Hugo Scheckter returned to his George Washington University dorm room late Saturday night and was surprised to find the door locked. He always leaves it open so his friends can borrow his PlayStation.
The room was ransacked. Missing: His new iPad, $500 cash and his laptop.
So, like any college student who has been ripped off, Scheckter turned to Twitter (as @HugoScheckter) to vent: “Room was broken into while at soccer. Lock box smashed and laptop stolen. . .just called the police.”
Later the 20-year-old added:
Just so mad right now. I have to buy a new laptop, can't really afford it right now
A friend in Indiana saw Scheckter’s tweets and reminded him of MobileMe, a downloadable Apple program that tracks devices if they are lost or stolen. Scheckter had put the program on his iPad, so he quickly logged into his account. But it didn’t work — the iPad wasn’t turned on.
Then, Sunday night, it flipped on. Scheckter looked at a Google map that showed his iPad was in a house in Landover.
“I hit ‘track’ and it took me right to the room in the house where it was. When he went to the back room, it moved to the back room,” said Scheckter, a sophomore sports management major who grew up in England. “The police were skeptical when I told them exactly where my iPad was — the address, the room in the house.”
Scheckter posted a photo of the house from Google Earth on his Facebook page. He tweeted: “Currently tracking my iPad. It's in Maryland.”
A few of his friends were “gung-ho” about storming the house and taking back the iPad themselves. But Scheckter said it was difficult enough to call his mother in England to explain that he was robbed — he didn’t want to call her from a hospital bed because of a “Rambo-style” operation.
Then on Monday, Scheckter tweeted:
Alright finally. The police are heading out there now to go get my ipad. :D
A police detective went to the house in Prince George’s County and used MobileMe to activate a beeping sound on the iPad, Scheckter said. Soon, the sophomore tweeted:
They found my stolen iPad! Tracked those idiots right back to their house!! No laptop found yet.. but still hoping!
Well the guy who had my iPad had bought it from the thief - he provided a good description so hopefully they find him... and my laptop!
Just picked up my iPad from the station!! Pretty awesome! Thanks for all your tweets, will see if I can get my laptop too.
Within hours, Scheckter was back in his dorm room with his iPad. He posed for a new Facebook profile photo, triumphantly holding up his recovered iPad with this “public message to the thief” scrawled on the screen: “Don’t [beeping] steal my [stuff].”