It’s a Small World (Social Media Crime Fighter Edition)
And I have the badge to prove it…
Last night, I was leaving dinner with my friends, Marianne Masculino, Cesar Torres and Dane Hurtubise (and Dane’s friend, Ray) when we found a backpack on the sidewalk a half block from the restaurant. As Dane started checking it out, I walked off thinking boys were silly for picking up a backpack from who-knows-where left on the sidewalk in San Francisco. That’s when I noticed a nice small leather bag just a few feet away that I picked up to inspect. The bag contained an iPad and a temporary bank card.
Dane said “There are passports in the bag.”
Marianne said “That’s a folder from the bank when you open a new account.”
Cesar said “There’s a knife* on the sidewalk too.”
We picked up all of the items that were laying on the sidewalk within 10 feet of the empty bag and inspected them more. Moleskine notepad, collected business cards, foreign money, disposable phone, credit cards, underwear**…
We had a name from the passports, David Adewumi, and an email address (thanks unlocked iPad) with a company name. So we did what any normal person who works in the interwebz would…we Googled him. Used to write for VentureBeat, graduate of Penn State, co-founder at innoblue. This guy was like us; entrepreneur, geeky, intelligent. So why was his stuff strewn on the sidewalk of San Francisco?
Because we weren’t sure what we were facing, though all of those CSI and Law and Order episodes we’ve watched helped us create scenarios of what might have happened on the mean streets of SF, we decided to call the police as we had no idea where David might be.
Me to the police, “Hello. I have a non-emergency to report. We found a backpack on the sidewalk with a bunch of other items including and iPad, passports, credit cards. There’s also a knife, but it doesn’t look like it’s been used…but we haven’t really looked at it.” The police told me we could drop it off at a police station or we could wait until an officer arrived, but it may be a while. We decided we’d take it in.
Dane walked Ray to his car a few blocks away while Marianne, Cesar and I sat in my car with the bag, doors locked, being very aware of who was around us. I DM’d VentureBeat alums, Anthony Ha (who I later saw was on his way to Berlin for a much deserved vacation!) and Jacob Mullins to see if he knew David. We looked on Facebook to see if we were ‘friends’ or who we had in common. Dane called us while walking to Ray’s car to tell us he KNEW this guy and had his number in his phone as they met a few years ago in SF. (Cue creepy music)
We collected Dane and drove to the nearest Police Station, which isn’t in the greatest area. As I parked, Cesar advised me to pull up in one of the “reserved for police car” spots. Thankfully I’m smarter than that… We walked in to the deserted police station and took care of business. No really, we all had to use the bathroom so we took turns with the bag while we each went through the metal detectors (observation–guys usually have more metal objects on them than women which set the alarm off!) before the guards took us behind locked doors to the bathrooms. Guess we looked safe enough to let through.
For the next 3 hours, we waited at the police station while they looked through all of the items and logged them. Shortly after we got to the police station, I emailed the innoblue’s “contact us” email address, hoping someone would get it and would know where David was. It was a simple email saying we found his bag and items and were taking them to the police station. We put on our thinking caps to discuss what might have happened. David’s a runner (thanks Google!) so we wondered if he had been mugged and chased the guy down. We kept saying that we hoped he was OK.
Three hours is a long time, but we kept ourselves entertained. I tweeted about another case being filed. We sang “Every breath you take” by The Police. We talked about which character from Scooby Doo we each were.We did more research on David (the lead on his About.Me pageis touching). Cesar told the office that we found a number for David’s father and he was escorted behind the glass where he was quickly promoted to IT support because he was the one who actually knew how to turn the iPad on. We documented our visit on Path and assured our friends we were all fine. We were weary of the homeless man who came in (and camped out for at least 30 minutes) to try to get a ride to the hospital.
Just as we were about to leave, still with no news on David, I got an email from him. “Someone must have broken into my car. I’m on my way to the police station now.” The police officer called his cell number included in his signature on the email. She was a bit confused saying “Oh, it just said his name but it’s still ringing?” We looked at each other, nodding our heads. Google Voice. We waited around for David to arrive and were relieved to see him walk through the doors a few minutes later, wearing a Hipmunk shirt. We introduced ourselves, with Dane saying they met a few years ago and David remembered Dane’s startup, JobSpice. He was even a loyal customer! David told us he had parked his friends car a few blocks away from a party he was attending at Twilio and checked his email with 3% battery left and saw my email. Crazy!
We’re SO glad David is safe and were happy to return all of his items to him. Someone had broken into the car, busted a window, and stole 2 backpacks that were in the car, but left his MacBook in the car. We’re not sure what happened to the other backpack. Maybe another good samaritan found it and has turned it in.
As we left the police station, I realized my car wasn’t across the street. Minor freakout that it had been stolen, until I realized I parked up the street. Maybe I SHOULD have parked in the reserved Police Car spot.
Just another day fighting crime…NBD.
*Not to take away from that dramatic statement above, but it was a ginormous hunting knife in a case that said US Air Force.
**David told us those were his emergency pair…cause you never know when you might need ’em!