“Hey, babe…there’s no chance you parked the car somewhere other than our driveway last night, right?”
This must have sounded like a dumb question. My wife had been out enjoying a “So You Think You Can Dance” viewing party with her friends the night before, and here I was at 7am the next day standing right where our car was supposed to be… right where she parked it.
“You locked it last night?” I asked suspiciously.
“Definitely.” Meaghan quickly responded.
“No windows left down?”
And so we just stood there. Where our one car used to be, now just an empty, oil-stained driveway with no glass or signs of struggle. Our Subaru, dubbed the “Truebaru”, was now missing in action.
Living in Queen Anne, I guess having my car stolen wasn’t ever really a concern. Loud college students? Sure. Traffic from the Fremont Bridge? Of course. Real life Grand Theft Auto? Not so much.
Just twenty-four hours after our car was stolen from the driveway, we got a call from police. The car was found! After I got the address, we rushed over to the location, just 10 minutes away, in our insurance-provided rental car. The police officer on the phone had told me that officers would not be waiting for us at the car. All we knew was that it “appeared to be drivable”, AKA all four tires were still intact, license plates weren’t missing, and the ignition seemed operable. Thanks to Hollywood, I was braced for the worst. I expected to roll up to some shoddy landfill, lined with barbed wire and a few ferocious looking dogs barking at me from behind a chain linked fence. I expected at least one or two Vin Diesel type characters along the way.
As we arrived at the address we were given, we found our car parked neatly against the curb and in the shade of a tree. Hollywood was very wrong. The only dogs around were being walked by their elderly owners and the fences were picket, not chain link.
On the opposite side of this neighborhood street, we saw two friendly-looking retired age gentleman in what seemed to be an interesting conversation. They only broke the chit chat to watch us pull up behind our Subaru and that’s when one of them gave a friendly wave and walked over our direction.
Again: way off, Hollywood. When he realized we were there to retrieve our stolen car, he shared his sympathy and then went on to inform us that he was the one who tipped the police off about the location of our stolen car.
Apparently, only one week before, he had been walking his usual neighborhood route and noticed a different car parked neatly against the curb, under the shade of the exact same tree where ours currently rested. At that time, he found it odd that anyone would park there. No one has a driveway on this side of the street, it’s a car he hadn’t seen before, and he just had a strange feeling about it all. So, his instincts led him to open up Twitter. There, he went to the Seattle Police Department’s Twitter Account “Get Your Car Back”. Here, SPD posts the license plate and a short description of all reported stolen vehicles in the city. Sure enough, this car had been reported stolen. He promptly called the police and they came out and verified it was stolen and contacted the owners.
Fast-forward one week and this gentleman tells us that once again, he’s walking his neighborhood and sees our Subaru now parked in the exact same place. That familiar instinct of his kicked in, so he fired up Twitter and was able to see that a white Subaru with our license plate had just been reported stolen one day prior!
Man checks Twitter. Twitter confirms suspicion. Man calls police. Police call me. Twitter saved my car.
To read more about how Twitter played a role in this story, and how I was very impressed by a company that interacted with me on Twitter along the way, check out more on my blog here.