Sunday, 15 May, 2011
Twitter helps break news and aid in political uprisings, but after one guy helped recover the stolen laptop of a stranger he followed on Twitter, it seems the social network is also going to revive a dying breed: the vigilante.
After Sean Power had his laptop stolen in New York City, he used Prey—the awesome (and FREE) tracking software—located the laptop, obtained the culprit's Skype name and snaped a screenshot of the guy using it. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to file a police report before having to leave NYC for a few days, so when he finally tracked down his computer, the cops more or less refused to help. That's when Power started tweeting.
What ensued was a flurry of tweets from followers who dug up all sorts of info on the accused, while spreading the word. A female friend of Power's was already at the bar where Prey had pinpointed the computer, but was hesitant to try and handle the situation alone.
But a complete stranger, Nick Reese, happened to be in the neighborhood where the laptop was located. After receiving links to the unfolding saga, debating whether or not to help, and having friends prod him, he finally hopped a cab and went down to the bar.
Once there, he casually confronted the thief (who worked—or possibly owned—the bar where he was using the computer), and got the laptop back with little resistance, scoring a victory for Twitter nerds everywhere. There's a whole, chronological twitter stream here, detailing what went down in realtime. And it's a pretty entertaining story to skim through, involving highs, lows, moments of doubt and multiple characters.
And internet, can we keep crowdsourcing all our law enforcement needs? With local police squads going bankrupt all around the country, I'm all about a bunch of shadowy, hockey-masked randoms popping up to save the day.