iPod stolen — and returned

What Jennifer didn’t mention in her post about our new washer and dryer — indeed, what she really couldn’t mention until the situation was resolved — was that one of the delivery guys helped himself to her iPod during their job. Don’t worry: we got it back, and I believe that charges are going to be laid.

Figuring out what had happened was trivial. Between the time that Jennifer last used it (when we were preparing the basement for the machines’ arrival) and the time we noticed it missing, the delivery guys were the only other people in the house. They were the only plausible suspects: both it and they were in the kitchen. And yet I had a hard time believing it was possible: someone couldn’t be that dumb to swipe something. It’s not like something like that going missing wouldn’t be noticed.

Apparently, someone was that dumb.

Jennifer filed a police report on Sunday morning, but contacted Sears on Tuesday. Sears shat bricks and referred her to the delivery company they contract with. They, too, shat bricks and began investigating the situation themselves. By the evening, they had not only figured out who the culprit was, but had managed to get the iPod away from him. By Wednesday evening, it was back in Jen’s hands. They’re wonderful people, a family company, and we can’t thank them enough.

Apparently, the fool was trying to sell the iPod for $50 — as though something that obviously high-value, sold for so little money, could be anything but hot. Besides, it was missing all accessories — not just the charger, but also the earphones. And I’ve learned that pawn shops routinely check serial numbers with the cops; and we’d already reported the serial number, so it’s not like that avenue wouldn’t have worked. So, dumb all around.

But it gets better. Jen’s iPod, a third-generation, 20-gigabyte model, is approaching four years old. Its battery life isn’t what it was. Now at the moment she uses it either in the car or attached to a set of portable speakers, when power is provided anyway, so it’s not serious for us (on foot, she uses her iPod shuffle). But the upshot is that it’s considerably more valuable to us than it would be to a prospective buyer, especially without a fresh battery.

But the dumbest thing about this is that, for a creaky old iPod with a weak battery that he tried to sell for a paltry fifty bucks, the culprit has lost his job and is facing charges. This on top of other theft charges he is apparently facing. He had the potential to make a reasonable living at his job — truck delivery does not pay badly, and the $50 could have been made in another couple of hours. Now he’ll have trouble finding work: who’s going to hire someone who has a tendency to rob your customers?

A dumber case of self-inflicted foot-shooting I can’t think of. And it’s not like I don’t have other candidates. Two months into her gig at John Paul II High School, Jennifer’s Palm was stolen by her students; the dumbasses actually wrote their names on the device while it was in their hands; as with the present case, the gadget was back in her hands in a few days. And last January, when Goober was missing, a couple of kids decided it would be funny to prank-call us announcing that they’d found him; too bad the silly girls called from a cell phone, and we have call display. Written apologies in our hands within 24 hours.

No one should ever think that rural areas are free from crime; we’ve never been the subject of so much petty theft and mischief in our lives. But rural people are generally good people, and rural networks are useful: it’s amazing how effective the grapevine can be in solving such cases. In the city, you’d never see your stuff again; in the country, the pool of potential culprits is smaller, and known. Putting the word out might actually help.

And there’s one other thing in our favour: are crooks out here ever dumb. It’s a cinch to catch them. As Jen says, “They breed a special kind of stupid out here.”