When Joshua Kaufman's MacBook was stolen during a burglary on his home, and Californian cops did nothing, he decided to do a bit of investigating of his own.
The Oakland man remembered that he had installed an application called Hidden which tracks the movements of the stolen device, takes snapshots using the built in web-cam, and grabs screen-shots so that you can see what the thief is doing.
The MacBook was stolen on March 21st and the police were informed about the burglary on the same day. Kaufamn began gathering photos as well as network and location information using the spycam software which was also given to the Oakland police.
When the cops failed to respond to the additional evidence, Kaufman set up a blog entitled This guy has my MacBook and started Tweeting pictures of the 'new owner' which were picked up and retweeted thousands of times.
By now Kaufman had traced the alleged thief to his place of work through a screen-shot of his Gmail account but even this seemingly solid evidence failed to spur the cops into action.
The tech media started picking up on the story a few days ago and it wasn't until the Oakland police department started getting enquiries from journalists that they started to pay attention.
Within days they had arrested 27-year-old taxi driver Muthanna Aldebashi who is now banged up in jail on $20,000 bail awaiting trial. It's not clear whether the cabbie carried out the burglary himself or acquired the laptop by other means.
A spokesman for the Oakland police said that its failure to follow up on Kaufman's evidence was an oversight caused by the fact that it has three officers to investigate 2,400 thefts every month. Most of these, one would imagine, don't have such useful evidence as a photograph of the possible perp reclining on his bed at home, along with the address of his place of work.