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Social Media Saved My Car From Theft

Posted by on Feb 1, 2011 in BLOG, justice, social media | One Comment

Peeps, I swear to you I didn’t make this up. Not even in my wildest, most self-medicated dreams could I have thought up the sequence of events that occurred in the past 36 hours. The title though says it all… being a Facebookin’, Twittering, Craigslist surfin’ Bay-Area-Tech girl actually enabled us to get our car back after it was stolen from our driveway.

Act 1 – The Ozzie Open

We get home after dinner and a movie, come through the garage in the usual way, and stay up to watch Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the Ozzie Open. A good end to a good day, says the hubby.

Climb in bed, go to sleep. We think we’ll sleep in since we are heading to Alcatraz the next day with the upstairs neighbors. Note: We hear NOTHING out of the ordinary during the Ozzie open, or in our dreams.

Act 2 – What the F?!?


Wakey wakey at 10am. The upstairs neighbors (my sister in law and her boyfriend) are already up and at em, grabbing coffee. Sister asks me if I want some, I say sure. 15 minutes later she comes in through our door and says “I thought you guys had left us”. Why would you think that? I ask. “Because your car isn’t there.”

What the holy F?!!?

Slowly, surely, panic is rising from the pit of my stomach and threatening to burst out the top of my head. This is nothing compared to my husband, who looks like someone just gave him an uppercut to the solar plexus. We sprint outside. Obviously, we find nothing. Out of sheer desperation I do a lap around the block. No, none of our friends had played a prank on us and moved the car a couple of driveways down.

Hubby realizes the awful truth: Our car is stolen. Our only car. With about $2000 worth of drum equipment in the back. And the valet key. And the garage door opener, the garage being where our apartment residents store bikes, snowboards and skis, tools and other fun stuff that is easily stolen and resold at a pawnshop. The garage which leads to all of our apartments, whose doors are not always locked.

We count ourselves lucky they didn’t think to open the garage, clean us out and/or cut our throats in our sleep.

Act 3 – Online whining


Hubby immediately shuts himself in his man cave, grabbing insurance docs, calling the police, filling out claim forms (it was his car in the beginning, it became “our” car when I said I Do). Without anything better to do, I whine on Facebook. “Our car got stolen from our driveway” I say on my status message. I give the license no. and say there’s a chance someone might see it on the road, to call the police if they do.

10 minutes later, my friend H sees the message, and suggests we put it on Craigslist. “That’s how my friend got his stolen motorcycle back” she says. OK, here we go. I post on Craigslist… while I’m at it, I look through ads for drum equipment or people selling  cars. I also Tweet the event and hope someone responds.

No luck. Defeated, I escape for a few hours with my sister in law. Hubby is still in his man cave, irascible and uncommunicative. I think it’s better to leave him alone for a few hours.

Act 4 – What the  F?!?! (PART 2)


Flash forward to evening. Car still not found. Hubby has decided that if it is indeed time to lose a car, the best thing he can do is say goodbye properly. We grab a nice bottle of wine, go out to dinner with the neighbors, and drink to the end of our driving days.

We get home and a message appears in hubby’s voice mail. “I think I have your stolen car,” the voice says. “It’s parked in my driveway.”

For the second time… (say it with me) What the F?!!?

Turns out the guy saw our car parked in his spot. It had the sunroof open, stuff strewn around the backseat. He Googled our license plate and found the Craigslist post. He called us within 5 minutes. He even put his car mat on the top of our car since it started raining. There are still good Samaritans in this world after all.

Act 5 – The evidence


The car, thank god, is safe and sound. Some drum equipment missing but not all of them. It looks like the person/people who left it in the driveway intended to come back because they left some souvenirs.


Hubby finds a bag of crappy makeup, woman’s clothes, and 2 slips of paper in the backseat. One of them is a release form from the hospital saying the bearer had a hernia. The other is a prescription for Vicodin. They belong to someone named Ashley Wirth. I check Facebook and there are a dozen Ashley Wirths listed, none of them specifying California or San Francisco as their home town. Luckily the prescription should lead the police to her doorstep from the hospital records. (Does someone out  there reading this actually know this person? Because we’d love to give you a reward for bringing her in).

In any case – for all you people out there decrying the loss of privacy online, for everyone who thinks Twitter is for twits and hate Facebook (maybe you don’t have enough friends?), for those who fear Craigslist because of the sensational murder stories attached to it – Thecommich says, dude, it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s really mostly awesome. At what other point in history would it be possible for people to help someone recover a car within a day of it being stolen? For a total stranger to Google an anonymous license plate and save me and my husband from months of paperwork, fees and carlessness?

And if social media goes a step further and actually helps us find the idiots responsible for this theft, I will consider all the time I spend incessantly updating, retweeting and blogging completely Wirth it.

1 Comment

  1. Arvind Juneja
    February 23, 2011

    I'm always like 'whaaaaat?' when it comes to the

    "He Googled our license plate and found the Craigslist post."

    .. I mean, who actually does things like that? googling a license plate of some car..

    there is still hope in SM :)))