The Vigilante Strikes Again

It is Thanksgiving 2015. I’m up at 7:30am driving to Provo. I’m not heading out to play in the TurkeyBowl (as if that would ever happen) and I’m not traveling to spend the day with relatives. I stop at the Maverick on Center Street just off the freeway, walk up to the counter, ask the cashier to give me an iPad, and was promptly given an iPad….. But, OK, let me backup here.

This story starts over a year earlier while I was on an extended engineering assignment working at a rural dam in the fall of 2014. One of the nights Julie and the kids met me at a hotel halfway between our home and the worksite to hang out and swim that evening. We had a great time as a family that night.

However, the next day our iPad was left in the bed after we had all departed and gone to our separate destinations. Oops. It didn’t take long for us to determine that the iPad was missing and Julie called the hotel on her way home (this probably wasn’t more than 45 minutes) after leaving. The hotel staff said they would go look for the iPad but that the room had already been cleaned and nothing had been found.

Later that night I drove back to the hotel determined to find the iPad. I talked with the general manager, looked through the room, and the manager even showed me the laundry room (as if that would prove that none of the hotel staff have the iPad). I was pretty upset at the dishonesty of the staff despite having called so quickly after leaving the hotel. But alas it was really our fault for leaving it behind.

That afternoon Julie changed her icloud settings to send a lock code to the iPad, put it into lost mode, and put my phone number on the lock screen. Unfortunately as it was a wifi only ipad we could not track it until the thief connected it to wifi. We watched icloud for months to see if it would show up but alas it did not. 😦

A year passed with no news of the iPad. In early November 2015 I checked icloud for an unrelated reason and shockingly noticed that the iPad was listed as online! I immediately checked its location and tracked it to an apartment complex near BYU. The density of the apartments in the area was such that it would be very difficult to direct police to a specific unit as I’d previously done to locate an old stolen phone. That time I was responsible for putting an a wanted criminal behind bars (get that story here).

I set the iPad into lost mode again (didn’t work the first time?) and put the following as the lock screen message, “This iPad is lost, please return it by calling xxx.xxx.xxxx.” I used the words “lost” and “please” to increase my chances of getting the it back. I thought if I were too intense the person would just throw the iPad away. However, I couldn’t let them off too easy and sent repeated chime commands to the iPad over the next few weeks to draw as much attention to it as possible. I imagine it became pretty annoying.

Despite all my efforts there was no call, no text, no news at all. Humph.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I got an obscure text message late at night. I was told that my iPad had just been found “on the ground” and that they would like to return it. I was polite over text and was told they’d make contact again after the Holiday to return it. I remember thinking that this was all very interesting but I was still pretty skeptical that we’d actually get the iPad back in one piece.

However, at about 7:00am on Thanksgiving morning I got another weird text message from another phone number. I have your iPad, (found it on the ground at Maverick). I got a call a few minutes later from some guy. Said it was sitting on the ground near a table at the Maverick. He said he doesn’t have any idea how it got there. He took it into the cashier and left it with them. I remember saying, “thanks for calling,” and hung up the line as it was clear that he didn’t want to discuss it further.

To wrap this up, the iPad was still in working order and the kids still use it to this day. Of course I wiped the iPad to clear it of all data and disinfected that thing like no other. Thanks Apple for making “lost mode” and tracking available in icloud. Thanks to the folks that returned the iPad but NO thanks to the person that stole it.

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