Aug 20 2013
Turns out you really CAN’T do that on television…
This article is a bit different from my previous reviews, in that it is a personal saga I experienced directly. But its relevant to anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of missing or stolen electronics.
This isn’t even the worst thing to happen to the Bossardet family, but it was one of the more violating incidents. The above picture is the only item two fine upstanding gentlemen failed to abscond with when our home was burglarized a year and a half ago, but it was a total loss nonetheless (thanks Best Buy for accepting and recycling broken junk!). See that red circle? That’s where the doorknob punched through the wall after being kicked in by said fine upstanding gentlemen. They took out the entire door frame with their size 11 boots, leaving some nice dusty prints, and made off with several thousand dollars worth of personal items before being observed, and chased, by the garbage men. But this tale is not intended to invoke pity or rage – this is a humorous, cautionary tale of why you should always document serial numbers, take pictures, and above all don’t change your Netflix password.
And this time don’t make it “password”.
But Joy, you are certainly thinking, why wouldn’t you change your passwords after being robbed of multiple electronic devices with interconnected profiles and valuable data? I’ll be honest with you – because we forgot. Not the big things, like email or any social networking sites, but Netflix was one of those that we just didn’t think to change.
Following a week-long illness forcing both myself and my husband out of work, I returned to my job only to get a phone call from our city’s finest, informing me that our front door had been kicked in and a robbery had occurred. I sped home to discover a patrol car and officer guarding our smashed television (first picture) in the driveway and our now broken front door. He advised me not to enter, until I pleaded with him to let me make sure my animals were still inside, considering they now had a gaping escape hole available.
I found all three cats under the flipped mattress in our bedroom, terrified but safe. The vaporizer I had been using to combat a nasty sinus infection had spilled onto the floor when they rifled through my dresser drawers, forcing me to rewash all of my scattered underwear because gross. My laptop with WoW stickers was gone from where it previously sat charging. A jewelry box containing my engagement ring and a BlackBerry, swiped clear off the table where it stood, scattered earrings littering the drenched carpet. Downstairs was even worse. A flatscreen television and my son’s Wii system containing Skylanders was gone, along with my husband’s laptop. The other flatscreen lay shattered in the driveway, but the PS3 and 13 of his games had been absconded with as well. All of these things were gifts for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries. And all of them were gone.
Folks, if you don’t have renters insurance, STOP what you are doing and GO GET IT NOW. Within less than a week I had a check for the replacement cost of all our stolen items in my hot little hands. We restocked our items, missing only the irreplaceable (my class ring and heirlooms) and the annoyingly difficult (the hours invested in my son and spouse’s video games). Also a reason we signed up for the PSN – cloud storage, yes please! I also recommend photographing your electronics’ serial numbers and uploading to a trusted online storage service. Our saving grace was that the crooks missed the 1TB external hard drive containing photos and documents going back 15+ years.
Police are still searching for the culprits, who were reportedly after a coveted Talkboy cassette player.
Here’s the thing – when I’m not regaling you fine readers with tales of conventions and obscure film reviews, I work full time as a fraud investigator. Though my job usually involves more credit card investigation, I’ve been trained to sniff out crooks and liars. My first stop was Craigslist, because it’s the number one site for trafficking stolen goods (next to pawn shops). And for a police department I thought would be too busy to assist in our “petty” theft, they were right on the ball and willing to stake-out our meetings with potential sellers in the parking lot. Alas, this venture proved fruitless, but a worthy attempt.
Months pass into the next year. While attempting to show a friend the wonderful benefits and offerings of Netflix, I notice something odd. “Huh,” I exclaimed, rather unremarkably. “I didn’t think my husband watched Hustle and Flow.” Dismissing it as nothing more than a fluke I forgot about it until the following day, when he and I searched for a program to watch together.
This isn’t where I parked my car…
“I don’t know where that came from,” he said, referring to both Hustle and Flow and the programs that had now joined it – What My Husband Doesn’t Know and 4 Life.
“Well, I didn’t watch that stuff…” I said, defending both my honor and my taste in cinema.
“That’s strange. I’m going to go call Netflix and see what’s up, change my password.”
It took 12 steps – from the top of the stairs to the couch – before it hit me. Then it only took about three for me to sprint back and yell “DONCHANNAPAWOR!”
“What?” he asked.
“Don’t change the password!”
“Our stuff. Our stolen stuff. Someone has it and is using it.”
I watched the light flicker across his face as it dawned on him. Several choice phrases were uttered questioning the parentage and testicular fortitude of the movie-watchers in question, and my husband jumped online to contact Netflix customer service.
Netflix confirms the films we didn’t recognized were in fact being viewed on a PS3 (ours had been off all day) and send us a form to obtain the IP address. We had a detective fill it out and returned it to Netflix, who released the information to the sheriff’s office. They subpoenaed Comcast for the physical address linked to the IP address. The entire process took about a week.
Over the next 3 or 4 weeks, we watched our queue get butchered by Tyler Perry movies and suggestions for Martin Lawrence films. The cops tracked down our stolen PS3 to a residence less than five miles from our home, in the possession of a family whose patriarch was currently incarcerated.
The HELL you say…
In all fairness, they were “buyers in good faith”, complete with a receipt from a local pawn shop where they purchased our PS3. One of the fine upstanding gentlemen pawned it three times before finally selling, and the police are currently tracking his whereabouts. The upside to this long, drawn-out saga is that we were able to take possession of our stolen PS3 once more, and now I can game alongside my husband in our own home.
Netflix’s great customer service and quick response helped us recover at least one item from our burglary, which is more than I can say for most others who have endured the same, so I’m a fan for life. I’m not saying this solution will work for everyone faced with the same dilemma, but the upside is a recovered system with the only cost being having to reconfigure the “recommended” algorithms. Netflix still insists I want to watch Big Momma’s House. Sigh.
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