04.03.2014Personal Tech

Solving a Crime With Technology: An Incredible Story

This is a guest post from Nebraska resident Marie T. She has an incredible story about solving a crime with technology.

My car was in the shop, so I asked a friend to give me a ride home from the bar where I work. It was late, about 3.30 a.m., and I knew she needed to go pick up her son at the babysitter, so I told her she could let me out at the bus stop near my house. I planned to call my boyfriend to come pick me up from there.

A green van was parked nearby, and a woman got out of it and came over to see if I needed a ride. When I told her my boyfriend was coming, she sent a guy over and he tried to convince me to get in the van. I declined again, and they circled around the small park across the street.

When the van stopped again, I instinctively hid my phone in my shirt.

The woman returned and said, “This your purse?” When I told her it was, she walked over, really casually, and just took it.

I tried to take it back and she pushed me down hard onto the sidewalk and got back in the van. But I still had my phone, so I was able to use my camera app to take a picture of their license plate as they drove away.

Just then, my boyfriend showed up. I called the police to report the crime and, just as I was finishing, I got a text.

I had set up account activity text alerts on my credit and debit cards so I would get a message whenever one was swiped. Apparently, someone was using my card at a gas station about a mile away. I called the police back to let them know, and my boyfriend and I headed over there.

The green van was in the lot when we got there, but they peeled out as soon as they saw me. I went in to talk to the cashier and realized they’d left the woman who stole my purse inside the station. She denied having my card but the cashier confirmed she had just used it. Then, she got violent again and punched me.

At that point, the police showed up and, after I filed my report, I went home. Just as I was going to bed, I got another alert. My card had been swiped 30 seconds earlier at a Walmart nearby. I called the police again and arranged to meet them there.

The guy still had my card on him and the store’s video surveillance showed him using it.

The officers told me this was the first time they had ever heard of someone finding her muggers on her own. They told me it was great I had managed to keep my phone, but if it had been stolen, they probably would have used my Find My Phone app (or Android Device Manager, if I had a Droid) to try to track down the suspects.

Of course, I gave them the pictures I had taken as evidence, and I’ve had to go through a lot of paperwork and even a medical exam because the woman assaulted me. But the police say the detective work I did with my phone has made it so much easier for them to make their case.

It’s still a little scary, though. These people had my driver’s license. They could know my name, where I live and all sorts of other things about me. To give me some peace of mind, the police had me register with Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE). Now, I will get a text whenever anything changes about the muggers’ custody situation. Currently, they are still in jail.

Thank you, Verizon, for letting me share my story about solving a crime with technology.

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Photo Credit: Tex Texin via Compfight cc