A few weeks back, someone stole my housemate's cellphone. It was distressing, but the next part was that the thief contacted her and offered to give it back for money if we met in an hour. We called the police and strung the thief along for a while, but nothing came of this; since we hadn't yet filed a stolen item report the opportunity to catch a thief did not get prioritized. I suppose they really didn't know whether there was a stolen item at all, or merely a commercial dispute.
Today the thief contacted us again, claiming he'd bought the phone from someone and asking her to perform one of the unlock rituals that make it usable. She said she would prefer to have it back. He said he'd give it to her if she'd pay what he paid. Recognizing his voice, she knew this was no sincere offer, but agreed to meet him in a few hours. Then she called the cops. Having a stolen item report, they agree to meet with her and set something up.
We drove to the rendezvous and met some plainclothes cops. I stayed in the background because I'm just the support staff, while my housemates answered a lot of questions and showed them the text messages (I believe they had previously sent the first round of text message in to thee stolen item report). My job was the unglamorous but practical one of staying the heck away and being available to provide transportation home from the station. The housemates rode with one of the cops to observe the thief talking on his phone at the same time he was talking to her, saying he was where they saw him - even though they had never met, there was only one male talking on a cellphone at that spot at that instant. A couple of other cops detained the man, determined that he had a cell phone matching the description, and arrested him. A companion fled and was also arrested.
Now these were clearly not the geniuses of crime that they may have thought they were. After my housemates had filled out their police reports, one of the other cops told them that the arrested guy had said that he intended to give the phone over if he received money but he wasn't going to do it without money. It turns out he was on parole for a violent crime (...which certainly settles the question, if there had been any, as to whether we should have met him the first time around...) and had a no-contact order concerning his partner in crime. All in all, his attempt to make $200 without working for it is going to cost him a lot more, which strongly suggests that, moral considerations aside, he's not very good with economics.
As luck would have it, today was the day that my started decided to fail. I am fortunate that it performed flawlessly all through the big pile of audits I did over the last week, and even took me to the Y and back this morning, but as I drove my housemates around, it stopped working. The housemates were happy to pushstart the thing, and at the police rendezvous an officer gave me the push - which amused everybody - it was not a service I had previously asked of a policeman.
Afterwards I helped my brother change HIS starter, which had gone out earlier. I did not plan things this way but I believe he will help me change mine. Everyone is happy (except the perps and the starters) but I don't expect to see this sort of day repeated often.