Steal From My Family and You Will Go to Jail (Like this Thief Did)
by Christin Scarlett Milloy
Published: Monday, 2012.10.22
I have just had a whirlwind twenty-four hours, beginning with a minor tragedy, followed soon with a hard-won reversal, and culminating in the sweetest of victories.
Saturday, October 20th, Midnight
My closest associate is [Fake name: Megatron]. They’re my co-conspirator in life, my emotional support all these years, and as close to me as any sibling. At around midnight, Megatron phoned me (hands-free) from their car. The din in the background and the chill in Megatron’s voice hinted that something horribly upsetting had occurred, which was confirmed as Megatron proceeded to recount to me a series of highly unfortunate events.
The drama went down while Megatron was attending the celebratory end-of-season banquet for their queer soccer league, in which I’m proud to say Megatron won “most improved player” for the second year in a row, and in which our mom __ (Megatron’s mom by nature, mine by spirit) won “most spirited player.”
While Megatron enjoyed the banquet, their car lay parked outside, in the heart of Toronto’s queer “village” neighbourhood. There, it became the target of villainy most heinous. Upon emerging, victorious, from the banquet, Megatron discovered the car in a sorry state, with smashed auto glass littering the street and important personal possessions missing from the floor in the back seat.
It seems the scum of the earth had seen fit to smash Megatron’s rear car window and make off with a laptop computer in its case, among other personal possessions stored in a distinctive rainbow bag.
Obviously this is horrible enough on its face, but to put this in further perspective, Megatron teaches a course at University of _______. Course notes, lesson plans, slides, assignments… All recent work, needed in order to effectively teach an entire class full of aspiring professionals come Tuesday morning, was just suddenly gone.
Now, Megatron does back up data regularly. However, due to the responsibility of a new teacher to constantly develop their material, there is always quite a lot of work on this computer at any given time that isn’t easily replaceable, and Megatron was understandably distraught that their car and digital home space had been so savagely violated by some disrespectful societal misfit brute.
Megatron filed a police report right away, but unfortunately there is little good done by urban police forces in these situations. All they can do is make a record and move on, as they are generally too busy harassing pot smokers and subsistence sex-workers to worry about things like a violation of your personal property rights. So, the best Megatron could hope for from reporting the crime was a slip of police paper, proving a criminal event had occurred, thus providing a starting point for insurance paperwork.
But then Megatron called me. I became livid. Steal from my family in my city and get away with it? I don’t think so.
Sunday, October 21st, Midnight to 6AM
First, we confirmed the proper model number of Megatron’s laptop from the original box. Megatron lives out of town, so we called in a favour from a friend back in Megatron’s building to check the box.
While Megatron slept (understandably exhausted), I set out to create a comprehensive list of Pawn shops in Toronto to check for Megatron’s missing laptop the next day.
On a hunch, I also spent part of the night trolling Craigslist and Kijiji. Just in case.
Armed with a few screens of data, Megatron and I, and an intrepid friend named ____, set out the next day on a quest.
Sunday, October 21st, Afternoon
So it came to be that we investigated the seedy underbelly of Toronto’s Pawn Shops, almost all of which are located on Church Street not far from where the crime occurred. That aspect of our quest turned out very anti-climatically… They were all closed (it being Sunday).
Regrouping, and applying our critical thinking skills, we quickly realized that given none of the Pawn shops were open Sunday, it was impossible for our thief to have yet sold the machine to any of them.
Then my mind wandered back to Craigslist and Kijiji. Making use of the local free McWifi as I enjoyed a milkshake (taking care not to give a shit about how many calories consumed, as this is not how I roll), I rapidly located a highly suspicious advertisement.
The ad included the following:
Ladies and gentlemen, today we’re going to introduce HP Pavilion dv6-3120us, which is a 15.6-inch laptop equipped with a 2.40GHz AMD with AMD Turion II Dual-Core Mobile Processor P540, 4GB DDR3 SDRAM memory, and 500GB (5400 RPM) Serial ATA hard drive. It sports a 15.6″ diagonal High-Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366 x 768), and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 Graphics with 128MB DDR3 Display Cache Memory with up to 2045MB total graphics memory. The laptop also includes a HP TrueVision Webcam with integrated digital microphone, 5-in-1 memory card reader, Dolby Advanced Audio with Altec Lansing speakers, 802.11b/g/n WLAN, bluetooth, HDMI, and 6-Cell Lithium-Ion battery with up to 5 hours of battery life. The laptop runs on Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system. Needless to say, such a configuration is good enough for our daily use, people are very satisfied with it.
Features & Specs:
[various tech jargon copy+pasted from HP's website]
Of course, these are just the key features this HP dv6 entertainment laptop offers, you’ll discover more when you get the laptop.
Price as Reviewed: $612.54 (on Amazon) plus taxes with software included worth 750 retail
Please contact [idiot's name] at 416 [idiot's phone number]
This ad was posted with the Kijiji mobile app.
It seems a fine upstanding gentleman, located not far from the scene of the crime, had coincidentally listed for sale the identical laptop model, mere hours after its non-consensual removal from Megatron’s vehicle.
Well. There was only one thing to do.
Sunday, October 21st, 6:30PM
After several hours of wrangling by text message to negotiate the sale of this wonderful sounding laptop to its prospective new owners, we were finally able to
lure meet with the aforementioned gentleman at a well known pizza restaurant located in the heart of the village.
Our other friend ____, who through no fault of her own, bears a more physically imposing presence than either I or Megatron, sat by the door pretending to read the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods, which I highly recommend.
Megatron and I sat near the back. We had agreed previously to portray a lesbian couple, shopping for a new laptop owing to a recent and regrettable event involving our last machine.
When Mr. Gentleman walked in, a young caucasian man in neon green plastic sunglasses and bearing a number of neck tattoos, it did not take long to determine he was in possession of Megatron’s stolen laptop. Megatron nodded and smiled as he approached, in recognition of the identical Targus brand laptop bag (which he had agreed by phone to include “for free” as a consolation for not being able to provide the laptop with its box for some reason). Furthermore, the laptop bag still carried the plastic clip from one of Megatron’s luggage tags which used to be attached.
Additionally, Megatron’s Windows User Account was still present, as was Megatron’s desktop wallpaper, as well as all of Megatron’s academic files.
Megatron and I quickly agreed that this was most definitely a suitable computer for our needs. “The keyboard even lights up when you type, like, at night and stuff,” said the thief… the consummate salesman.
“Would you go down to the bank and withdraw the money, please?” I asked Megatron, which was the code phrase we had agreed on which secretly meant “I have confirmed beyond a doubt that this is your computer, so go call the police.”
The thief had asked for $400 on his online advertisement, and upped it to $420 at the meeting when I had asked him “How much did you say you wanted again?” We were only too happy to agree to the bargain as Megatron headed off “to the bank.”
“I’m sorry to make you wait,” I told the thief. “I don’t mind staying with you,” I told him. I was secretly grateful we had ____ sitting not far away, as this gentleman was larger than me, and possibly dangerous.
“That’s okay, I made you wait for a couple hours while I got down here,” he replied, jittering about shiftily. Damn right you did, I thought.
There was something not quite right about him… I sensed in him the anxiety one would expect of an honourless thief fencing a stolen product, but also an additional, more physical imprecision in his movements… I sensed for the first time that this person was probably a victim of drug addiction, and I experienced a twinge of pity. But I knew also my sense of right and wrong, and my duty to Megatron, I knew what must be done.
So, while we waited for Megatron and the money, we made pleasantries about how lucky we were to be in Toronto, the most accepting community in the world, and reflecting on our various ties to the queer community here.
Before too long, it was over. I have to give Toronto’s Finest credit where credit is due… They responded to Megatron’s phone call in a matter of two or three minutes. They were on the scene so rapidly, it shocked me. As I spied at least five officers entering the pizza restaurant, I stood up and said to Mr. Gentleman “excuse me, a moment.” I had deliberately seated him facing away from the door, so he didn’t see it coming.
I left the laptop, took my purse, and walked around the table and out past the police. I heard them introduce themselves and confront him about holding stolen property, as I left (with ____) and met Megatron outside.
There I encountered a sergeant, who encouraged me to identify myself to the officers on-site (which I’d initially failed to do when I had
cowardly strategically removed my august presence from the battlefield). So I went back in, per police instruction, and said to the officers, “I am one of people who called you.”
“Yo, man, what’d I do to you? What you doin’ to me!?” exclaimed the thief, now in handcuffs. Confronted (and now protected by five uniformed men with weapons), I responded the only way I could.
“Well, you stole my friend’s computer, and all of their files and papers are still on it, so… Officers, I’m going to go wait outside if that’s all right with you,” I said. They assented.
The rest of the evening went about as one would expect. Plenty of paperwork, travel to Toronto’s 51 division police station (where as a reward, I got to read all about the history of Toronto’s police women in their lobby mini-museum while I waited), as well as the awaited return of Megatron’s laptop.
Bizarrely, the serial number we reported from the original sale box did not match the actual serial number on Megatron’s laptop once returned. I can only theorize that TigerDirect must have given Megatron the wrong box at the time of purchase, or that Mr. Gentleman’s cohorts somehow replaced the label on the machine (but I consider that unlikely given they didn’t even wipe the machine, despite Mr. Gentleman stuttering to me at the pizzeria that it was in “a factory condition”). Nevertheless, it’s the same machine, with the same scratches, in the same bag, with all of Megatron’s files and profile on it. We didn’t make a mistake.
[UPDATE: Turned out to be the wrong cardboard box entirely. Megatron's dad ended up finding the right cardboard box the next day, and the serial number does indeed match the computer. It was sent to the police.]
At the end of the night, we were home, Megatron had their computer, and the thief was enjoying a night in the Toronto Police jail.
Hopefully this will lead to the return of Megatron’s other possessions (including costly textbooks, and some sentimental items of marginal intrinsic value), but at the end of the day justice has been done.
I love you, Megatron. Sleep well, Toronto, one less thief is prowling your fine queer streets.
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