Why Won't The LAPD Help Recover This Stolen Computer? (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Why Wont The LAPD Help Recover This Stolen Computer? (Updated)

Find my iPhone and all that built in tracking stuff is great. But it's only useful if the police are willing to help. If they're not? Well. Welcome to Los Angeles.

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Angel investor and delightfully bearded western shirt wearer Chris Sacca (who, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should note is a pal) sent out a few tweets earlier today after finding his just-stolen laptop for sale on Craigslist. He's found the laptop, has the serial numbers to prove it's his, and basically did all the legwork for the police in a multi unit robbery. Great! Time to scramble the po-po, right?

Not so fast. This is LA.

It turns out that because the police haven't taken a report on the stolen goods yet, they won't do anything about it. Even with proof.

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Sacca's computer was stolen from his brother's video production office, along with his lights and camera rigs. While there, the thieves cleaned out all the other offices in the complex as well—six in all. It was discovered and reported to LAPD shortly after 7 am this morning. But the police haven't sent anyone to take a report yet. And until they take a report—which could be as late as 11:30 tonight—they can't go after the thieves on Craigslist. Got that? Yeah. Us neither.

But it's an illustrative example of both why people so often get frustrated with big city police departments, and how your gadget security measures are only as good as the police who can enforce them. Unless you want to take matters in your own hands, which clearly Chris does not.

Gizmodo readers, can you help a Sacca get his computer back? Tweet something to @lapdhq to ask them to get on the case.

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Update: The L.A.P.D is on it. They've been in touch with me, and it looks like one particularly resourceful officer helped nail the bad guys.

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DISCUSSION

hammerheadfistpunch
HammerheadFistpunch

as a solution to the dilemma of both the importance of the LAPD to be engaged in protection of life and the need to recovery property I propose a new and semi-independent arm of law enforcement. Recovery enforcement, who's sole purpose would be to track down and recover stolen goods. To fund it and to make sure it doesn't draw funding away from the traditional enforcement just make it a fee based service, i.e. 10% market value of the recovered item.

It sucks to think about buying back your own stuff from the police but look at it this way, you would actually have a good chance of getting it back when the current reality is that if something is stolen, chances are, its gone for good and if you do get it back (in the case of people who have their cars returned) its sometimes years later in which time you have already moved on.

So your choices are: report it to the recovery enforcement and if they find it, you pay them 10% and you get it back and they keep on operating as funded, report it as stolen to your insurance and get a check (assuming you have insurance) then they can report it to the Recovery dept and if they find it they can re-sell it and recoup 90% of their money (thus reducing insurance premiums), take the loss as is and realize you aren't really ever getting it back (the current solution) or finally, deal with it (legally) yourself.

Should law enforcement provide this service for free? yes they should, your'e paying taxing to have them protect both person and property. Is it reasonable to expect them to track down and return all stolen items in a reasonable amount of time while also simultaneously keeping the roads safe, drugs off the street and solving or preventing violent crimes, especially with budgets being slashed and fewer and fewer people hired? No it is not.

This isn't a comprehensive plan and there are lots of holes to fill, but frankly, Its not a bad way to do it. The other (scarier) option is to give legal power to recover and prosecute to insurance agencies and private firms...but wow...that's super scary.

Be honest, would you pay $25-30 to get your iPhone back? how about $200 for a macbook or bike. I would.