Last month I came home to an open door and an emptier house. I rang the police to report it but I didn't hold out much hope, but there has been a development!
While I was on the phone to the police that evening I suddenly remembered that my new laptop had Apple's Find My iDevice service enabled. I quickly picked up my phone and my laptop was unexpectedly awake, astoundingly online, and in Manurewa.
Unfortunately the laptop doesn't have a GPS, it guesses its location by looking up all nearby wireless networks in Apple's database but it was enough for me to tell the police a rough street address. This wasn't exact enough for a search warrant, which is fair enough since it could have been in any one of half a dozen houses. A couple of hours later the laptop was turned off and it never appeared again.
Roll forward a couple of weeks. I get an unexpected phone call from the Victim Support Service and after phoning around various police departments I finally find out the story. It turns out that the Manukau police decided to act on the Find My iDevice location after all. They went and knocked on a few doors and asked about a stolen laptop but didn't get any answers until a few hours later when a guilty-looking guy shows up at the station to sheepishly admit that maybe he did know something after all.
It transpires that he bought my laptop from a guy in a carpark at 4pm that afternoon. Full credit to the burglars, that is some quick fencing work since they had only been at my house 90 minutes beforehand. He took it home (luckily connecting it to a network) and was playing with it when the police arrived. He had initially denied knowing anything about a laptop but had been so unnerved by the officers showing up asking questions that decided to give himself in. Good news.
"Great," says I, "when can I get my laptop back?"
Bad news; the guy was so freaked out being tracked so quickly that before coming down to the station he broke the laptop in half!
The police decided to offer the guy Adult Diversion, a scheme where he avoids a criminal conviction. I think this is a fair solution - it was his first offense and although he destroyed my property, part of completing Diversion is paying compensation to your victim. I was expecting that it would be a drawn out process but today I received a letter from the police. Attached was an handwritten apology and a check for the replacement cost of the laptop.
Still no word on the rest of my stuff, but the laptop was the most expensive thing taken. Kudos to both the NZ Police and Apple's Find My iDevice service.