The police department Dayton deserves

This story has a happy ending. But, it’s not because we’ve got our priorities right in Dayton. That’s up to Dayton voters tomorrow, who get to decide on if they want a City Commission that works for them, or one that works for the big money that backs the same old dog and pony show we’ve suffered for years. (Hint, vote for Leitzell, Greer and Esrati, the three Independent candidates).

Last week, I read on Facebook that my friends James and Cammie Harris, who just recently opened Serendipity Bistro on St. Clair Street, had been robbed. Not much was taken, an iPad with a cracked screen and sponge bob stickers on the back, and money from the tip jar. Why this hurt even more, was that they used the iPad as their point-of-sale, with a square reader. It’s as if someone stole their cash register and their credit card machine.

A regular customer heard about this, and was nice enough to give them an iPad mini. That’s why I love Dayton. That doesn’t happen in New York City or Chicago, Dayton has incredible people. I made a mental note to myself to eat their a little more – to help them out. Tonight, I was there when Cammie got the ping on her iPhone that her “Find my iPhone app” had located her stolen iPad!

She wasn’t sure where it was pointing to, and I looked and said- that’s Sam’s Market, at the base of the E. Third Street hill at Sperling. She called the non-emergency number and got the brush off. They’d send someone. I told them, if I wasn’t exhausted and starving, I’d run out there right now and try to get it (my order was in, but the food wasn’t up yet). James went instead.

Photo of Sam's Market in Dayton Ohio

Sam’s Market, 3501 E 3rd St Dayton, OH 45403, where stolen iPads end up under the counter

Before we’d finished our candied walnut, chicken and mandarin orange salad and margharita pizza, James was back. iPad in hand. He’d walked into Sam’s, asked if they had WiFi and got a stupid look from the guy behind the counter. James asked again- Internet? The guy saw James was serious- and nodded yes, then James said, “my iPad was stolen, and it just popped up here, it’s got a cracked screen and sponge bob stickers on the back.” The guy played stupid, James asked again, said he wasn’t leaving until he got it- and the guy then pulls it out from under the counter, and say’s he paid someone $50 for it, and what about his money?
James said, that’s between him and the person he bought it from, either hand it over, or he’ll wait until the police come. Across the counter comes the iPad. When you turn it on, the lock screen says “Stolen from Serendipity Bistro”- there was zero confusion here.

I promised a happy ending, and there it is, James and Cammie have their iPad back. But, here’s the question, what good is the tracking technology if the Dayton Police Department can’t be bothered with going out and following up on these calls right away, before the crooks realize that the unit is being tracked, or can’t be cracked unless you really know what you are doing? They said they’d send someone out, but without any urgency. Had this been Oakwood, I’m sure they would have been on it pronto asap.

Photo by David Esrati, James Harris with his recovered ipad

James Harris, of Serendipity Bistro, with his recovered iPad

45 minutes after the initial call, and at least 25 minutes after James had recovered it, the cops called, instead of showing up. No way of busting the business for dealing in stolen goods, no catching anyone red-handed. This is why I don’t have my chainsaw back, my bicycle back or any of my other stuff (although they did get the stuff from my office break-in back, thanks to a cop disregarding an order to stop pursing the thieves).

Here was an easy chance, using technology, to solve a crime on the spot and send a message to the thieves of Dayton that we don’t mess around. Instead, it’s up to the citizens to take matters into their own hands. There is talk about turning the theft of cell phones and laptops into a felony, and if you ask me it’s not soon enough. NYC has been going all out to cut this kind of crime, read this amazing story from a few days ago in the New York Times about how when you have enough cops on the street, you handle things like this: Theft of an iPhone Sets Off a Cinematic High-Speed Chase

That’s the kind of police department you deserve Dayton. In the meantime, maybe we should give James Harris a badge.

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