Posted on March 24, 2008, Jonathan Internet Community Strikes Down Xbox 360 Thief With Great Vengeance and Furious Anger
Sit down, kids; it’s story time.
On March 12, Jesse McPherson returned from his trip to SXSW only to find that his home in Philadelphia had been burglarized. The thief made off with his TV, an old Powerbook, and his Xbox 360. Naturally, he was upset, so he took it upon himself to call up some local pawn shops in the area to see if anyone had come in trying to hock his stuff.
As luck would have it, the first place he called remembered a young man who tried to sell a Powerbook that had a few quirks similar to McPherson’s. So he went down there and snapped a couple shots from their security feed of the guy trying to sell the laptop. He contacted the police and told them he had pictures of the thief, but he never heard back from them. Meanwhile, this past Friday, his co-workers surprise him with a brand new Xbox 360 console.
Now here’s where things get really interesting. That night, McPherson goes home, hooks up his new gift, and recovers his Xbox Live account. The first thing he notices is he’s received a voice message from some random person. As it turns out, it’s the thief, who explicitly says he’s got the Xbox and offers to sell it back to him. McPherson calls the police, and the person on the other end tells him to call back during normal operating hours and then hangs up on him (note to self: never ever move to Philadelphia). Left with nowhere else to turn, McPherson did the only thing he could think of and posted the thief’s Xbox Live account on the internet. His story got picked up by Digg and within a few hours the internet community managed to uncover the thief’s name, address, high school, e-mail, phone number, etc. and even put together a wiki page to compile all of it.
Then he pretty much started getting harassed through AIM, a YouTube video, and probably every social site he’s ever subscribed to almost constantly. By Sunday, the kid actually shows up at McPherson’s house and gives him the laptop back. No word yet on the Xbox, but McPherson has said he will be in contact with the kid’s parents soon. I also have a feeling the kid will be giving up the Xbox soon, since his account’s bio now reads: “mY eFFinG xBoX brOkE sO i WoNt bE oN fOr aWhILe iF u NeEd Me SEnD mE a MeSsAgE aS lOnG aS iT aiNt vOiCe I wiLl GeT iT.”
There’s really no justice quite like internet justice. Some people have pointed out that a threat left on Xbox Live is flimsy evidence that this kid is the actual thief and not just the guy who bought it off the thief. That may be true, but it’s still a little hard to explain how an internet search that started with an Xbox Live account brought back a picture of a kid who looks a lot like the guy trying to pawn a Powerbook that sounds remarkably like the stolen one. Besides, even if he weren’t the one who broke into McPherson’s house, he still knowingly bought some stolen goods and then bragged about it to the rightful owner. That’s worthy enough of some internet backlash, I say.
Via McPherson’s Blog