Case of the 'Stolen' Camera

>> Saturday, July 25, 2009

A tale of a lack of cautiousness, but an abundance of hope; a tale of a bad mistake and a good neighbor.

Friday Morning
On Friday, July 24 I arose at 6 a.m. as I do every Friday. Depending on the time of year, I wake up early for prayer (fajr) and meditation. This Friday, I did not.

Although I felt guilty, I proceeded with my morning. I always wake up early on Fridays to make sure that our garbage and recycling bins get picked up.

I put on my shoes and went outside. My neighbor was heading to work. None of my cans were out, so I put all my bins and my other neighbor's out.

Soon after, the guy from ACI came to take the blue bins.

Confession: The other reason I wake up on Fridays is to watch the garbage man grab the bins. Since I was a child, it fascinated me. Watching the trucks claw reach out and pick up the bins was just so cool. So, when I saw the truck, I ran inside to get my camera.

This was a total impulse move and I ended up paying for it.

I photographed the truck as it rolled out. I figured, I would wait until they came for the trash and the green bin to get more pictures. In the meantime, I would take all our blue bins back in and sweep up the backyard. While waiting, I put my camera on the ledge by the gate (so it'd be accessible).

Caught me slipping
I needed to use the bathroom, so I ended up going back in the house. I don't remember if--at the time--I was aware I left the camera outside. I may have assumed, "There's never anyone up at this time. It'll be alright."

When I go back in the house, I was my hands, use the lavatory and come back out.

Where is my camera
When I got back outside, something was different. I look to the ledge where I left my camera.

I thought to myself: "Where is my camera?" "Oh, no!"

I went to the fence and looked down the block. I don't see anyone. I go to the front of the house, no one. My neighbor is getting in his car to go to work.

"Have you seen anyone outside?" I ask

"No, I just came out the house," he responds. Damn.

I go back inside and ask my mom if she saw it lying around the house. No. She starts to tell me how I need to "slow down."

I don't want to slow down. I want heads to roll. I raise my voice at her but soon apologize.

I then search every room. I retrace my steps. No luck. I run back outside. No luck.

Reporting the theft
I call Alameda Police to make a report. Since I'm in this police academy class in Oakland, I'm somewhat familiar with what they want to know on the phone and try to comply. But the dispatcher was pissing me off.

"I want to report a theft" I say.

"What was stolen?"

"My digital camera was stolen from the back of my house." I tell her my address. "It was about 10-15 minutes ago. There is no one outside"

I also give them the address for the backside of the house since that's where I am.

About 15 minutes po-po show up. Of course, they sent him to the front of the house. I ask him to come around. He drives around the block to the back.

I've seen the guy before, never had any problems with him. But of course that Skip Gates mess is in the back of my mind. I come out the yard and close the gate (and lock it).

I describe the camera, model and make. He asks if I have a serial number.

Serial number? Dang. "No."

He explains that having that makes it easier to verify and if it ever pops up, it'll be in the state database.

He asked for more info and I go to get the strap that connects to it. He eventually comes in and I rush out. He wasn't coming too close to the house w/o a warrant. That's sad. Even in times of need, that suspicion of the the police is there.

He advises me to check out the swap meets because "that's where they'll try to sell it."

"I'm going to do a perimeter search. If they're on foot, they may not be far away." Before he leaves, he checks the recycling bins.

"Did you check these bins? Someone could just be trying to screw you around!"

I checked them already, but I fa sho checked again.

He gave me a report number and his information (he didn't have any cards). He speeds off.

Community watch
Man, I'm pissed. But I'm hopeful.

I had texted a couple neighbors and youngstas from the neighborhood to put out our own APB. The streets talk. I also put it out on Twitter and Facebook.

I got a lot of moral support online. A couple of people told me to chalk it up. But I kept faith.

Saturday morning
Fast forward to this morning, Saturday.

I wake up at 4 a.m. this morning. First thing I do is drop to my knees. I was so grateful to wake up, rested and early. I go outside to see if anyone is walking around. Maybe they think they'll find a video camera today. Or maybe the person will come around looking. It could've been a person walking their dog or jogging, I think.

I go inside and do my morning prayer.

Come back outside. Nobody.

I come back in and eventually, I go back to sleep.

A few hours later, I get awaken by my mom.

Camera found
She says (BLAH BLAH BLAH - BLAH BLAH BLAH) "Someone found your camera. There is a flyer on the pole. Get up and go call them." Now, not to knock what my mama said, but I was hella tired and just don't remember. I'm sure she'll tell you.

I go outside and there is really a flyer taped to the pole.

Found digital camera
Call cell ___
Give description of camera and I will return
Want to find owner

The phone call
I call the number.

"Good morning. I just saw the flyer. You found my camera."

"Can you describe it?" the voice asks.

"Sure. Canon Rebel EOS XTI. And the battery is low."

"Describe the strap on the camera."

Done. He tells me I can come pick the camera up at his work.

I go out to the spot on the base. All the time I'm thinking, "What made him pick it up?"

So I get to the spot, ring the buzzer and I meet Dan.

Good Samaritan
Guy opens the door. He's on the phone. Regular dude. T-shirt and glasses.

He had it boxed and inside bubble wrap. Wow!

Turns out, he was walking to work and saw the camera and all the garbage bins.

"I figured, if I took it, there was a chance I could get it back to you," Dan said. But if someone else took it, the owner would never get it back."

"I waited out there a couple minutes, he added."

He liked the pictures and didn't add any new ones to my collection.

"I saw the pictures of the Chipman Cougars and figured this was a young person trying to do something cool," he said.

Indeed. And Dan did something very good. He not only reinforced my belief in the genuine goodness of people, but he gained a new friend.

In the future

Lessons Learned:
  • Don't leave your shhh...stuff outside.
  • Know your neighbors and know your neighborhood
  • Don't let the police in your house if you don't have to (I learned that from all this Gates controversy
  • Keep the faith
  • When something bad happens to someone, there should be a grace period before you criticize their mistake
  • When something bad happens, don't take it out on your loved ones. It ain't they fault yo ass was slippin

And if you ever find something of someone else's, give it back. I can't describe how good it is to have my camera back.

Updated: 11:35 a.m.
So I called the police to let them know that the camera was found. An officer was sent out to follow-up. We walked around the house to the location where it was taken from.
He wanted to see the camera, so we walked back around to where I came out. I walked in can closed the door behind me partially. This dude steps into the house. I walk up and say, "You mind stepping back out my house."

"No worries" he responded.

I'm not worried, but don't just walk in my house, I thought.



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Insight into my daily regimen. Obviously of a different specimen. Me, myself & I. So fly. Welcome to the Daily Regiment.

This blog is an outlet for me to write about my life experiences. While there will be consistent themes in my writing -- because I am what I project in written form -- the topics will vary from day to day, and post to post.

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