Stolen Cellphone Leads To Full-Scale Manhunt

In Palo Alto, cellphone theft is taken very seriously. If you think I'm exaggerating, then consider this: Officers from three law enforcement agencies conducted a full-on manhunt—complete with a helicopter search—just because some guy stole a Droid.

Apparently the thief asked to briefly borrow someone's cellphone—a Motorola Droid—and instead of returning it simply hopped onto a potentially stolen bicycle and rode away with the gadget. Shortly after the crime was reported, an officer spotted the thief and chased him on foot until the criminal escaped out of sight.

At this point authorities knew they had a very slippery fellow on their hands and proceeded to set up a perimeter, conduct yard-to-yard searches, alarm nearby residents of the evildoer in their midst, and take advantage of a sheriff's helicopter that was in the area.

This was all part of a perfectly reasonable response to such a crime, by the way:

When asked after authorities called off the manhunt whether the response fit the crime, Nielepko said, "I think the helicopter is what threw more attention to this." He added that the response was both standard and appropriate.

"Whenever we see there's a threat to public safety, we're going to dedicate any resources we have to apprehend that person," he said.

"The threat to public safety would be an unknown person jumping through citizens' backyards."

Oh, and in case you were wondering: The thief wasn't caught by the time the manhunt was called off. [Mercury News via Farhad Manjoo]

Image by Dusan Bartolovic/ShutterStock