(in part 1, our hero has lost his fancy communications / music-playing device. With no end in sight, will it ever be found?)
Second day back at work since “vacation”. Typical day. Meetings, notes, quiche.
*Jarring Chord* An email. From Verizon Wireless. “blah blah blah monthly bill blah blah blah $101.xx, blah blah blah pay online blah bla–” wait.. $101.xx?
Normally, our cell phone bill is about $84. Considering we have two lines and two phones, that’s really not that bad. We share a bed, a house, and handsoap; Why not share minutes? But $101? Something is fishy in the state of Denmark.
Verizon’s website has some useful e-billing features (provided you are using a PC / Mac, but that’s another story altogether). I logged on and checked my bill details. 31 minutes of overage. My first thought was that since my phone had gone MIA, we had used extra minutes on Mel’s line, perhaps making more calls than normal since we were on “vacation.” I started scanning through the pages, looking for excessively long calls, or perhaps incidences of Sullivan calling some random phone numbers without hanging up.
Then I saw it. At the end of the billing cycle, there were a bunch of calls to an unfamiliar area code.
A light bulb went off in my head, and I immediately glanced over at the date the call was made. November 25th? But that would mean… I looked at the calendar, jumping the month back to November to confirm my suspicion: Wednesday; while we were back east.
The phone had been stolen.
Interestingly, my reaction really wasn’t panic. Or fear. Or even anger. My first thoughts were “ok, let’s find out who took it.” I felt my competitive nature shifting to the forefront of my consciousness, like I had just burst out of the gate in a high-stakes game for phone / mp3 player glory.
The Internet has some pretty useful tools, free tools even, for lay people to use. Whitepages.com has a “Reverse lookup” tool — you plug in the phone number and it will return information (if [publically available) about the person that owns that number.
I started plugging numbers in. The first few were in Louisville, KY. One phone number was an unlisted landline; The next was a Cricket wireless number. Then there were a few Richmond numbers, also unlisted. After cranking through a dozen or so records, all unlisted, I decided to adjust my strategy.
I looked for lines that were either incoming calls or calls that had excessively long call times. There were two calls to Louisville that were 25 and 52 minutes, respectively. I called that number and spoke to a young-sounding woman with a back-woods accent. I politely asked if she knew who had been calling her from my phone number — she responded with a rather unconvincing ambivalence. No luck there.
I scanned down some more – a few of the numbers had several attempts to the same number in rapid succession. One was a cell phone in Richmond, so I called that one. Similar response, but the person said they would call back after they had looked into it. I didn’t get my hopes up but gave her my number anyways. I had this feeling that if people did know what I was talking about, if they were friends with the thief, they would probably feel compelled to cover for them.
Plugging some more numbers into the reverse lookup, I finally got a hit. A woman with the initials D.A. that lived in Richmond. The website said she was in her 60s. I reasoned that it was possible that the thief was calling this individual because they were related; I called the number — similar response, they didn’t know anything about it.
I started compiling an Excel spreadsheet of the phone records, and thought I should file a police report. The police secretary was unsure at first if they would investigate something like this, but consulted with a co-worker and responded affirmatively. She took down my information, and I explained to her what I had compiled already. She said she would send an officer my way.
I started writing up an explanation for my spreadsheet, explaining some of my margin-notes. That column refers to the identity of the person, or at least their phone carrier’s name (Maybe they can subpoena the records?) These lines are all incoming calls, so they’re probably somone that knows the thief, perhaps?
No officer showed up, but another call came in. It was the woman I spoke to earlier. Maybe there is some hope with this one after all. We chatted for a little bit, I specified the times when her number was called by my phone — three times on 11/25, once on 11/28. The longest duration of the call was 4 minutes, but she didn’t remember receiving any of those calls. We thought perhaps the person had left voice mail. She said she would check and call me back. Before she hung up, I asked her if she minded giving me her name. “It’s ____,” she said. I told her I was just taking notes for the Police Report. She mentioned that the number was her work line, and that she worked at the Palladium-Item. (our local newspaper)
When I hung up, I began wondering why the calls ended abruptly on 11/25. Why would they stop calling two days before Thanksgiving? I thought perhaps the battery had died. Then it hit me: I was only seeing calls made for the last billing cycle.
(cont’d in part 3)