I know they're not the TV police, but I'm hoping that something, anything can be done here.
November 4, 2010 9:20 PM   Subscribe

What, if anything, can I do with an email sent from my stolen iPad?

So I'm guessing nothing except tell the police, and I'm already doing that. But! I'm hoping the MetaFilter will be all like "Blaow! Surprising hive mind insight!"

Last week, someone broke into our apartment and stole our computers and iPad. We flagged it and moved on in a sense - called the police and levered all of the windows shut. We reset all the passwords for all of the accounts we thought could be in jeopardy, but I left my Gmail password alone in hopes of catching logins from the iPad in "Last Account Activity", given that there's not that much in there of interest to a thief.

Just now, I saw what I thought was spam email. It was an email from a prostitute on Girl Directory that said "yes give a call". However, it was a reply to a message sent by me, which I then noticed was a misspelled request for an appointment.

I looked at the header of the email. It contained "X-Mailer: iPad Mail (7B500)" and had a Verizon IP address. All I can tell from this IP address is that the sender is somewhere in Boston.

I left messages with the detective that initially looked at our case, and talked to the operator at the police non-emergency number. He said that they'd need warrants to do anything, so I should just wait until tomorrow. And I suppose that's true.

But is there anything I could be doing that I haven't been done? And should I expect the police to be able to do anything with the prostitute's phone number? I have a sinking feeling the answer is 'no'.
posted by ignignokt to Law & Government (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe contact the prostitute and offer to compensate hir to be your spy?
posted by nicebookrack at 10:04 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

A related question appeared a few days ago.

Now, the following is probably unwise, but... it's easy to forge email headers. You could spoof an email from the prostitute, with the reply-to field set to a sock puppet email address that you control. In this message, you could solicit some kind of identifying information from your iPad thief... trick him into giving you a phone number or an address. But what are you going to do with that? This is where you still need the police... and if they don't act on the IP address, they're not going to act on that either.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:10 PM on November 4, 2010

I'm not sure if this is appropriate or if you consider it a case of Pepsi Blue, mods feel free to delete, but:

I work for an organisation that provides tools to the public and the police that help to recover stolen property. We have worked primarily in the UK, but are now rolling out these tools in greater capacity in the US.

I noticed that you say the iPad's mail activity came from an IP address in Boston, which happens to be our pilot area for this roll-out.

If you still have your item's serial numbers, visit Immobilize US and register for an account (this is all free), then add your items to this account. Mark the items as stolen. This will take all of 5 minutes, and is all the work needed on your part.

This system provides data to the tools in use with Boston PD presently, who also feed stolen item data back to us along with other organisations including the FBI and NESPIN.

Now, if any of your devices are located by the police, say during a drugs bust or a routine stop and search, the serial numbers will be searched for automatically. Your Immobilise account data will also appear in this search - helping the police reunite you with your property.

In addition, if the thief decides to pawn the device, our data is automatically checked by pawn shops in Boston, using the CheckMEND service.

While this is no guarantee of getting your stuff back, it makes investigation easier for the police and the ability to sell the item on harder for the thief.

This isn't an attempt to shoehorn a sales message in here - I think this could really help ignignokt out, best wishes for a good outcome whatever.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 2:41 AM on November 5, 2010 [13 favorites]

Maybe contact the prostitute and offer to compensate hir to be your spy?

Yeah, this prostitute must know the person who has your stuff. If the police care (they may not) this could be helpful. Otherwise you could try contacting her yourself if you want.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 AM on November 5, 2010

If Boston police are anything like NYC police - good luck. The exact same thing happened to me last year, though I could tell where the theif was within a city block. Talk about an exercise in frustration.

If you're going to do something, I agree with the above - give the police the prostitute's email. They will probably do nothing with it but at least you tried.

Also - if you paid for you iPad with an Amex and bought it within 3(?) months of it being stolen, you may be able to get reimbursed.
posted by Siena at 5:42 AM on November 5, 2010

Response by poster: Hey, thanks everyone.

Nordyne, I gave it shot and registered my stolen stuff. There's a lot of stolen property databases, and they all kind of look scammy, so it was actually get a personal recommendation for one.

I've left two messages with the police, and they don't seem to be getting back to me.

So I'm considering faking an email from one of the two prostitutes he emailed to call him at some Google Voice number I can track. But then, I'm not sure even a phone number for him would be enough for the police to take action.

As for contacting the prostitute, I don't know - would it be worthwhile for her to snitch on a client, even for some amount of money?
posted by ignignokt at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2010

Response by poster: I just got police blessing to fake the email. The thief is pretty stupid, but I think he might be wise to the idea that I could be watching him now, as one of the prostitutes sent a second email and he hasn't responded. Still, worth a shot.
posted by ignignokt at 1:15 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

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