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Car prowlers taught lesson with call to mom

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in the morning in Washington. The Supreme Court is taking up the case of a longtime U.S. resident who is facing deportation to South Korea after pleading guilty to a drug crime based on his lawyer’s bad advice. The justices are hearing argument March 29 in an appeal by Jae Lee, who has lived in the United States for 35 years and has never been back to South Korea since coming to the United States when he was 13. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Eliza Webb walked up to her car last month in West Seattle only to discover that somebody had found the door unlocked and ransacked it.

Then Webb’s noticed the crook had apparently dropped a major clue: his cell phone. But she didn’t call the cops. What followed demonstrates another way to teach a thief a lesson.

“I actually opened it up and I used some social media outlets to track down the owner of the phone, and because this person had their mom listed as a contact, I called their mom.”

She called his mom.

“It was just some tennis shoes and some sunglasses and I figured I could try and get them back. She invited me to come to their house … and talk to him. That’s what I did,” said Webb.

“In the course of talking to him, he was not only extremely remorseful and embarrassed and sort of near tears the whole time, it also came to light that it was not just our car.”

It also turned out there were two boys involved.

Webb’s husband came up with the idea of encouraging the kids to go door-to-door and return the items they’d taken.

“We could take the kids and apologize and get everybody their stuff back and maybe not have to put this on their record forever,” said Webb.

What were the attitudes of the young people when they heard they could go house-to-house and grovel instead of having charges pressed against them?

“It looked like the weight of the world was lifted off their shoulders,” said Webb.

Webb went with them to return the items.

“They had the items in hand. They took turns knocking on the door and they said, ‘Hi, my name is such and such and there was some break-ins into some unlocked cars last night. We were the ones that were responsible. We’re really sorry and apologetic and is any of this yours?'”

Webb said they were really nice, respectful young men from upper-middle class affluent neighborhoods.

“They didn’t want for anything. They were literally just bored. It turns out my car was the first one. They saw an opportunity and took it and it really is just the dumbest decision a person can make.”

Boredom – an idle mind is the devil’s playground.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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