once identified a female suspect while hiding behind a folding screen and had her hair grabbed and pulled (The Thirteenth Pearl), nothing exciting like that happened at the station.
I was congratulated by the deputies for helping aid in the capture of the thief which was pretty cool. I didn't get the key to the city like Nancy Drew did in The Clue in the Old Stagecoach. But, I did get my iPhone back! It was in a plastic bag covered in graphite powder, having been dusted for fingerprints, though none could be recovered. After a humorous and sparkling conversation on CSI fingerprinting techniques and how to clean graphite off on an iPhone, I was off to that holiday party. Would it be amusing to make note that it was a Nancy Drew holiday party? Probably so, but it was a fitting end to a wild ride of a day.
The Moral of this Mystery Story?
Unless you're totally perfect and would therefore never lose your phone or get it stolen, get MobileMe! Not only can you get your phone back, but you can have the satisfaction of getting to play Nancy Drew, nab a thief, and see justice served. All in a day's work for any would-be amateur sleuth.