5 On Your Side

Raleigh man works with police to get back stolen iPod

Posted July 15, 2011 12:03 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2011 1:53 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man who found his stolen iPod for sale on the Craigslist website set up a sting with police to get the device back and make an arrest.

“Everything went perfectly,” said Dylan Lucas, whose iPod Touch was stolen when someone broke into his car

Lucas later found an iPod Touch for sale on Craigslist and recognized his blue case.

“My blood started boiling. It made me pretty mad” he said.

With the help of police, Lucas set up a meeting to buy the iPod. His father videotaped the meeting, and an officer was on the phone with Lucas waiting to hear a code word they had set up.

“I memorized my serial number, and so I flipped the iPod over, checked the serial number and I knew it was mine," Lucas said. "Our code was ‘Yeah, I'll take it.’ So when he heard that, he said, ‘Are you sure it's yours?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I'm going to take it.’”

Police moved in and arrested Phillip Wolf of Raleigh. He was charged with possession of stolen property and is scheduled to appear in court in late July.

Wolf couldn't be reached for comment.

To some, it might seem like a big effort for a small bust.

“It's not small potatoes for the victim, Raleigh police Crime Prevention Officer Scott Womack said.

Having stolen items resold on Craigslist is a crime that happens a lot to a lot of people because thieves see it as easy, Womack said.

“It does become almost a vocation for some people,” he said.

A quick Internet search by 5 on Your Side found story after story of people finding their stolen items on online classified sites. Womack said that's why people have to be skeptical of buying from sellers they don't know.

“Ask them where it came from – What's the history of it? Where did they get it from? What type of store? – things like that,” he said.

A big red flag, he said, is a seller who has multiple, similar devices.

As for Lucas, police were able to help because he had specific information, including the serial number, that proved the iPod was his.

The bust might even lead to solving other crimes.

“It was very satisfying to be able to see the police handcuff him right in front of me,” Lucas said, noting that the episode was a good reminder for him not to leave valuables in view in his car.