A designer who had his laptop stolen helped police by using a spy camera programme to take pictures and catch the thief red-handed.
Joshua Kaufman thought he had lost his Apple MacBook when a thief broke into his apartment and stole the computer in March.
And with police giving his burglary report a low priority, he was resigned to never recovering the expensive laptop until he remembered the software he had installed on his MacBook.
Caught in the act: The hapless thief, who police later arrested, stares unwittingly into the camera of the stolen Macbook
None the wiser: The same man’s mugshot is snapped as he uses the computer while sitting in bed
Using ‘Hidden’ software, he remotely took pictures of the thief using his stolen computer – before handing the evidence to police to make an arrest.
Mr Kaufman captured the thief in a variety of bizarre locations – including using the stolen MacBook in bed, and in his car.
‘Hidden’ also provided him with location information, which police in Oakland, California, used to identify the thief as a taxi driver.
Officers then caught the thief by arranging for a ‘pick up’ from his car firm and arresting the man when he appeared in person.
Mr Kaufman said he started using the software once he realised his laptop had been stolen when the thief got into his apartment through an open window on Monday, March 21.
He also lost a Kindle and some jewellery stuffed into a computer bag.
Out and about: The thief was even captured using the stolen Apple computer while driving his car
Always watching: Another covert snap shows the thief sleeping on his sofa
A few days after activating the program he started receiving pictures revealing of the hapless thief in action.
Mr Kaufman said: ‘The following Thursday I started getting images and location information.
‘I was amazed. I was, like, this thing actually works!’
The thief was captured using Mr Kaufman’s computer to browse Middle Eastern music videos, changing the laptop’s account information and even typing a password to get on Facebook.
Evidence: The ‘Hidden’ software even takes screenshots once your laptop has been stolen showing the activity of the user
Logging on: Another screengrab from Joshua’s laptop showed the thief trying to log into his Facebook account
Got him: Joshua detailed his hunt for the laptop thief, before celebrating with online fans on Twitter
But his one-man investigation hit an obstacle when police told him they didn’t have the resources to follow up his complaint – despite him telling officers exactly where the thief was.
It was only when he created a blog – ‘This Guy Has My MacBook’ – which generated support from thousands on the internet, that police were forced to revisit the case and eventually catch the thief.
Mr Kaufman added: ‘I was excited, honestly – it feels like the power of the Internet is on my side.
‘They (Oakland Police department) said, we’re really sorry you fell through the cracks.’
Mr Kaufman said he was told by Holly Joshi, OPD’s director of public relations: ‘We have about 2400 theft reports that come in per month, and 3 theft investigators.’
After two months of ignoring Mr Kaufman’s information, Oakland Police finally nabbed the thief on Tuesday night after he was caught on camera.
He tweeted shortly after: ‘ARRESTED! An Oakland police officer just called me to let me know that they arrested the guy in my photos! BOOYA!’
Later, he tweeted: ‘This just in: MacBook acquired by the OPD! The officer was so kind on the phone: “It’s these kinds of partnerships that make things happen”.’