When his MacBook was stolen from his Oakland apartment on March 21, Joshua Kaufman immediately notified the police.
Unfortunately, the Oakland police couldn't devote any resources to finding his laptop, so Kaufman launched his own investigation using software he purchased for his MacBook for just this sort of situation, and the power of social media.
All that work paid off Wednesday, when Kaufman retrieved his laptop at an Oakland police station after officers arrested a suspect using evidence gathered by the MacBook -- including photos of the suspect taken by the device's built-in camera at the prompting of Hidden, theft tracking software for iMacs and MacBooks.
You can see pictures of the guy who had the stolen MacBook on This Guy Has My MacBook, a Tumblr blog started by Kaufman to generate some crowd-sleuthing.
After Kaufman gathered data via Hidden, he shared the evidence with a police investigator. Still not satisfied with the lack of progress by police, Kaufman launched his tumblelog last Friday chronicling his plight and the accumulated evidence.
However, it wasn't until he tweeted about it Tuesday morning that things picked up. A few thousand RTs and "likes" later -- not to mention a call to Oakland police by Good Morning America (nothing like national media scrutiny to get the cops moving!) -- and a pair of officers busted the guy with Kaufman's laptop. According to Kaufman:
The police used evidence I had gathered using Hidden (an email address which pointed to a cab service) that he was a driver and tricked him into picking them up.
Later that evening the officers acquired my MacBook from his home.I picked it up from the Oakland Police Department on the morning of June 1.
If you're interested in Hidden, it costs $15 annually to protect one computer. The theft-tracking software can be activated remotely and will collect location data, photos of the user(s) and screen shots.