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Tablet stolen, thief identified, cops apathetic--now what?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I present the saga of my stolen Nexus 7, a horrible little gadget that I often came near to dashing against a wall.

 

A couple of days ago, I sat at a computer in a public library, my backpack beside me on the floor. Open, and a little behind me. I was wearing foam earplugs, couldn't have heard someone rifling through it.

 

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Agreed.

 

When I'm leaving, I notice that the tablet and the earphones (not very good ones, thankfully) wrapped around it are gone. A chat with library security reveals that no camera is on the specific area. Probably nothing can be done.

 

Later that day--much later--I remembered that you can check your Chrome history from any computer. I did so.

 

I didn't expect to see anything unusual. The tablet had required a security PIN to be awakened. I thought a kid had stolen it for kicks and had been frustrated to find the code was required. Surely he wasn't past the code yet.

 

Wrong. There was my usual morning browsing, then a big empty gap, then: two email accounts I'd never heard of were accessed. One Gmail, one Hotmail. The full addresses are shown in the history. Clicking on those items didn't allow me to access the accounts, though.

 

The thief then bought something, or attempted to buy something, at an online store that caters mostly to soundtrack lovers. Then he went to Google Accounts, and presumably changed the browser's account to his own--probably the account associated with the Gmail address I'd seen. This stopped me from seeing where he'd gone next. All of his recorded browsing had happened in an eight minute period, a fair amount of time before I'd realized the tablet was stolen.

 

I saw all this standing at a public computer in a different library that happened to be near where I was biking (to vent my frustration) at the moment. I probably couldn't have taken a screenshot. Unfortunately, I didn't even try. I also didn't change my Google password. That was a gamble that wouldn't pay off. I thought: no, I'll let him stay in, if he wants to stay in. Maybe he would leave more of a trail that way.

 

I Googled the two email addresses. One led to nothing, but the other led to a message board account. The board was for discussing orchestral soundtracks. The account's profile page described a man living in the town where the tablet had been stolen, and calling himself a "library advisor." This message board account had been used as recently as March. The email address was in a post.

 

At this point I should have put the two addresses into Facebook, but I never use Facebook, my account's been deactivated forever, and I didn't think about it.

 

I raced back to the library where the tablet had been stolen. A different security guard was on duty. I told him I had two email addresses presumably belonging to the person who'd stolen my tablet their earlier. He called the police.

 

In the meantime, he looked at the notes I'd written down as I'd been looking at my Chrome history. He searched the Gmail address in Facebook. Nothing came up. I thought he might have also have searched the Hotmail address when I simply wasn't looking, but it would turn out that he hadn't.

 

The police came, took down what I knew, and recorded the serial number and the value of the tablet (I'd been carrying the serial number and my receipt around because I thought the tablet was going to need warranty service soon--it was exhibiting the wonkiness than many Nexus 7's have been exhibiting lately). I decided to contact someone on the message board mentioned earlier, who'd sold something to my suspect. I explained my situation and asked him to please contact the local police with the person's identity. I gave him their phone number and my case number.

 

Then, the most worrying thing yet happened. I logged into Chrome to look at the history results again: gone. Not everything, just the items revealing the thief's browsing. Everything before and after--including my searches of his email addresses, so he knows I'm onto him--was still there. I hadn't noticed that beside each item in the history is a pale, tiny pull-down menu, and you can delete individual items. He had. I finally changed my Google password, as I should have done earlier.

 

So, my big question: Have I permanently lost my only evidence? Unless I can get Google to help, it certainly looks like it.

 

The next morning, I finally reactivated my Facebook account and searched the Hotmail address, in case the security guard hadn't. Up came a profile. No photo except of a landscape, but the account seems reasonably active. There are clear indications that it's him.

 

To abbreviate: I now know everything about the thief. Everything. His address, his roommate's name. His work history, which is nonexistent in recent years. Both he and the roommate are involved in classical music, but neither has paying work now as far as I can tell. They live in a rather crappy apartment, but in a very expensive neighborhood.

 

I went to the library to find out if this man really was a "library advisor" there. The library hadn't offered to see if the email addresses matched any of their accounts the night before. This time, a librarian not only checked to see if the man worked there--he didn't, and "library advisor" is apparently just an honorary title for people who really pester the staff--but also confirmed that all of my information about him matched with his patron account. They also checked to see if his account had been used to log into a computer there lately. It hadn't.

 

I went to the police station to share the name I had. A woman eventually came down to talk to me.

 

First of all, she bawled me out. The man I'd emailed the day before, from the message board, had emailed the police station. He was, apparently, IN TERROR. Of me. How had I known he'd sold something to this person?! (Um, Google? I had explained everything to him in great detail.) Etc. She told me to stop trying to figure things out and let the detectives do their job.

 

On the other hand, she told me this: no detective would typically be assigned to the case for a couple of days yet; they wouldn't bother to obtain any records from Google proving anything, because it's just a cheap tablet; etc. I'm not a priority. At all. "We're working a sexual assault case right now."

 

Someone will visit him, eventually, and ask him if he did it. If he says "no," that's apparently the end of it.

 

I'm curious if anyone has any suggestions. Can I get Google to provide some data showing what happened? I'm near Chicago, and I'm certainly willing to go and bug someone in person at their Chicago office.

 

The tablet itself was garbage, but unfortunately it had photos on it which were very important to a Better Business Bureau dispute I'm involved in now. A business owes me a refund of over a thousand dollars, and they're being both dishonest and stubborn about it. Without those photos--which I realize are almost certainly now lost, as I never uploaded them--my chances of prevailing in that dispute are weaker.

 

Just as concerning: on the tablet were scans of my social security card, my Passport, and similar items. In retrospect, yes, stupid. But I had always worried about losing all those things and having trouble proving my identity in that event.

 

The bypassing of the security PIN requirement and the eventual deletion of the history items tells me that this guy is not just a hapless klepto, but something of a pro. I'd love to harrass him via some legal threats, but I can't afford to hire an attorney.

 

Any ideas? I'd really like for this to end with my getting a fair amount of restitution for the tablet and its contents. Incidentally I just noticed, via Google: my thief sold a house several years ago, in one of the toniest neighborhoods in Illinois.

post #2 of 16

The thing is, there's little you can do to be honest. The thief could root the device, and you don't need to be a hacker to do that, once you wipe the software there's not much left to work on android tablets in general. An email won't ever be enough to caught someone either...

post #3 of 16
My son once had a digital video camera stolen from his backpack while he was at a skateboard park. He had a really good idea of who did it, and we called the police. They came to the house, took the statement and flat told us that nothing would be done - they wouldn't even talk to the kid we believed took it. Basically, the only reason for talking to the police was to get the police report so we could turn it into the insurance.

Having something stolen is a violation of your personal space. You want to get the miscreant that did it. You d@mn sure don't want him to away with it free & clear. But that kind of thinking will just make you crazy, and it will make you do something dumb that might get you into real trouble.

Move on. Don't look back. Believe in karma and you will believe that one of these days that @sshat will make a big mistake. Or, maybe karma has an even worse plan for him - maybe he will just continue to live a worthless life stealing crumbs like a miserable sewer rat. Karma is a b!tch!!
post #4 of 16

Maybe a lawyer here can comment ... can't you file a civil suit against the thief?  EZ to do yourself pro se, since you are worried about the attorney's fee.  The court clerk is likely to be very helpful.  Many years ago I filed a real civil suit (in Philadelphia) pro se against Sears and won -- over $2K.  I only had to pay a process server to serve Sears, and that was like $100.  Of course it's easier to serve corporations (typically through some state office) than it is a person ... I don't know what process servers cost in Chicago.

 

There has to be a Chicago lawyer here to help.  Good luck.

post #5 of 16

This just proves how much you can trust and rely on the Web.Nothing is private or guaranteed private on it no matter who says it to you. My PC was "taken over" not by ordinary hackers but people "way above them" to stop me posting elsewhere political comments . I learned no matter how powerfull your PC or "clued up"  on digital programming in the  end you dont stand a chance from "big brother" Even left a message  to let me know it was them. I do not keep ANY personal details on my PC of ANY kind and never will .Nor will I join any of the popular "social networks" for the same reasons And I am not the only one-many Worldwide. Yes it limits my use of the Web but if you open your eyes and check on websites that are not "approved" you will be amazed at who can -wiil-and do "listen in"  

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by duncan1 View Post

This just proves how much you can trust and rely on the Web.Nothing is private or guaranteed private on it no matter who says it to you. My PC was "taken over" not by ordinary hackers but people "way above them" to stop me posting elsewhere political comments . I learned no matter how powerfull your PC or "clued up"  on digital programming in the  end you dont stand a chance from "big brother" Even left a message  to let me know it was them. I do not keep ANY personal details on my PC of ANY kind and never will .Nor will I join any of the popular "social networks" for the same reasons And I am not the only one-many Worldwide. Yes it limits my use of the Web but if you open your eyes and check on websites that are not "approved" you will be amazed at who can -wiil-and do "listen in"  

Have you noticed any black helicopters hovering near your house?

post #7 of 16

There's nothing you can do it seems.  The cops won't do anything, and you know this guys address, but are you going to stop by?  It's not worth the risk, cut your losses and move on.  

post #8 of 16

Billybob -NO but a lot of Americans posting on the same web  site  backed up everything I said and added a lot more of information to  me personally .they have now "disappeared" from the scene. When posters round the World saw I was speaking the TRUTH I gathered a lot of people together who posted the truth also and guess what they were "attacked" as well -PCs shut down /Internet service cut -Australia /New-Zealand/ everywhere. It is obvious that you know nothing of the inner workings of any governments security services-you cant win but at least I got my message across.You notice I mentioned -the social networks- you know the ones-well surprise-surprise I got an email today from-----That's right Twitter--I do not believe in coincidence that's just an excuse for the actions of others. But what it does say is Head-Fi welds great advertising power in the World- not complaining  just complimenting them so I can understand how many advertisers like  buying space on it. 

post #9 of 16

Duncan's got a point, there is nothing to trust in this modern technology enriched age, with easily accessible information almost from anywhere, anything can be reverse-engineered, just rely on yourself.

 

As with the OP. Seem's a "dumb enduser" theif stole your tablet, as if it were somebody with a bit of brains or knowledge, a simple google to wipe the ROM completely via a flash tool even with security/pin codes, will be revoked.

 

Just be thankful it is just a tablet, not your credit card, debit card, bank account that has been hacked. 

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post

Maybe a lawyer here can comment ... can't you file a civil suit against the thief?

 

That's exactly what I'd do if only he hadn't deleted my proof (from my Chrome history) that he was logging into his email accounts on the tablet. If I only had a screenshot of that, I'd demand restitution directly. I suppose I could bluff that I do have that screenshot, and try it anyway.

 

Preferably, I wouldn't have gone to the police at all (the police report was really initiated by library security), but would instead have used the threat of a police report to twist his arm into paying restitution ASAP.

 

I still need to make more of an effort to get through to Google and try to recover that evidence, but I keep calling that off when I imagine their (likely very rude) reaction should I turn up at their Chicago office in person--the only reliable way I'm aware of actually being able to contact them. I did fill out one of their online contact forms detailing the issue, but I'm hardly optimistic for a response. (That's another lesson from this: never buy anything from a company that has literally no customer service whatsoever.)

 

It was a week ago today that this happened, and six days ago that I gave the police his name and address. Still no word from them. 


Edited by Alec E - 7/9/13 at 12:19pm
post #11 of 16

OP, unlucky mate, i feel for u! but as others have said, brilliantly i would add, you should move on, cut losses. the deeper you dig into this, the more headache and trouble you will get. its a bitch yes, but hey that's life **** happens! treat this as a expensive, but very useful lesson (i had my lesson couple weeks back, with my broken car window and stolen sat nav, because i left the sat nav holder still stuck in the window...). but i believe karma will find its way to the thief, so don't worry; )

post #12 of 16

One thing you need to do since your personal info was on the tablet you should request a credit report from the 3 credit agencies  & look to see if anything has been applied for that you didn't apply for.You can also freeze your credit reports so no one can access them to apply for anything. Also I would suggest applying for a service that watches credit activity,Like protect my id.com

You can get 1 free credit reports once a year.

    Being a victim of identity theft I can tell you the faster you protect yourself the better.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by duncan1 View Post

Billybob -NO but a lot of Americans posting on the same web  site  backed up everything I said and added a lot more of information to  me personally .they have now "disappeared" from the scene. When posters round the World saw I was speaking the TRUTH I gathered a lot of people together who posted the truth also and guess what they were "attacked" as well -PCs shut down /Internet service cut -Australia /New-Zealand/ everywhere. It is obvious that you know nothing of the inner workings of any governments security services-you cant win but at least I got my message across.You notice I mentioned -the social networks- you know the ones-well surprise-surprise I got an email today from
That's right Twitter--I do not believe in coincidence that's just an excuse for the actions of others. But what it does say is Head-Fi welds great advertising power in the World- not complaining  just complimenting them so I can understand how many advertisers like  buying space on it. 

I'm not sure what all that has to do with the theft of a $500 tablet, but OK - I'll play along...

You do realize that Microsoft & Google are sending every click and keypress to the NSA, right? Oh - you use linux? That won't help - the core DNS servers and routers have all got taps that go directly to Langley. Route it all through TOR? Good luck with that - TOR was compromised long ago by the NSA, GRU & the Mossad. Darknets? Ha! Who do you think started the Darknets? What better way to keep track of all the the people that don't want to be tracked? It's just a giant honeypot. Face it - if you use any communication devices, your privacy is gone. Your only recourse is to chuck all that technology into the river and head off into the outback. Even then, the Sentinel and the Hummingbird are always watching...

post #14 of 16

Sorry for your loss of tablet... if all this is going sideways, maybe a facebook confrontation? I had a situation like this with an idevice and once I figured who had possession of it, I rounded up a group of mates and had a little face-to-face. I grew up in a part of the world where theft is dealt with violent reprisal and so it is a sore spot with me. I don't necessarily recommend you do this in person but the way things are looking, you don't seem to be getting the device back, so email them and tell them you know the details of their life and can track them down to retrieve your property. All the best.

post #15 of 16

Wow. Props on getting the information you did get. I'd say there is nothing you can do, unless you happen to catch the guy at the library on your tablet. You have the number for the tablet so as long as you could prove it was yours you might have a case. Sorry for the loss. It is best to always keep your possessions at your feet/between your feet in public places.

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