First Draft: This burglary case came to a surprising ending late Sunday.
Earlier in the day, the photos went viral, especially on Facebook, as people posted and reposted them. I received calls from all over Honolulu and from several places on the mainland, as people examined the pictures and saw a resemblance to someone they know. Then there were two local television stations which decided to run stories on the case. Capturing photos of the burglary in progress apparently made it news.
The crowdsourcing brought results. Quite a number of people–more than a dozen–contacted me and independently named a Hauula man as the person in the photo. Some said they saw answers posted online on other Facebook pages with the man’s name as well. Many were quite positive in making this identification. As it turns out, they were wrong. That’s an important lesson that we all have to deal with.
The case turned late in the day with a phone call from an unidentified man. “I know the person in the photo,” he said. “But I want to talk to him before I say more.”
I thanked him, and told him he could contact me at any time. The call ended. I wondered if it was for real. The answer came several hours later.
We had finished our dinner, cleaned up, and were in that awkward period at the end of the day where it’s just a little too early to go to bed, but too late to start anything new.
Then my cell phone rang again. It was about 8:10 p.m. It was the same man. He said he was in Kaneohe, and wanted to come out to meet me. He had, he said, retrieved most of what had been taken from our house.
I gave him directions to our house, and within 30 minutes I saw his headlights as the truck pulled up to our driveway.
The short version is that the burglar is a member of this man’s family, and the family has been working hard to keep him out of further trouble, help him deal with a drug problem, and get his life back under control. It was a relative living on the mainland who saw the photo and called to ask, “Is that uncle?” The family agreed it was, and confronted him. They quickly got the story out of him. They also set about retrieving the stolen property, which was delivered to me in a black bag, there in the dark, in our driveway in Kaaawa, about 9 p.m. at the end of a long Sunday.
The family, he said, is taking responsibility. They know that with the photos in circulation, there may well be additional consequences. They have told the man that he has to face the problems, and that he can rely on his family for support. I wish them luck.
Meanwhile, the “right” path from here forward isn’t clear to me at this point. We are still literally overwhelmed at getting the bag of stuff returned. We were coming to terms with the loss, and now most of the stolen property is back. That’s a big emotional U-turn and hard to maneuver.
By the way, two people did correctly identify the burglar. But they were in a distinct minority among those who offered up names. It’s something to ponder.