How Social Media Caught a Thief

Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Business Technology, Business Video [ 1 Comment ]

Technology can be a wonderful thing. Heck, sometimes it even helps solve crimes.

Take for instance the case of Bay Area resident Joshua Kaufman and his missing MacBook.

When a thief allegedly took the California resident’s laptop from his apartment back in late March, he probably thought he was home-free with a new piece of equipment that he never paid for and Kaufman was left helpless. Guess again.

Kaufman, who works as a designer for a company providing on-demand email and one-to-one marketing, put to use the “Hidden” software that he had installed on the machine, allowing him to monitor and obtain pictures of the individual who allegedly swiped the machine.

By using the built-in iSight camera, Kaufman put together a blog with pictures of the suspect at different times of the day as the individual operated the MacBook. While it took some time, Kaufman and authorities were led to the suspect, a limo driver, who they set up by seeking a ride.

Much to the alleged thief’s chagrin, Kaufman was able to get his target photographed in a number of comprising positions, including one where the suspect is allegedly seen driving away with the computer.

Kaufman, who was blogging regularly about the alleged theft to a blog called “thisguyhasmymacbook” also, posted updates on his Twitter account and to Tumblr of the hunt for the reported thief, along with retweets and pickups to Gizmodo and Gawker, respectively.

With the outpouring of technological evidence presented showing just who and where the alleged thief was, along with different Internet social tools and the media egging them on to act, the Oakland Police Department finally did just that.

For its part, the police department stated that its theft investigations unit handles more than 2,000 cases monthly divided among only three investigators. A department spokesperson claimed Kaufman’s information was erroneously filed and did not receive top priority.

Once it did act to set up the reported perpetrator, the police department had their suspect and charged him with possession of stolen merchandise. Kaufman, in turn, was given back his MacBook.

As he tweeted on June 2, Kaufman stated, Important to know: the guy was charged with suspicion of possessing stolen property but police have no evidence that he stole the MacBook.

With technology continuing to expand, don’t be surprised to hear of more such cases.

Heck, who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Photo credit: hightech-edge.com


One thought on “How Social Media Caught a Thief


  1. avataramybradley

    Anything that takes pictures of someone without their knowledge can be nailed with a breach of federal wiretap regulations. So this software is not advisable…go with something that will just trace the IP address, give it to the police, let them handle. http://bit.ly/mkFtgf


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